For Kevin Baxter, soccer is not just a passion, it's his life's work. A sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Baxter is among the legions of f??tbol aficionados making the pilgrimage to Brazil. His assignment? To cover the U.S. team on its quest to win its first ever World Cup title.
So, how does Baxter plan to make the most of this overseas assignment? With technology, of course. "I'll have a laptop outfitted with Skype, a MiFi to connect my laptop to the Internet and an iPhone with Facetime, Facebook and Twitter ÔÇô oh, and a digital camera."
The assignment is fun, but the 18-hour workdays aren't exactly a vacation. "I wake up in the morning, check the local newspapers and get on the Internet to find any breaking stories." Baxter's three favorite blogs that he'll be checking regularly are the Washington Post's "Soccer Insider" by Steve Goff @SoccerInsider, Sports Illustrated's "Planet F??tbol" by Grant Wahl @GrantWahl), and Soccer America @socceramerica.
Given the sheer scope of the tournament -- 48 games in the first round alone -- he's also relying on apps to track hard news. "I have three soccer apps on my phone, FIFA, ESPN and FotMob. But I have to say, I find all the available information to be overwhelming, so I use them mainly to track scores and the progress of games."
After each U.S. match, when the fans have cleared out of the stadium, Baxter's work day will continue. He'll be part of a post-match coverage "press pool" with journalists from different media outlets covering the events. Each day, they rotate duties to help ensure equal access to newsmakers. Some days, Baxter will interview U.S. Coach Juergen Klinsmann and his opposing coach, while other days he'll be interviewing players. Whatever his role, Baxter will keep his smartphone and digital gear close by, capturing the news, sharing it on Twitter and writing about it on the Los Angeles Times sports blog.
So, who's got the best shot to win it all this year? Baxter says Spain is among the top three contenders, along with Germany and host country Brazil. Who do you like?
Follow Baxter's coverage on Twitter at @kbaxter11.