SCC FFL Sports Marketing Challenge: 2020 CHAMPS!

Without a doubt, this year’s competition produced some of the most impressive results, particularly given the circumstances facing our competing schools with virtual classrooms and distance learning protocols in place. We were so thrilled to see how well this year’s teachers and students stepped up to meet the challenge.

A standing ovation is in order for all of our competitors this year for an amazing season!

That said, we did have a few standouts, particularly with the final challenge (digital marketing).  Congratulations to Kim Radford’s class at Blacksburg High School in Virginia for winning our 6th annual fantasy football sports marketing competition!  This is the second time they have won the competition, making them the second two-time champions in league history. Way to go San Antonio Sentinels front office!

Blacksburg High School managed to hold off the Portland Pioneers front office (Matt Kabza’s sports marketing class at Grant High School in Oregon) in the last challenge to capture the championship, no easy task considering how well the first year participants performed throughout the competition. To celebrate the championship, the Sentinels will get another trophy to proudly display in class.  Congrats to both schools on a job very well done. This might have been the toughest call in the competition history.

Brandi King’s class at Lyman HS in Florida (Orlando Trash Pandas) also had a great season, taking third place (making a big leap from where they finished in last year’s standings) while John Smulowitz and his students at Dallas HS in Pennsylvania (Keystone Wolverines) landed in fourth.  Richele Falloon’s class from Montgomery County High School in Missouri (San Antonio Honey Badgers) managed to hold off a very impressive season from Rodger Hutley’s students at Little Elm HS in Texas (Orlando Owls) for fifth place. 

We also have a few individual school shout-outs for the response to the digital marketing challenge below…

CHALLENGE #6 (DIGITAL MARKETING) HIGHLIGHTS:

San Antonio Sentinels (Blacksburg HS / Virginia):

Once again, Blacksburg students put together a very comprehensive and thorough response to the challenge presented (digital marketing), including the development of actual mock social media platforms to promote the team and communicate information to Sentinels fans.

The team’s YouTube channel features a stadium tour and highlights of amenities for ticketholders while the Sentinels’ Instagram and Twitter feeds offered a preview of stadium amenities fans would enjoy in the team’s inaugural season. Students also created team-branded TikTok and Facebook pages to promote the franchise.

Another component of the Sentinels’ digital marketing strategy that was particularly impressive was the wide variety of features available to fans through the team’s app. Not only will the app enhance the game day experience by managing traffic flow both in and outside the stadium, but it also includes several features that will boost levels of fan engagement (one of the main requirements to be addressed for this challenge). One of the ideas we thought was really fun was a “you decide” feature at key moments during the game…we could definitely see fans taking advantage of that during games for opportunities to win some cool prizes. We also liked the trivia game to keep fans engaged during breaks in the action, offering a discount for correct answers will certainly help boost sales of concessions and merchandise on game days. Great idea!

Also thought it was great to see the Sentinels communicate all the team’s promotions, game day information, covid policies etc. via an email marketing campaign. Too often students overlook one of the most powerfull communications tools for a sports team to communicate with a large segment of their fan base and rely too much on social media. It was refreshing to see the Sentinels front office invest in an email campaign, particularly given the importance of communicating health and safety information to fans amid the pandemic. Including a spanish language email option was also a smart strategy, especially given the demographics of the team’s home city (excellent job on the market research!).

Last but not least, thought some of the AR/VR ideas were great, certainly a great strategy for engaging fans. Really liked the idea of featuring virtual reality photo booths at stadium entrances, allowing fans to virtually take a photo with their favorite players and then encouraging them to share those photos on social. The VR stadium and locker room feature is also a great idea, but what really stood out was making that an “unlockable” feature so that fans will be encouraged to boost engagement levels for the chance to virtually tour the locker room. Really next level stuff. Way to go Blacksburg High School, congratulations on the big win!

Keystone Wolverines (Dallas HS, Pennsylvania):

Without a doubt, the Wolverines’ front office offered some of the most creative digital marketing strategies in this competition. Gamification was the, well, name of the game for the fan engagement strategy from Dallas High School students in response to sports marketing challenge #6. Some highlights:

  • Field goal flick game – Players will have one minute to make field goals from varying distances by flicking the virtual football towards the goal. For interactivity, there will be a leaderboard that displays the fans names with the most field goals made. 
  • Football toss will be another electronic offering. Fans have to throw the virtual football into a moving basket and they get one minute. There will be baskets from short to long distances. Farther baskets are worth more points than closer ones. This game will also have a leaderboard.
  • The App will have a mobile game such that fans will be able to play as the Wolverines in games against other NFL teams.  One of the apps will be a Madden like game where you can play as the Wolverines against other teams and use your favorite players to simulate future games with your friends or just play for fun. The game will also include challenges such as field goal kicking and throwing challenges. 
  • There will be a bracket challenge for teens and adults. The bracket challenge will have fans fill out their guesses for scores and season record for prizes or even tickets to games. A game where you play as our star quarterback and are throwing balls into a wall with different sized holes in it like one of those carnival games. The smaller the hole, the more points you get for getting the ball through it. 
  • There will be other cool mini games like football throwing to see if you can get the right throw with certain wind speed and players closing you in. Another fun game might be field goal kicking with the same factors added to it. To get more people involved with the app by playing the games, every week we can have the top 3 users on top 3 players with the highest scores earn some merchandise or a free ticket to our next game. 
  • Photo generator on the app to allow people to easily edit players, coaches, and mascot into their photos Fantasy football like game on our website and through the app for families and friends to keep stats and play with our players 
  • A paper football virtual game in our app to keep kids and fans entertained, they will also be able to interact and play with friends. 
  • Another game where there is a virtual wolverine that you have as a pet and you have to feed it and take care of it every day or two or else it gets sad and leaves you. Like one of those Tamagotchi things from the 90’s.
  • A game where you play as a janitor in the stadium and your job is to make sure the stadium is clean by game day. You can have minigames where you mop the floors in a certain spot or one where you cut and paint the grass on the football field.

Dallas HS students earned a perfect score in response to sports marketing challenge #6 (digital marketing)…way to go Wolverines front office! Seriously impressed with all the fun ideas!

Portland Pioneers (Grant HS, Oregon):

Oh so close! Before highlighting some of the fantastic ideas presented by Grant HS students in this challenge, we should point out that this is the best finish we have seen from a newcomer in the competition. Brilliant work throughout, just fell a little short in the end…

Really cool to see the development of actual mock social media accounts across all the major platforms…some fun videos on the team’s YouTube channel as well. Thought the hype video was awesome and using a toothbrush as a microphone was a nice touch for the mock coach press conference lol!

LOVED the Pioneers’ website…really well designed and easy to navigate while offering tons of great content. Really thought it was savvy marketing to target a younger generation of fan with all the jam-packed features, insuring you will have a solid fan base for years to come.

Thought the Pioneers’ “cinema” and “audio” was a cool (and unique) way to offer fun content for fans. With cinema (behind-the-scenes and exclusive video content) and audio (“home for Pioneers’ podcasts and original music”), the franchise will most definitely maximize opportunities to engage the fan base.

It was great to see the Pioneers’ stick with a theme that has been consistent throughout the competition with a commitment to community as party of your digital marketing strategy: “Always supporting and connecting with the local community. The Pioneers have created a program that curates the best local products. This program is set up to promote local artists’ music and other works of art (including high school students). This strategy is used to enhance Fan Engagement and increase the sense of belonging amongst our fanbase.” Including ACTUAL audio samples (that’s one talented student btw) was a great touch.

All in all, another fantastic challenge response to wrap up an amazing “rookie” season in this competition. Grant High School has a lot to be proud of, you represented Portland well! Great job!

San Antonio Honey Badgers (Montgomery County HS, Missouri):

One thing we didn’t see a lot of from team’s this year is an emphasis on push notifcations to reach fans…this was one of the really next level concepts that we loved to see from students in this competition. The Honey Badgers’ front office plans to use both email and sms to push out special offers and deals to fans. Fantastic. Also loved the VR “stations” positioned around the stadium to create unique experiences for fans.

Really good stuff from Montgomery High School. Great job this year!

Wichita Matadors (Wichita East HS, Kansas):

Some great ideas from the Matadors front office on the team’s social media platforms. Also appreciate seeing Wichita East students recognize the importance of consistency, suggesting the team will post regularly to keep fans engaged, especially when they can’t attend games in person. The team plans to feature posts on Instagram and Facebook of the team getting ready for the game, during the game, and after. LOVE seeing the Matadors’ willingness to be cutting edge and experiment with Reels, that’s awesome. Featuring content like quizzes, trivia, 50/50 polls and Livestreams will provide a great way to engage fans, and, shockingly, the Matadors front office was one of the few to include Snapchat as part of the team’s digital marketing strategy.

Overall, great job from the Matadors’ front office. Another great season from Wichita East students!

*** SCC FFL 2020 FINAL STANDINGS ***

Important reminder for teachers:  No matter where you finished in the standings, please be sure to reiterate what a great job your students did this season.  You all made evaluating each challenge very difficult as the ideas were so creative and everyone demonstrated such a fantastic understanding of the business of sports throughout the competition. Again, this project goes above and beyond what most schools are doing in class and your students all deserve to be commended for a job well done. At the end of the day, all we really hope to accomplish with our fantasy football project is a fun way to teach sports marketing.  Hopefully we managed to do just that.  Congrats to you all, great work.

Hope to see you all again next season!

SchoolTeam NameStateTotal Points
Blacksburg HSSan Antonio SentinelsVA1493
Grant HSPortland PioneersOR1489
Lyman High SchoolOrlando Trash PandasFL1467
Dallas High SchoolKeystone WolverinesPA1459
Montgomery CountySan Antonio Honey BadgersMO1458
Little ElmOrlando OwlsTX1449
Wichita East HSWichita MatadorsKS1438
RandolphLouisville RidgerunnersWI1437
Richardson HSLittle Rock BadgersTX1436
Carl SandburgMexico City AztecsIL1435
KCTCSalt Lake PhenomsMI1226
Kellam High School Virginia Beach SharksVA953
Stafford HSMiami SharksVA475
Victor J AndrewChi-Town Chargers IL470
HCHS College & Career AcademyHonolulu StingraysGA463
KIHGrand Rapids RogueMI236