As Users Leave X, Twitter’s Gaming Endures

A few hours after the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros on Monday night to advance to the World Series, Adolis García, the Rangers right fielder, posted. 29 funny face emojis on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.

It was a message to Astros fans who booed him during his game. Many Rangers fans joined in immediately. Sports reporters shared the post, and hundreds watching the Rangers win quickly followed suit.

Since Elon Musk bought Twitter last year, many users have left the platform, motivated by unpopular changes. Some say it is dead.

But just as many families own cable sports, sports fans and sports journalists still find the X valuable because, they say, it’s still a place to keep up with the latest and hottest updates on coaching decisions and calls.

For some journalists, leaving thousands of followers and starting somewhere from zero was not a starting point. Many fans did not want to leave the areas where real friendships were established between people who first met as strangers. And while some of the features on the platform have changed, the X works as it always has when it comes to getting the most out of it and seeing the big picture.

Lisa Delpy Neirotti, an associate professor of sports management at George Washington University, said sports fans have multiple sources to delve into, but X’s unique features make it a great place to consume sports updates and sports news.

“If a coach gets fired, or a player gets traded,” he said, “boom, I’m looking at the Twitter feed.”

Games are not the only reason some people stay on X. Many continue to use it to post or download politics, pop culture and other topics. But gamers remain among the most loyal users, accounting for nearly 42 percent of X’s audience, depending on the platform. X did not respond to a request for comment.

“Why don’t you move if you’re full?” Professor Delpy Neirotti said. “People are creatures of habit, and there’s no reason to move if they keep getting what they want.”

One reason Twitter has been working through the turmoil of Musk’s tenure is that some of the options that have emerged aren’t particularly appealing to gamers. Meta’s competing app, Thread, posts posts to the user’s feed via an algorithm rather than in real time, making live events difficult to track. Bluesky, which was backed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, displays posts chronologically, but the app remains invite-only and doesn’t work as well as Twitter.

Kennedy Landry.

In addition to interacting with readers, Ms. Landry also uses X to share links to her posts and to tweet about sports.

“As long as it’s going well, and it seems like I’m connecting with the fans in a good way,” he said, “I don’t think it’s necessary for me to change.

Josiah Johnsonsoldier of Gil’s Arena, the NBA Podcast, said that despite X’s change, his diet hasn’t changed. Mr. Johnson said he recently signed up to Threads to see what’s going on, but with more than 260,000 followers on X, quitting isn’t easy.

He said: “It is difficult for me to leave to go somewhere and leave all the work I have done. “I’m a Twitter person. That’s all. I’ll stay on board, no matter what.”

Within the sports Twittersphere, there are small groups of sports and journalists who regularly post about a particular team or sport. There is tennis Twitter, F1 Twitter and Yankees Twitter. And for Shannon Enty of Colleyville, Texas, there’s the Texas Rangers Twitter.

Ms. Enty signed up for Twitter in 2009 or 2010 to keep up with her fans on The Ticket, a sports radio station in Dallas. He said he stayed on the show to post and be with his favorite team.

At first, he said, “I was like just entering the ether.”

As more people signed up for the program, Ms. Enty said she saw a movement. He became friends with some of the Rangers fans over time, even meeting a few in person.

“These are all people I think I met because they tweeted,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine now because we’re better friends than that, but originally it was because of Rangers Twitter.”

Ms. Enty said she noticed that some of her followers stopped using X months ago.

“But those people are not sports people,” he said. “Sports tweeters just happened.”

While many gamers have stuck with X, some have abandoned the program. Casie LaBella, 49, a Chicago native who lives in Seattle, used to use Twitter to keep up with the Chicago Bears and Cubs.

He said: “It was like a fourth person in our family watching the game. “If we had my husband, my son, me and my phone.”

But after Mr. Musk took over, Ms. LaBella said she was concerned about security at X. She left the platform at the end of the spring, and was the first to receive Threads, which was launched in July. Ms. LaBella said she liked using Threads, but it’s not the same as Twitter at first.

“As humans, we want to connect with other people, and I think Twitter pre-Musk was a very interesting tool for doing that,” he said. “It helped us connect even though it was online.”

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