I wrote a post a couple weeks ago because I wanted to commend Australian sports leagues and teams on the awesome job they’re doing – and they are doing a good job. But it can’t be denied that some things could change (that’s almost the entire point of this blog!).
Two days ago, for instance, was the Super Bowl – which 71% of Americans watched (that number is almost certainly higher as it does not account for those at Super Bowl parties or bars). I don’t care who you are – when three-quarters of your country is watching a SPORTING EVENT (not a presidential election or news program or something important like that), you’ve done a good job.
Then I got a bit irritated. A guy on Twitter made a comment about the halftime entertainment and the way I understood it, he thinks America is unsure of themselves. Which we’re not… we just know how to do it BIG. But this guys makes a good point: Australia needs to find something that defines them. It’s probably not Beyonce, but it’s something.
I know that not all of the things done in the US leagues will transfer to Australia, but these are a few I think that could be pretty great…
1. Get athletes some sponsors. This is a bit contradictory to what I said about athletes being untouchables in my other post, but I think they can both be accomplished. Athletes in the US are grossly overpaid (Kobe Bryant, for instance, earns nearly FOUR TIMES MORE than the salary cap per team in the AFL) but their salary isn’t even where they get most of their cash – they get it from sponsorships. I am one of those people who believe celebrity endorsements (I only wear Nike, for example, because Michael Jordan only wore Nike) and I am not the only one out there. The AFL kind of has this going on with Swisse, and there are a few players, like Gary Ablett Jr, who back certain products… but it could be a LOT better – get those big players to do more! They don’t need to become untouchables, but it will probably expand your fan base.
2. Don’t undervalue your product. Again, a bit contradictory considering I said that American team owners care about money more than winning, but it’s true nonetheless. Australian sports don’t value their product enough. While concession prices are out of this world (that is not okay – something must be done), there are many things that could be done to boost revenue. Meet-and-greets? Guest appearances? Special events for members or ticket holders? Australia really needs to brainstorm. Or just hire me – I already have one million ideas (more like 50 idea… but still – I can execute them).
3. Theme your seasons. This is one of my favourite things about US sports – themes (what can I say? It’s the part of my femininity that I can’t get away from – I love a good theme). My personal favourite was ‘NBA: Where Amazing Happens’. That was years ago and I still remember it. The MLB has had very successful slogans and they continue every year. While not every idea will be as memorable, giving fans something to connect to is always a good idea. And you need to put it out there – it needs to be on everything. T-shirts, tickets, hats, seats, jumbotrons… EVERYTHING. Every league, and every team within, should have one. For instance, Essendon this year had the slogan ‘Whatever It Takes’… unfortunately, due to the recent supplement investigation (which I’ll write about soon), that one hasn’t worked out as planned. But you get the idea.
4. Advertise. I’ve talked about this a bit in a Blue Sox post, but it needs to be readdressed. I don’t understand why leagues don’t really advertise. People might think the AFL doesn’t need it since they are, after all, the most popular sport in Australia, but unless every single game is selling out… you could do with a bit of advertising. And even if the AFL can afford to not advertise… no other league can because they are not on top. Advertising shouldn’t only happen for certain games. Take it from the NBA who just advertises it’s existence. Maybe it’s not totally necessary, but it’s worth it. An idea? Use that theme you came up with at the beginning of the year.
While I could go on for days about the things I want to see in Australian sport, I can’t. First of all because you would stop reading and second of all because I need to have SOME new ideas when I’m called in for an interview with the GWS Giants (or the Sydney Swans – I love you both and I don’t know who’s gear to wear to Round 1).
But I want to know what you think. Are there certain aspects of American sport that you can see translating to Australian sports easily? What do you want to see happen in Australian leagues?