I was wrong. It is almost painful to even write that but I was. I didn’t expose you to my incorrect ideas but still… I feel silly because I should have known this.
A couple weeks ago during the Australia-Sri Lanka test at the SCG, my boyfriend said that it was a bad idea to have Sri Lanka come to Australia because no one cares about Sri Lanka. He said that there were other teams that should have been brought to Australia because people actually wanted to see those teams play, meaning attendance and TV viewership would be higher. His rants and raves are a great inspiration for this blog and I wrote this one down, intending to write a post on knowing your audience – giving them what they want to see by organizing games and matches at the most beneficial locations.
But after writing one sentence of that post, I realized that was incorrect. So, yet again (I’m sorry, S!) I have to prove the boyfriend wrong.
In theory he’s right – there probably are teams that Australians would prefer to see, rather than Sri Lanka. But then, one of his friends, a member at the SCG, invited him to day three of the test and he was so excited to go. His argument lost all ground.
Why was he excited to go, even though he said Sri Lanka wasn’t worth watching? He was excited because Australia IS worth watching (it also didn’t hurt that it was Mike Hussey’s last international test match).
You see, I want to be a GM one day (and then eventually President or CEO – depending on what country I am in) and I know this: as a GM, my job will be to make the game worth attending. There are two ways to do that. 1) Put together a quality team or 2) Provide a great day experience – one that will be remembered.
Fans respond to QUALITY above all else. If you put together a winning team, they will attend your game. If you play against a team that’s just as good, you get even more attendees – but that doesn’t always have to be the case. That was what happened with Australia v. Sri Lanka – Australia is a solid team. People will go see them regardless of who they play against. Yes, it would be great if the match was against England or South Africa… but they can’t ALL be matches against the best – there has to be a bottom of the ladder and you have to do your best to make sure you stay on top of it.
But if you don’t put together a winning team, you have a lot to fall back on – game day experience. That’s all about marketing, event planning, and fan involvement – fan involvement being the most important of the three. That’s why I rave about the GWS Giants. They do not have a winning team (yet! hoping for a championship by 2020!) but they market themselves wonderfully and put together a great game day experience. I want to go to all their home games this year… not just for Jeremy Cameron, but because they make it enjoyable no matter what the scoreboard says.
And I think the most important thing that is ignored in this is loyalty. Especially in Australia (we have so many fair weather fans in the US I can’t even talk about it) the loyalty is there. No matter how the team plays, no matter who they play against, and no matter what the game day experience is like (like, if you took away the full strength beer?) there are still people who will wake up at 4 am just so they can get the best seats when the gates open at 8… or some such nonsense.
My overall point is this: OF COURSE you’re going to get better attendance if you play a great team. But if that’s your only strategy, and you think you can blame or credit attendance on your opponent… then you need a new strategy.