Say what you want about Americans… but we can do entertainment. I will never forget my first NBA game (oh, Boston Celtics, how I miss you) – I don’t think there was ever a moment of silence. Before the game, there was music and interactives in the stadium. The Celtics Dancer performed during several time-outs, there were competitions during half-time and a big TV telling us when (and what) to chant.
Today I read this article and it annoyed me because I feel like they’re telling me what I already know… but Australian leagues don’t seem to get yet. So let me lay it out for you.
Now, I know that Australians are attached to their version of sport and that’s fair enough. I mean, if anyone tried to tell me that baseball games needed to be more exciting, I’d respond with a swift kick to their thorax. They are plenty exciting, thank you very much. But the thing is… Aussie pro sports don’t push that kind of entertainment like Americans do. Now, I’m not saying that they need to fill every minute with something like the NBA does, although I’d quite like it. But there’s so much silence surrounding the game. Quarter-time and three-quarter time, for example? Nothingness. Maybe a few interviews, but nothing much. I think they’re focused on the product, more than the packaging. That’s fair. You want to create a good club and give people a good game. But what if your club is losing. If you give fans a losing team and nothing fun at games… why would anyone go? (they don’t, really, but that’s a post for another time) You may not be able to control performance, but you can certainly still give people something they’ll remember.
Take AFL for example. Now, I went to the Swans/Magpies prelim final last weekend and had a blast. Seriously – there was no one at the stadium happier than I, and that include the players. But, I have to admit… it could have been more fun. Other than the many, many food stands outside the stadium, there wasn’t much there for fans. They didn’t even have the kick around after the game – I get it, it’s ANZ, but still. Sure, they had Auskick at halftime (like the do, every, single time) and a Citibank competition (which took a grand total of 15 seconds? Maybe?) but three things do not a match day experience make. I even checked out a few AFL club ‘Game Day’ pages on their website… they’re not that impressive. (Sorry, Port Adelaide, your page was open when I wrote that)
Clubs have got to give fans a reason to come to the game instead of just watching it on TV. Everyone can see the game and hear the interviews from the comfort of their own home, sometimes for free, and in their pajamas while drinking cheaper beer and eating cheaper food. So clubs have got to utilize the time before, after and during games, when there’s a lull, to entertain fans and give them something they can’t get on their couch. Even though we went to the game, what did my boyfriend do the next day? He watched the replay on TV. Why? Probably because it felt the same to him… See? One $1,000 prize isn’t enough to form a unique experience.
NOTE: I will say that GWS does an amazing job of this. I LOVED the game I went to. I will write up something on their awesomeness sometime soon, I swear. Oh, and the Blue Sox are working on several new, exciting ideas, which I’ll have to get back to you on as soon as the season starts.
Here are a few of my ideas for when there’s a bit of time (although, if you take them, I will demand compensation in the form of caramel Tim Tams – lots of them)…
Shoot prizes into the crowd when there are lulls. I’ve seen this done at hockey, basketball, baseball and soccer games. People love it! You know, with those prize cannon-thingies (that is the proper term, obviously)? It doesn’t even have to be expensive – shooting rubber bracelets or a pair of team socks, for heaven’s sake, is just as exciting as shooting a t-shirt.
Bring fans together through group chants or songs. Like I mentioned, the Boston Celtics would post the words to a chant on the screen and people would know what to cheer and when, instead of the stadium chanting six different things at the same time. Or, channel the Red Sox, who sing Sweet Carloine, and get the fans to sing a popular song.
Use the announcer more. They can do more than just say, “The umpires are reviewing the goal.” They can get the crowd pumped up and tell them to get on their feet and scream! A good announcer goes a long way. They shouldn’t be like commentators, but they should be able to make say things like, “Make sure you visit the (name of important sponsor) tent next to the J Gate!” Which brings me to my next point…
Activate, activate, activate. This might depend on the time of day for the game, but there should be areas around the stadium where sponsors can activate. Yea, it’s fantastic that I see the Toyota sign at every bounce, but if there were a place where I could sit in an actual car? Well. That’d be one trillion times more effective. And you can have the announcer tell me which part of the stadium it’s in so I can visit during half time.
Change up the half-time show. I know, I know – Auskick is amazing. Personally, I love it and think it’s a wonderful idea. But I don’t know those kids… so I just play on my phone or talk to my seat-neighbors during halftime. You can leave the Auskick, but maybe add in a dance performance? Or someone could sing a song? Hell, I’d be satisfied if someone even told me about the Auskick games that were going on! What’s the point of having it, if you’re not going to tell me anything about the game, clubs or kids involved?
Get technology involved. GWS has a great thing where they broadcast what people are tweeting about the game – I think that’s an amazing idea. Why not take it one step further and get people to Tweet photos and offer a prize to the best one? The photos can be put on the screen and the winner announced towards the end of the game. Not only is it great to get the fans involved, but you promote your own social media platforms at the same time!
Honestly… I have about 3,819 more ideas. But if you want those… you’re going to have to hire me. Ha ha, kidding… sorta.
Or you can just check these out, because they’re awesome. GET SOME INSPIRATION!
What do you guys think? Do you think Australian clubs could use game time more to their advantage? What are some things you’d like to see during the game? Or are you perfectly happy with the way it is now and don’t want to ruin the atmosphere with a bunch of extra stuff?