By Matt Lichtenberg
I love playing sports, reading about sports, and talking about sports. Even when I’m watching sports on TV, I find myself craving more sports. Now, with Windows Media Center in Windows Vista, I can satisfy that sports craving right from my couch, on my big screen TV, and without an assist from my web browser. And, best of all, I can do it all without missing a single play.
In case you don’t know, Windows Media Center is a feature in Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate editions you can use to record and pause live TV (assuming your PC is set up to receive and record TV). But what makes Windows Media Center even better for me is how well it integrates with online media services that appeal to music lovers, movie buffs, TV fanatics, news junkies, and (you guessed it) sports nuts like myself.
In the United States, you can use Windows Media Center to track your favorite players’ stats in several pro sports leagues, including Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Let me show you how I use some of the sports services in Windows Media Center to get the latest scores, stories, and stats on my TV.
I follow Victor Martinez’s stats a little closer than most people probably do because he’s on my fantasy baseball team and on my beloved hometown team. Before Windows Vista came out, I had to go upstairs to the den and fire up my desktop computer to check Victor’s stats. But now I can avoid those stairs and study his stats from my couch. Here’s how I set up Windows Media Center to let me do it:
On the start screen in Windows Media Center, I scrolled to Sports, and then selected players.
I selected the appropriate sports league (in this case, MLB), selected add players, scrolled to the player’s position (Catcher), selected the player (Victor Martinez), and then selected save.
Pretty simple. Now, whenever I want to see his stats for the day (which come from FOX Sports), I use my remote control to scroll to Sports, select players, and then select MLB. I use this feature quite a bit. (Perhaps because Victor Martinez is having a pretty good year overall. I just wish I could say the same for the other players that I track.)
Even if you’re not involved in a fantasy sports league like I am, having such easy access to all this information can come in handy. Although my wife and I don’t have a fantasy football team, I still like to keep tabs on different Cleveland Browns’ players (you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m partial to Ohio sports teams). So, I’ve started tracking some of them in Windows Media Center. Now, I can quickly see how some of my favorite players did with a few quick clicks.
Fortunately, just as easy as you can add players to track, you can remove players as well. This could be especially useful to me as I try to track the stats for the Browns’ starting quarterback, which could change during this season.
The fantasy baseball league that my wife and I are in is hosted by Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball (which is a service that we pay for). A few months ago, I discovered that I can view the daily and seasonal stats for our team and league in Windows Media Center.
To set it up, all I had to do was use my remote control to select explore under Online Media, scroll to news + sports, select Yahoo! Sports, and continue to log in with my Yahoo! ID.
Now, I can check the current scores and stats, and then see how our team and other teams in our league are doing, and I can even watch or pause live or recorded TV while I’m doing it! (Full disclosure: this obsession with fantasy baseball stats has little to do with my love of baseball and nearly everything to do with my wife’s—she’s the team manager...and I’m more like the bat boy.)
Of course, being a sports fan doesn’t mean just following your favorite team or players: it means following other teams as well. This is especially true near the end of a season, as the run for the playoffs begin. Right now, I spend as much time looking at the score for my hometown team's game as I do looking at other scores in the American League to stay up to date on the different pennant races (and the wildcard chase).
To see the latest scores in Windows Media Center, all I have to do is scroll to Sports on the start screen, select scores, and then select the sports league that I want to see the scores for. This is a lot faster than waiting for the tickers on TV sports channels to finally show the scores that I’m interested in.
In addition to getting the latest scores and stats, I can also get other sports information in Windows Media Center, such as the TV schedule for specific games and the latest sports news. Admittedly, I check here a few times a day (OK, perhaps more than a few times a day) to read new sports stories and watch videos—including stories and videos for sports that I don’t regularly follow. (The online media services that are available in Windows Media Center vary by geographic location, so you're likely to see stories about the teams near where you live.)
To view sports news stories in Windows Media Center, scroll to Sports, select more sports, select FOX Sports, and then select the sports stories that you want to read.
As long as it doesn’t mean bad news for my teams, I hope that the sports stories, scores, and stats that you get in Windows Media Center is good news for your favorite teams and players.
About the author
Matt Lichtenberg is a writer on the Windows team at Microsoft. Before joining the company in 2000, he worked as a computer trainer and then attended Miami University (Ohio) where he received a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. In 2006, he and his colleagues won the Society for Technical Communication’s International Online Communication Competition for their work on the Windows Media Workshops.
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