ESPN Tournament Bracket

I'm a big fan of sports – I'm also a big fan of fantasy sports – kind of a nerd/jock hybrid and I'm completely fine with it. That being said, March is a big month for all fantasy sports nerds due to the NCAA tournament. Fans spend all season watching their favorite team in hopes that they will make the tournament and it all comes down to one day: Selection Sunday. Of course as soon as the teams were chosen, I, like many, rushed to my computer to start filling out my first of countless brackets that I would no doubt end up creating.

I must say, brackets have come a long way since the pen and paper versions of not so long ago. Both ESPN and Yahoo use what looks like a combo of HTML, CSS and JQuery (no doubt staying away from flash for mobile and tablet users) to create a pretty slick user experience. There are even some nice little Facebook sharing features and the option to email your friends. And these things are all great – if they work.

In my love for competition I thought it would be a great idea to invite some of my family and friends to join a group. I logged into ESPN, quickly setup the group and visited the invite screen. The first tab that shows up is a nice little email invite that appears to work fine- but who has the time to look up all those email addresses? I was much more intrigued by the Facebook tab.

At first glance I thought ESPN had created an awesome little tool. You could easily search all your friends, select multiple people and send them a private message including the group name and password. Simple, straightforward and effective – seemed great. Sadly, after I attempted to send my incredibly witty message filled with trash talk and sarcasm, I was brought to another screen with the same tool – only not in the ESPN site wrapper. Frustrated, I again typed my brilliant message, selected the same set of friends and tried to send again only to be greeted the same screen again. Now if my messages were actually sent I would be OK – not how I would redirect the user but hey, if it works it works. But it didn't.

Now its not the end of the world that I can't send my friends a Facebook message, in fact, I used the email tool and got the same desired effect. What bothers me is that its still up as an option. At this point ESPN obviously knows it doesn't work, if you attempt to use the Facebook tool you just get a link to a "#" so they are most likely working on it. But why is the tab still there? Shouldn't the kinks have been worked out beforehand? March Madness rolls around but once a year – shouldn't the platform be tested thoroughly beforehand?

And don't get me started on how the I couldn't post this awesome picture of my nephew as my family's ESPN group pic.

Here at Bivings, one quickly acquires the knowledge that websites must be tested. Tested over and over, and then tested again. We have some very detail oriented members of our staff who enjoy testing forms and pages until they break. These things are bound to happen, to quote one of our programmers: “The internet doesn’t run on magic and unicorns” – but  maybe ESPN could use a few more of the Steve Petersens and Todd Zieglers of the world to test their products so it seems like it.

*Since this post was written, ESPN has fixed the issue with their Facebook tool. Nice job ESPN.