Sunday, January 16, 2011

De-genderized sports marketing

Over the past couple decades there have been a number of sports that are leaving gender lines behind.  For example, basketball, football, golf, and figure skating are all sports that were at one time or another seen as a male sport or a female sport.  With the changing of gender roles in the sports industry it has become necessary to really exercise best practices in marketing and promotions.
This article from the Wall Street Journal about figure skating for the male fan is very interesting and is a prime example of how to reach a target without losing everyone else. In an effort to reach the male audience, figure skating is not all about flashy garments and grace anymore.  Figure skaters are now showcasing their strength and agility in order to show the masculinity in the sport.  This is an example of two of the best practices in sports marketing: narrow your target market down and find out what aspects of a sport sparks their interest.   In order to get more men interested in the Winter Olympics, Skate Canada encouraged athletes to use words like, “strength, power, speed, and risk” when describing the sport. 
It is also important to know what your organization stands for and the image you want to portray to your fan base.  In knowing the answer to this, you have an idea of the demographic you want to focus on. For example, if your organization is about fun, family friendly entertainment you will not target college-age men.  Even though the face of sports may be evolving, best practices will still go a very long way; as long as marketers are able to figure out a strategy that will keep the focus on the target while not alienating the other demographics. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Credentials: Here today, gone tomorrow

There has been quite a bit of controversy with bloggers getting credentials for professional and collegiate sporting events.  So when I came across this article needless to say I was not surprised.  After over 20 years of loyalty to the New York Islanders, Chris Botta had his press credentials revoked.  Botta runs the Islanders bolg Islanders Point Blank, which is a site that covers everything  Islanders. Chris Botta was granted unlimited access to all of the New York Islander’s games and practices. This is a privilege that most bloggers will never get because independent bloggers are the least trusted media type.  

Fanhouse reports that after Islanders coach Scott Gordon was fired, Botta wrote on his blog that the team’s losing streak was not solely the fault of Gordon.   A couple of days later, Botta posted that the site would be shut down indefinitely, shocking his many followers.  The part that makes the least amount of sense is the fact that the Islanders rarely get coverage in any of the New York newspapers and the blog was a credible source for the few Islander fans that are left.  According to Red Light, the website averaged 1.5 million page views a month, so what was the issue for Garth Snow, Islanders GM?  

My opinion on the entire issue, is that Botta was bringing too much attention to problems that were deeper than coach Scott Gordon.  This is a statement from one of his blog entries on

“I can’t blame anybody. There’s serious financial issues there. This is a team … that is losing $15 to $25 million a year. Too many holes in that building, too many issues there. It’s been 17 years since they’ve won a playoff round”

Obviously this statement is one that would raise some eyebrows, but after 20 years of servitude, I do not think it is worthy of him losing his credentials.  For Gordon, the decision to get rid of Botta has garnered more bad press, which is not something that team needs right now.  Firing gotta was completely pointless, but it is the right of the team and not the NHL.  If it was a matter for the NHL, Botta would have been given back his credentials after the outpour of support that he has received from colleagues and fans alike. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's much more than a headache.

Concussion. It is a term that we have been hearing all over Sports Center for the past two years, but it has been a serious issue for many years.  In an age when every athlete is taught to be a tough juggernaut, it is no wonder why more and more are facing serious medical problems in sports, and in particular football.  Recently, I read this article about the NFL’s mishandling of evidence found in the testing of helmets and concussions. This is the second biggest tort in sports recently and it is linked to the biggest tort in the history of sports, in my opinion of course. 

The severity of concussions in football was brought to the attention of the American public and needless to say there was outrage.  As a result the NFL started a testing program of football helmets and concussions, but the testing was debased.  There was a definite conflict of interest in the matter and consequently the members of the research group resigned “after strong criticism of their conduct from the House Judiciary Committee and outside medical experts”.   Later in the year, a new committee was appointed and they accused a fellow doctor of minimizing evidence of the dangers of football concussions.  In addition, the new committee said that the old compromised data from the previous studies would not be used.

What happened? The NFL used the compromised data anyway.  Based on those studies, 3 of 16 helmets performed best in testing.  This leads the public to believe that these helmets are effective in concussion prevention, but they are not.   

Yet, this is not the first time that the NFL has covered up serious health information.  A few years ago Blood Equity was released, it is a documentary with interviews from former Hall of Fame NFL players.  This is not a film about the glory days though, it is about the reality of football players after they retire.  Check out this clip from Blood Equity.

The NFLPA refusing to help former players in my opinion is the biggest tort in the history of sports.  These men put their bodies and souls into the game for years and have to beg for assistance, just to be turned away after retirement.  Other leagues like the MLB, NHL, and NBA guarantee disability, pensions, and medical care, but the NFL and NFLPA do not.  

Since the release of the film, there has been talk of a class action lawsuit by former players.  The lawsuit would demand compensation for the injuries they received while playing.  The problem with this is 1) finding a law firm that is willing to take on the NFL and has the financial ability to do so and 2) finding former players that are not afraid to step up and testify against the NFL.  The only advantage the retired players have is the public, hopefully dragging the name of the NFL and NFLPA through the mud will get someone's attention, other than mine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Take a public school to court...for a logo?

Recently, I was perusing the World Wide Web when I came across an article that really caught my attention.  The heading was "Copycat logos are pitting high schools and colleges in a trademark turf war", which immediately made me think, “Why in the world wouldn’t a college want to pick a fight with their supplier” I also thought that it seems like free advertisement.  I have seen several high school logos that have reminded me of an actual university and it seemed pretty harmless.  Besides, high schools all over America have copied the logos of universities for years; why is it an issue now?

From a legal stand point, the high schools can be forced to change their logo because the logos are trademarked.  By using the logo or a very similar version, the high schools are infringing on the rights of the university.  Some of the universities claim that the use of their logos by high schools are diluting the value of their logos.  The article also goes into detail  about Kansas State’s efforts to make money from high schools’ use of the KSU logo.  Kansas State actually began a program that would allow high schools to borrow their logo.  The agreement allows the school to use the logo on uniforms, signs, and stationary items.  But, if the school wants to put the logo on apparel, they must use one of the licensed vendors, who in turn pay KSU 10% royalty.

I then read this article, which proclaims that college and professional teams rarely have an issue with high school teams using their logo.  According to this article many universities just want to know which schools have ripped them off in order to keep documentation.  While other organizations have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, such as the Minnesota Vikings. 

So, where do I stand on the issue? With the little guys.  I understand that ticket sales have been down and as a result so are athletic budgets, but come on.  If anything, the college or professional team will garner bad press for going after a measly high school that is already having financial difficulty.  It creates a picture of David vs. Goliath, and we all know that everybody roots for David.   This article in the New York Times explains that it will cost Glades Day School $60,000 to make the changes that University of Florida demands.  Many of these schools have been using the logo for years and have it plastered all over the school; there has to be a better way to resolve these issues.  Perhaps more schools should take a page out of Kansas State's book and save their reputations with the communities that surround the high schools they are attacking. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who's in your fantasy?

There have been several big things that have happened in sports in the last ten years.  There was Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals, Marion Jones admits to using performance drugs and has to give back 5 gold medals, and most recently the Big Three take over Miami.  Yet, some of the biggest happenings have taken place outside of the arena.  Check out this video to see some of them for yourself.  Personally, I think that the biggest move was the creation of Fantasy Leagues.

Unless you just crawled from under a rock, I’m sure you have heard of fantasy sports.  There is a fantasy league for just about every watchable sport. The most popular of course are football, baseball, and basketball.  Once thought to just be a fad, fantasy sports have become a way of life for some; so much so that FX has even created, “The League”, a show that revolves around the fantasy football culture .  It is pretty safe to say that fantasy leagues are here to stay and many are making money because of it.  It is one of the top sport’s business moves of the century. 

Think about it, people who are into fantasy leagues watch games that they normally would not watch just because they have a certain player on their roster.   In order to track each of their player’s stats, they may have to purchase the sports package from their cable provider.  DirectTV has a package that specifically targets the fantasy league enthusiast.  The other alternative is to go to a sports bar to watch the game, which brings in revenue to the local bars and pubs. 

Still not convinced, well get this; CBS SportsLine generated $15 million in sales from fantasy football customers in just one year.  CNN Money wrote an article about the huge obsession customers have with their leagues.  Apparently more than half of the fantasy sports owners spend over an hour a day just thinking about their teams. 

What’s the fascination you ask? Well, who doesn’t want to own their own professional team?  According to this article, people spend a huge amount of time constructing the perfect team so that they can rack up the points.  For many, it creates an escape from their everyday lives and suddenly they become the boss.  How many times have you watched Sports Center and thought, “If I were the manager, I would get rid of him”; I think that every time I watch…. Well, I’ll save that for another day. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Increasing ticket sales inspite of the economy

Okay, I know that the last thing anyone wants is to me constantly reminded of the economy, but I came across an interesting article recently and I figured that I would share my thoughts.  In a nutshell, the article describes ways in which facility managers have found ways to produce revenue in this struggling economy. With the rise of networking websites, most facilities have created profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Others have discounted tickets or created payment plans.  In addition to lowering prices, some have added meal value deals or partnered with local businesses to provide discounts to the consumer. 
After reading the article, I started to think about the things that the Orlando Magic Facility Manager has done to increase their revenue.  For those of you that do not know, Orlando has a brand new, state of the art facility, which has been called the pride of Orlando.  While other franchises may promote their players, the Magic has put more effort in promoting the new Amway Center.  This is a good idea because in the NBA, when a team gets a new arena they almost always see a rise in attendance.  So far, for the Orlando Magic the economy has not affected their revenue.  For other NBA Facility Managers they must learn to add more value to keep the potential ticket buyers coming back.  
One of the best ways to add more value for the consumer is to make watching the game a more complete package.  In this economy, most families are looking for entertainment that will be all inclusive, so to speak.  By providing a package option in which a buyer could get a meal along with the game experience, the family will not have to spend more money to feed everyone before or after the game.  Another way to increase attendance give vouchers to schools, which they can give to students for achievements.  This will encourage more family attendance because the parents will need to purchase tickets.  There are countless things that can be done to appeal to the consumer, but much like the article states, "No matter what steps facility management takes to increase attendance, the fans have the ultimate say when it comes to buying tickets".  Which leads me to this: If the team wins games, fan base increases; maybe this will increase ticket sales, just a thought. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Not your typical sports talk

Welcome fellow sports fans.  If you were looking for a sports blog like no other, you are in the right place.  Or at the very least, you have found a pretty good place to catch up on popular sports news.  In my blog I will share with you my opinions and insights on professional and collegiate level happenings in basketball.  With over 15 years of experience in the game of basketball, I will provide you with opinions that are based upon experience and facts.  I will keep you up to date on all of the top issues in the NBA and NCAA basketball leagues and I encourage you to leave comments on what you think.  I hope that you will enjoy our journey through the 2010-2011 basketball season and make sure that you subscribe to my blogs. You can also follow me on Twitter at