Reaching rusted on fans of other sports

Do you watch what your Dad watched?

Sports have a hard enough time (in this day and age) maintaining interest amongst their own fans. It is a crowded market place when it comes to sports and entertainment (in general). Love of the game is often passed from parents to children with very little room for much else in the sporting world.

That being the case, how does a sport go about gaining new fans, especially if they are rusted on to other sports? Here are some ideas.

What they should do

  • Take care of the on field product – Nothing works better than enhancing the product on the field. Whether it be by tweaking the rules to make the game flow better (increasing the value of tries in Rugby League and Rugby Union comes to mind, but most sports have tweaked their rules to improve game play) or implementing innovations that assist on field decision makers (instant replay is now available (in certain circumstances) for American Football, Basketball, Baseball, Ice Hockey, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Cricket and Football). Goodness me, even Tennis has instant replay now.
  • Promote the stars and make sure they are retained – Not such an issue for the NFL, NBA, AFL or MLB but a big issue for sports like Football, Rugby League and Rugby Union where there are plenty of alternatives for the players.
  • It helps to be multi-cultural – As an Australian, the NBA is much more interesting with Andrew Bogut, Dante Exum and Patty Mills involved than without. Ditto the EPL with Mile Jedinak (and all that have gone before him). I’m sure it is the same for most other countries. The NBA exploded in China on the back of Yao Ming. My interest in the Milwaukee Brewers started when Australian David Nilsson played catcher for the Brewers from 1992 to 1999 which certainly wasn’t their best years.
  • Big club affiliations – Manchester City have recently purchased New York City and Melbourne City with all the flow on benefits that occur from such connections. Interest in the A League increased on the back of David Villa’s recent short term contract to Melbourne City which probably wouldn’t have been possible without its affiliation to the big English club.
  • Promote the sport in other markets – The NBA, NFL and MLB are starting to do this, especially in Europe and Asia. There is nothing like watching live sport for attracting new fans to a game.
  • Reach the kids – Sports need to push for school based participation and incentivising schools to play must be a high priority for any sport. Accessible and fun digital content which stands out is another must.
  • Make an eminently playable computer game – Kids (even man sized ones) love FIFA and they love Madden. Sometimes it leads to actually watching the sport itself. Game play is everything.
  • Marketing needs to be spot on – That’s a given. Something clever. Something memorable.
  • Getting stars to defect to your sport helps too – SBW is a good case in point. Rusted on League fans have become casual Union fans. Ditto Israel Folau. If Jarryd Hayne makes it to the NFL just wait and see the response. There was a fair bit of excitement about Jesse Williams and he hasn’t played a regular season game yet.
  • Make the sport safe – This is really an issue for American Football, Rugby League and Rugby Union, but all sports need to focus on this issue, especially if they want Mums to let their kids play.
  • Get free to air coverage – Ask the A League if this has helped exposure of the game in Australia. It might be too late for the NBL but free to air coverage could again build a following for the sport.
  • Make sure if the games aren’t on free to air that they are definitely on Pay TV.
  • Making the games available online is another must.
  • Making in depth statistical analysis of the sport freely available – Nothing piques the interest of serious sports lovers more than advanced metrics. Nerdvana.

What they shouldn’t do

  • Don’t be arrogant about it – Nothing turns off casual fans quicker than a sport which is so arrogant it has no room for new fans. Sport must be easily accessible to attract new fans.
  • Don’t let strikes happen – Nothing turns off fans quicker than a player strike. Fans want to see their favourite players playing.
  • Don’t open the door for rival competitions – The Super League war in Australia set the game back years. Ultimately it has led to a better competition, but many fans turned off the game forever.
  • Don’t let their players commit unsavoury or criminal acts and then let them continue to play – Exhibit A – Ray Rice.
  • Don’t let their players cheat – Exhibit A – Lance Armstrong.
  • Being racist is bad too – Exhibit A, B and C – Donald Sterling.

What was sweeter than Jelly Bread?

  • Bentleigh Greens into the FFA Cup semi-finals. Nice work.
  • Four Nations – Compulsory viewing. Good crowds in Whangarei and Melbourne to back up a bumper first weekend double header in Brisbane. The games are super-competitive as well. I’m calling Sydney out too. If you want to regain your mantle as the Rugby League capital of the World start turning up to games.
  • Samoa played an outstanding brand of Football again. They were in the Kiwis face all day and to be honest the Kiwis were lucky to win.
  • England played bravely as well. They literally lost by a fingernail.
  • Ben Hunt. Made an instant impact coming on. Tim Sheens has to get credit for bringing him on at the time he did. It was a ‘rocks or diamonds’ kind of decision which paid dividends.
  • The Golden State Warriors. Sacking their coach after back to back playoff campaigns was a big call but they’re off to a hot start.
  • West Sydney Wanderers – Asian Champions League Champions. The difficulty of that task is not to be underestimated. Nice.
  • SBW. From the Kiwis to the All Blacks seamlessly.
Alan Pardew - Photo by Sacha Zarb - CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Alan Pardew (the gaffer not looking as sharp as he normally does) – Photo by Sacha ZarbCC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

  • Alan Pardew – It was looking pretty lonely at the top for Pardew but his team’s recent run of form may have turned the tide back in his favour.

What wasn’t?

  • The Kangaroos are not looking like themselves. They will be tested by Samoa who rattled the Kiwis to within an inch of their lives.
  • The Dallas Cowboys went from very, very high to very, very low in a very, very short period of time.

EPL Tips for Matchday 11 

Home teams first

Liverpool vs Chelsea – Chelsea 2-0 (Though Liverpool are off to a disappointing start and pressure is building by the day on Balotelli, it isn’t the end of the world. In reality, they are only 1 win from the Champion’s League places and Sturridge will come back one day. Unfortunately for them Chelsea are back in town right now)

Burnley vs Hull – Hull 1-0 (Burnley were brave for most of the game last week, however, then the flood gates opened. It has been a familiar tale for them and I expect Hull will break their resolve again this week. It is going to be a long season for the Clarets)

Man U vs Crystal Palace – Man U 3-1 (Man U will be looking to put their derby disappointment behind them and add to this week’s misery for Palace who are flirting with relegation again in the early season. I don’t think they will go down but this week won’t help)

Southampton vs Leicester – Southampton 2-0 (The Southampton bubble will burst this year at some stage but it won’t be this week. I’m not saying they will drop out of European contention but I don’t think they will end up 2nd)

West Ham vs Aston Villa – West Ham 2-1 (Ditto the Hammers. I like their team though. It has been a refreshing change with Downing joining the party last week. I expect Sakho will fill his boots this week too if he makes it on to the pitch that is)

QPR vs Man City – City 2-0 (City are in a tricky stretch at the moment. A little bit out of sorts mid-week (being reduced to 9 men will do that to a team) but I don’t expect QPR will give them too much trouble)

Sunderland vs Everton – Everton 2-1 (Sunderland are very hard to get a read on this year. It is almost like the squad they sent to Southampton was a completely different team to the one that played Crystal Palace and Stoke. The Southampton game is probably a statistical aberration. At any rate, I think the Toffees will steal their lollies this week. That had to be said at least once this season)

Tottenham vs Stoke City – Spurs 2-0 (Spurs were much better last week. It was a good bounce back game after letting Newcastle off the hook and I expect they will have enough to send Stoke away disappointed this week as well)

West Brom vs Newcastle – Draw 1-1 (Newcastle are in a purple patch of form after winning four in a row and they should have enough momentum to at least salvage a defensively minded draw out of this one. They are playing for Pardew now. Perhaps they always were, however, now they are playing well for him, which makes all the difference)

Swansea vs Arsenal – Arsenal 2-1 (I think Swansea are an above average team. I love their mid-field. I think Arsenal should be contending for the Champion’s League positions all season though)

I’ve adopted the scoring system utilised by Mark Lawrenson on the BBC (a correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth ONE point and picking an exact score THREE points) and even though he wouldn’t know me from Adam we are going head to head all season long. It’s on like Donkey Kong (unless I get a letter from his lawyer or Donkey Kong’s lawyer and then I’m tipping against myself again).

Last week – Me – 10 (6 from 10 with 2 perfect scores) and Lawro – 5 (3 from 10 with 1 perfect score) 

Season so far – Me – 77 and Lawro – 75 (Lawro definitely cooling off now) 

Shout out to my workmate Steve who used my tips last week but still beat me by 60 points in the Selco Predictor competition with judicious placement of the multiplier. “I took your tips and I made them better” he was heard to say around the traps. Nice.

Fantasy Premier League

This is revealing my super nerdy side now.

Transfer of the week – Stewart Downing (West Ham) is looking the goods and the Hammers have a kind run coming up. I traded him straight up for Christian Eriksen (Spurs). Sorry Christian we had a good run.

My team this week – Forster (Southampton), Bertrand (Southampton), Ivanovic (Chelsea), Baines (Everton), Chadli (Spurs), Tadic (Southampton), Fabregas (Chelsea), Downing (West Ham), Sakho (West Ham), Berahino (WBA) and Aguero (Man City) with Jakupovic (Hull), Sigurdsson (Swansea), Duff (Burnley) and Wisdom (WBA) on the bench.

Don’t put too much stock in my thoughts on Fantasy Premier League. I’m only coming 626,931 from 3,344,798.

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Thursday, 13 November 2014 titled ‘Would Obama be better at golf if he practiced more?’

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