Football Zebras was recognized by the editors of Sports Illustrated with our Twitter feed (follow) being included in the annual Twitter 100 list of sports-related accounts to follow. The Twitter 100 list was included in a broader Social 100 feature by Sports Illustrated.
“This is an incredible honor for Football Zebras to be included in such a prestigious list next to Mike Pereira, Adam Schefter, and Deadspin,” said editor-in-chief Ben Austro. “When the list was published, I looked to see who was on it, just like anyone else, not even thinking we would be on the list. It took a few seconds for me to dismiss the fact that there wasn’t some computer glitch.”
The Football Zebras website was soft-launched in 2009 with coverage of Super Bowl XLIII. Austro says the site was created because he could not find analysis of rules interpretations of controversial calls, just fan-based complaints about controversial calls. Now in its sixth season, Austro is joined by writers Mark Schultz, Josh Lewis, and Marcus Griep to provide analysis and commentary of rules and officiating.
The @footballzebras account on Twitter offers rules interpretations and answers fans questions, particularly on NFL Sundays. In between rules discussions, Austro will add his own humorous take of events happening in the games or in the broadcast booth.
“This is not some highly polished organization or studio behind this account,” Austro said. “I sit in my favorite football-watching chair at home sharing my insights of the rules of the game and any other observations that I would ordinarily say to a roomful of fans. Now, it’s just like having thousands of fans in my living room.
“What’s more amazing — from the early stages of the lifespan of the website — was trying to figure out what Twitter was and how it would work with our corner of the sports world. It didn’t take long to realize that the old method of pushing content was best served with push/pull content as well, engaging football fans in ways unimaginable just five years ago.”
In addition to the website, a discussion forum for officiating fans — Behind the Football Stripes — is also run in parallel to the Football Zebras site. Austro also released a book in September, So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref’s Guide to Officiating which uses actual plays to explain various rules interpretations. Thanks to our many followers for your interest in our work, for without you it would not be possible.