Five Keys to the Game

In all my interaction over the years with students, whether it was during my time with the Portland Trail Blazers or events hosted by Sports Career Consulting (SCC), the question I get asked most frequently is focused on what steps are necessary for pursuing a career in sports. It is a great question to be sure, and obviously one that many students would like to see answered. It is not, however, one that is answered easily, nor is it one with any “correct” answer or a magical solution. The good news is that there are several key pieces of advice anyone interested in a career in sports should be aware of and we’ll share them in today’s blog post. Rest assured that this is not any complex formula by any stretch, but one that I can assure you is paramount to breaking into the industry. Here are our five keys to the game…

Five Keys to the Game

Key #1: Be Passionate

Regardless of which career path you choose (sports, entertainment or otherwise), find something you can be passionate about. Passion is one of the primary, underlying characteristics shared by the majority of people who find success in their chosen field. Take Kobe Bryant for example…one could argue that very few have played the game of basketball with more passion. It is that passion that drives Kobe to be one of the best (if not the best) basketball player in the world today.

Do not think for a second, however, that you need to be a professional athlete to be passionate about something. Consider Phil Knight, founder of Nike, who used his passion for running to fuel a passion for developing (and later selling) the perfect running shoe. His passion turned into a multi-billion dollar global brand. Knight’s passion was one of the key ingredients in the recipe for Nike’s success.  In fact, it was recently announced that Phil Knight will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame!

SCC has managed a number of events focused on careers in sports and entertainment which afforded me the luxury of hearing from many prominent industry professionals. One pearl of wisdom that was repeated over and over again is this: Find a job doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! In other words, find a way to channel your passions and funnel them into an energy that will translate to success in whatever career path you choose.

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The Best Grilled Cheese In Sports

In honor of today’s celebration of #NationalGrilledCheeseDay, we thought it would be fun to look at which teams offer a grilled cheese item on their concessions menu.  The task was surprisingly challenging as grilled cheese apparently isn’t considered much of a ballpark staple, despite the current trend of creating eclectic food items at sports venues.  It should also be noted that we haven’t actually tried any of these, so the ranking is rather arbitrary.

That said, here are the top five best grilled cheese sandwiches in sports…

Honorable Mentions:

Montgomery Biscuits – “The Gump”

While the  Biscuits actually offer FOUR variations of grilled cheese sandwiches, our vote goes to “The Gump” which incorporates pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, “candied red onions” with pepper jack cheese to provide some zip on sourdough bread.

Chicago White Sox – “Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese”

Thanks Night Train Veeck for the heads up…avocado and bacon added to a grilled cheese sandwich?  Sounds delicious!

Round Rock Express – “Grilled Cheese Dog”

What says baseball more than hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks?  While The Express’ unique spin on a grilled cheese might not contain the peanuts or cracker jacks, but it has successfully combined the hot dog with a traditional, down home comfort food.  According to Minor League Baseball’s website, the “Grilled Cheese Dog” is made with a quarter-pound of Nolan Ryan’s 100-percent hand-selected All Natural Grass Fed Beef wrapped in a grilled cheese sandwich then skewered.  A true Texas delight.

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For Comparison’s Sake

Obviously a lot has been made of Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe’s critical comments of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball program.  The suggestion that their dominance was actually “bad” for the women’s game stirred quite a bit of controversy.  Not that it bothered the UConn women as they steamrolled their way to a historic 4th consecutive championship.

While comparing Husky women’s program to some of the blue blood men’s programs like Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina may prove to be unfair, comparing their impact to a rising power in the men’s ranks might provide a little perspective as to how valuable the UConn brand is to the women’s game.

In a totally unscientific, random but fun exercise, let’s use the Oregon Ducks as an example.  The Ducks earned a #1 seed in the men’s tournament while the Huskies were awarded a #1 seed in the women’s tournament.  Seems like a good place to start, no?

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Everything is Bigger in Texas (Infographic)

Everything is bigger in Texas. Take for example Texas Motor Speedway, site of next weekend’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend.

How big is the venue? While Texas is home to a number of huge sports facilities (like AT&T Stadium with a capacity of over 100,000), Texas Motor Speedway is large enough to fit ALL of the “Big Four” (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) stadiums inside. And for good measure, it could still squeeze Texas A&M’s Kyle Field in (the state’s largest college football stadium).

Check out the infographic they just released for a visual.

Click here to see the news release or download the infographic in PDF form from texasmotorspeedway.com.

 

Social Sixteen: Which Remaining Teams Have Biggest Twitter Following? (Infographic)

The fact that Syracuse basketball, ranked by Forbes last year as the sixth most valuable NCAA basketball program in the country, has just  25,000 Twitter followers could be the upset of the tournament.  An unexpected Final Four run could change all that.  Case in point?  4,000 new followers this week alone.

But where do the rest of the teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament stack up?  This infographic, created by sports marketing students from Helena High School and Capital High School in Montana, provides a nice summary as we gear up for the Sweet Sixteen!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Twitter (and other social media platforms) have a unique ability to manufacture “holidays”, finding reasons to celebrate something just about every day.  With today being Dr. Seuss’ birthday, it is only fitting that “DrSeussDay” is currently trending on Twitter.  Perhaps not coincidentally, #WednesdayWisdom” is also trending.

I love this.  If you think about it, Dr. Seuss should be credited with the creation of the first “motivational poster” through his illustrations and wisdom shared in his books.  Today provides a seamless and fun opportunity for teams to create motivational messaging to share with their fan base.  An inspirational post is more powerful than traditional content in the sense that it creates an emotional connection to the brand.  Tying a message to something as simple as #DrSeussDay and #WednesdayWisdom creates an authentic and organic means for reaching fans of all ages.

Surprisingly, few teams have jumped on the opportunity thus far.  A quick scan of my timeline shows a limited number of posts with #DrSeuss hashtags.  Considering how many teams participate in anything from #NationalToastDay to #LEAPDAY, it seems a bit surprising that more teams haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity today’s “holiday” provides.

That said, here are a few examples of how the sports business business world is taking a moment to pay tribute to the great Dr. Seuss.  If you think about it, Dr. Seuss is actually the originator of the “motivational poster” we see so often in sports through the illustrations and wisdom shared through his books.

The Carolina Panthers’ mascot is all in on #DrSeussDay!

Dartmouth Hockey took a moment to recognize Dr. Seuss as one of the school’s most influential alumni.

The Houston Astros posted a motivational image for fans.  This seems like a slam dunk idea for any team today.

The Houston Texans posted a vine with a player hopping out of the tunnel to start a game with a reference to a Seuss classic, “Hop on Pop.”  Adding visuals like vines and gifs can create an even stronger emotional connection with fans.

This image was posted on NBA on TNT’s Twitter account with the caption “Starring Splash 1 and Splash 2″ in tribute to the Golden State Warriors’ “Splash Brothers.” Pretty clever.
Creating content worth sharing through social channels is always a challenge.  Creativity can be key when trying to capture the attention of fans so kudos to those who have jumped on the #DrSeussDay train today.

Infographic: How are sports marketers targeting the female demographic?

Lately sports marketers have not been shy in their efforts to target female fans and for good reason.  Women now constitute at least 30% of the fan base for all of the “big four” professional sports leagues in the U.S. and 46% of Super Bowl viewers were female.

To provide a closer look, the fine folks at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Business School put together a fantastic infographic offering a quick look at ways brands are working to engage female fans.  For more analysis, check out this story on forbes.com from Kristi Dosh (and follow her on Twitter @sportsbizmiss).

Super Bowl 50 Student Competition Winner!

Congrats to Kirk Helferich’s sports marketing class at Kent Career & Technical Center in Grand Rapids for winning our POP display competition!

Students were tasked with developing a point of purchase display representing a consumer goods brand with a Super Bowl 50 theme. We received a number of really impressive ideas but the students at KCTC stole the show.

Here’s how the students tackled this project (pun intended) via Mr. Helferich:

They started trying to use resources in the room. I told them I could buy some pop, but not enough to make it look great. One of the students called Coke and a store had just returned a few football related signs. So I drove down and they threw in a few shirts for students. They made a SB trophy but thought it looked like a massive baked potato (see pic at end of video) so they kept searching. A few watched some videos on photoshop to learn background removal, and then they went crazy on finding backgrounds they liked. They impressed me with how they solved problems when conflict arose, and with teamwork. It was a great time for this project as things start to drag between Xmas break and spring break.

Way to go guys.  We are sending some prizes your way!

NFL Jersey Sales

Think fast: which NFL player sells the most jerseys in Hawaii?  Titans’ standout rookie QB Marcus Mariota (who originally hails from Hawaii)?  Nope.  The most popular jersey in Hawaii is actually Seahawks’ star Russell Wilson.

That is just a sample of some of the data provided by Dick’s Sporting Goods.  See what other interesting information your students uncover by reviewing the following graphics in class…

Super Bowl 50 #SportsBiz Recap

While the majority of football fans today will discuss the possibilities of Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset, favorite commercials and the halftime performances, marketers are busy analyzing the overall impact on brands.  So, which brands won the Super Bowl?  Here is a recap of what the experts are saying about the performance of advertisers, sponsors and social media campaigns…

 

Ad Winners & Losers

Adweek’s top 5 commercials from Super Bowl 50:

  1. Jeep
  2. T-Mobile
  3. Audi
  4. Heinz
  5. Doritos
AdWeek also examined which Super Bowl ads “resonated” with viewers.
Click here to see which spots created the most chatter.

USA Today’s “AdMeter” winners:

  1. Hyundai “First Date”
  2. Heinz “Weiner Stampede”
  3. Doritos “Ultrasound”
  4. Doritos “Dogs”
  5. Hyundai “Ryanville”
More from USA Today AdMeter…click here to see the voting for most underrated spots from Super Bowl 50, the top five worst ads and much more.
Postano.com tracked the “performance” of the Super Bowl commercials and offers a fantastic breakdown (and some cool graphics) of Sunday’s ads.  Click here to view the analysis as well as every single ad from the big game.