The Sports Business Exchange
A Trade Journal for Young Sports Business Professionals Spring 2010 -Volume 2, Issue 1
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Table of Contents Founderâ€™s Message: TSBX 2010 Joshua Duboff Page 4 With one year in the rear view mirror, The Sports Business Exchangeâ€™s Founder looks ahead to the coming years.
An Analysis of MyFootballClub As A Brand Community Guilherme Guimaraes Page 6 It is a case study about a British Football club that was taken over by web users and it is now run through a virtual community: MyFootballClub.co.uk.
Participation in the Olympics: Does the NHL Really Have a Choice? Amanda M. Miller Page 16 An examination of the issues surrounding the NHL's impending decision on whether to schedule a break in their schedule to accommodate the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Marketing Intercollegiate Athletics at the NCAA Division III Level Cheryl Robinson Page 19 The article identifies the benefits and challenges that come with marketing an NCAA Division III college/university verse a Division I college/university.
twitter.com/TSBX Spring 2010
Founder’s Message: TSBX 2010 Joshua Duboff
The Spring 2010 Issue marks the beginning of year two for The Sports Business Exchange. I‘d like to first take an opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the journal over the last year, and I don‘t just mean the writers. There have been many, many, many people who have helped get The Sports Business Exchange to the point where it is today. On more than one occasion, I‘ve mentioned The Sports Business Exchange to someone at a conference or convention and they responded with words of acknowledgement that they knew what TSBX was all about. One year in, I think this is a big accomplishment. Joshua Duboff is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sports Business Exchange. Outside of The Sports Business Exchange, Duboff works in collegiate sports media, sponsorship, and marketing. He has previously held positions with a broad spectrum of companies and has worked with many major clients. He can be reached at duboff@thesportsbusiness exchange.com.
The Sports Business Exchange will continue to strive to be resource for young sports business professional across the country and across the world (our first international article appears in this issue). Earlier this month, The Sports Business Exchange entered into a partnership with the Journal of Sports Administration & Supervision (JSAS). I am very excited to be partnering with the JSAS and I am looking forward to exchanging articles with them starting with the Summer 2010 issue. The complete press release can be found at the back of this issue. I see this partnership as a key first step in expanding the breadth and influence of The Sports Business Exchange. There are several initiatives and goals that have been set for the coming year that I‘d like to share with our readers.
Quality Assurance – We received a lot of great articles this year, but we also received a lot of poor articles as well. I want to ensure that all articles included in The Sports Business Exchange are worthwhile, well research, and provide a benefit to our readers. To that end, we have officially started The Peer Review Board which will begin reviewing articles for the Summer 2010 issue. The Peer Review Board will be tasked with reading articles and providing a rating which will be used as a standard against other submitted articles. We have already welcomed two members to The Peer Review Board and will be offering membership to several more young sports business professionals within the next few weeks. Growth – The partnership with the JSAS is just the first of many announcements to 4
come about expanding the reach of the journal. I want each issue to be read by thousands of sports professionals, not hundreds. We will be working with other partners to distribute the journal as well. This will help to ensure the continued growth of The Sports Business Exchange. We have already begun discussions with other partners and we hope to have those wrapped up shortly. Growth is already evident. As mentioned above, the Spring 2010 issue features the first article by a young sports business professional approved from an international submission. Increased resources for young professionals - To be honest, I don‘t know what this means quite yet. The focus of The Sports Business Exchange will remain to provide an outlet for practitioner articles written by young sports business professionals. All I know is that there is more we can be doing to cultivate and assist young sports business professionals in their initial years within the industry. I‘m open to suggestions (email@example.com). I‘d like to again thank everyone who has made it possible for The Sports Business Exchange to get to this point. We could not have done it without you. Here‘s to Year Two! Cheers, Joshua Duboff Founder, Editor-in-Chief
What’s Hot on The Sports Business Exchange Blog Jan. 11: Make Networking Work for You Feb. 22: Featured Young Professionals Series: Steve Gibbs Apr. 1: The Sports Business Exchange and Journal of Sport Administration & Supervision announce partnership www.thesportsbusinessexchange.com/tsbx-blog
An Analysis of MyFootballClub As A Brand Community Guilherme Guimaraes
This articles was written in São Paulo, Brazil. Therefore, the text presented in this article is not perfect American English. However, to keep the integrity of the article, TSBX has made no changes to grammar or spelling. The article appears in the form it was submitted.
Guilherme is a sports marketing professional with experience in developing and implementing marketing strategies, layout and material approvals, promotions, events and activation, clients, partners and sponsors relations and prospection. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 – INTRODUCTION This case study will analyse MyFootballClub (MyFC) as a brand community acknowledging and understanding the best practices on the field. MyFC was a project launched in 2007 to get 50,000 people together, each contributing 35 pounds to take-over a football club (MyFootballClub Website). The owners would then be responsible for every decision involving the club and the team, from hiring players and deciding on partnership agreements to selecting the starting line-up through online voting.
In February 2008, close to 30,000 users had joined and paid the 35 pounds each, which triggered the take-over of Ebbsfleet United FC. Since then, the owners have already contributed to decisions such as an agreement with Nike to be next year‘s kit provider and the starting line-up for several matches, including the club‘s lifetime highlight, the FA Trophy Final match, played (and won by Ebbsfleet United) at Wembley against Torquay. All these decisions are made and discussed between the owners on the community website. This case study is so structured in the following way: the next section will discuss the objectives of the work, with the methods used being presented subsequently; this will be followed by the theory framework that guided this study and a description of MyFootballClub website. The sixth section will then compare the practice and the theory and suggestions and recommendations will then be offered with a conclusion on the findings. 2 – OBJECTIVES This case study will analyze MyFC as a brand community, a term first introduced by 6
Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001) to describe communities formed around ―branded goods or services‖ (412). A comparison with the best practices presented by the theory about brand and virtual or online communities (Kozinets, 2002), will be made, which will then generate suggestions and recommendations. There is no intention of producing a success guide for brand communities, but to analyse the applicability of the theory to MyFC case specifically and acknowledge areas of excellence and areas for improvement. 3 – METHODS To perform the research, the author had to become a member of the community, which required the inclusion as one of the owners, not necessarily in this order. In fact, the membership of the community was what triggered this work, since it was realized how it could contribute to the project. Observation of the interactions between the members, of the members with the team running the project, the members with the brand and its concept (the members as owners of the club), which according to McAlexander et al. (2002) describe the customer centric element of brand communities, were performed using on-field observations and ―netnography‖ (Kozinets, 2002). According to this author, netnography describes the use of ethnography, which Veal (1997) states as a method that seeks ―to see the world through the eyes of the ones being researched‖ (140), adapted to the online world. Since material extracted from the website (discussion forum quotations, articles and news) will be used to understand the practice and compare it with the theory, this term fits perfectly with the work undertaken. Similar methods have been used before specifically to research online brand communities, although not always specifically citing the term (Schau and Muniz, 2002, Cova and Pace, 2005, O‘Reilly and Doherty, 2006, Mattar, 2003, Luedicke, 2006 and Hollenbeck and Zinkhan, 2006). On-field observations were performed in an owners meeting prior to the FA Trophy Final and in the stadium during the match. Veal (1997) claims ethical issues surrounding observations since the objects of the observation don‘t necessarily know they‘re being observed, but the author presented himself both in the website and in person as a ―member/researcher‖. Since the author is also a member of the club and that it was made clear that there was no intention of harming the club or the individuals, it is believed this acknowledgement will lead to little or maybe no bias. The other members actually wished good luck in the research. In order to preserve the members‘ confidentiality, names are not going to be displayed with their respective quotations. 4 – THEORY FRAMEWORK As can be seen by the amount of work that used netnography or similar methods to speSpring 2010
cifically analyse brand communities, a lot has been written on the subject since Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001) first introduced the term (other examples of studies around the subject are Kim - work in progress, McAlexander et al., 2003, McAlexander et al., 2002 and Thorbjornsen et al., 2002). Probably, the main importance of brand communities is the understanding that it is a strong tool to build brand loyalty since the community membership acts as an exit barrier to the consumers, due to the commitment they display with the product and the brand and also with other members (Holt, 2004, Elliot and Percy, 2007, O‘Reilly and Doherty, 2006, Kozinets, 2002, McAlexander et al., 2003, McAlexander et al., 2002, Gommans et al., 2001, Kozinets, 1999 and Muniz and O‘Guinn, 2001). This huge amount of work in the subject led to evolutions in the conceptualization around the subject. Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001: 412) defined a brand community as a ―specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand‖ and stated the relationship between the customers of a brand as complementary to the relationship of the consumers with the brand in those communities. The authors identified three core components of community in brand communities. The first of them is consciousness of kind, which imply an intrinsic connection between the members and a sense of difference from non-members, ―a shared knowing of belonging‖ (413). McWilliam (2000) called the relationships among members as ―genuine relationships with like-minded people‖ (45). In MyFC this is clear, since the members chose to pay the 35 pounds and join this unique project. It is common to see in the forums the understanding and acknowledgement of this unique nature by the members. This is illustrated in the dialogue below between two members (quotes are present in the exact way they were in the website): “Do you know why this will work? Its simple, i inherited my football club from my uncle (im a united fan, LEGENDS). Despite being a fanatical supporter and nearly getting into a barfight when they lost to Milan at the San Siro, i already feel a different kind of excitement about the team we are gonna buy. I'll be a part of them like i could never be with Utd, also theres something more real, more honest and potent about a lower league team, success isnt expected but when it comes, even in the smallest form, its MAGIC!! I for one am looking forward to buying my new teams Kit and experiencing that quest for a glimmer of hope week in week out. Anyone Else?” ―there will definitely be a unique and close connection to the club‖ 8
They also discuss every topic and actually motivate themselves to keep doing so, as can be seen in the quotation below, regarding the release of the clubs financial report: ―Just want to chip in and encourage everybody to keep commenting. There has been some excellent statments and suggestions.‖ The second element is the existence of rituals and traditions, which are used by the consumers to demonstrate legitimacy and authority (Schau and Muniz, 2002). Football and sports in general are a rich field for both (Underwood et al., 2001 and Paulsen, 1986). A song written by some of the members is being sold in MyFC Website and it is being regarded as a members anthem (of course, this is also marketing to increase revenue, but, as stated by McAlexander et al. 2002: 42, ―[m]arketers may also take an active role in establishing the shared rituals, traditions, and meanings that foster consciousness of kind‖). And tradition can be illustrated by the articles regarding the club‘s history and stadium, StoneBridge. Arnould and Thompson (2005) stated that rituals and history are an important basis to be used to build collective identification. The third is a sense of moral responsibility, a feeling of obligation to the community and its members. This is very strong in Figure 1—Source: MyFC, in whose forum the members are always helping each McAlexander et al., 2002 other in understanding issues related to the club and the team. They also go further, calling for each other to help with the club as well, which can be illustrated by the posting below, in which one member calls for the others help in order to decrease the club‘s expenditure: ―I would be curious to know if there are any members who work in various industries capable of providing discounts to the club in terms of Programme Costs - printing, design, etc. As well as Social Club & Refreshment Bar costs - alcohol.‖ McAlexander et al. (2002) acknowledged the correctness of Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001) about the importance of the relationships between members, but went further to also include the customers‘ relationship with their brand possessions, and with the marketing agent and organizations that manage and own the brand as important part of brand communities, as stated earlier. Figure 1 illustrates the differences in the authors‘ brand community models.
McWilliam (2000) stated that brand communities can be formed spontaneously by the consumer or can be initiated by the company owning the brand, which was the case for MyFC, in which the formation of the community was triggered by the launch of the project. The author relates three forms of consumer interaction possible in brand communities: real-time chat rooms, discussion forums (the one adopted by MyFC) and real-time messaging programmes. Hollenbeck and Zinkhan (2006) add blogs as another form of interaction. McWilliam (2000) also relates four key items for successful brand communities: ―- a forum for exchange of common interests; a sense of place with codes of behaviour; the development of congenial and stimulating dialogues leading to relationships based on trust and; encouragement for active participation by more than an exclusive few.‖ (45) These four items will be used as a starting point for this analysis. However, since they are extremely basic elements, others will be added since more recent works on brand communities have added new successful practices to the field. 5 – MyFC WEBSITE The MyFC website is the centre of all the interactions that occur in the community. Apart from a couple of official e-mails sent to the owners, all official and unofficial information is passed through it. The website has several features and functionalities for the members, who need to login to access all of them, such as a shop where it is possible to buy memorabilia and merchandise from both Ebbsfleet United and MyFC, a web television where the owners can watch the games and so know more about the players to support their team selection, an area where the results of every voting are displayed and several others. For this study, the most important ones and the main source of information about the owners and their interactions was a Forum divided by subjects in which any member can post a thread that can be viewed and commented on by any of the other members. Interestingly, this Forum is also used by the team running MyFC to interact with the owners. The Forum also has a moderating team composed by volunteer members that (try to) organize the discussions. In this Forum, there are all sorts of subjects, from simple games of words being played by the members to discussions about the club‘s financial and political life. Another area that also served the researcher was the personal page that each member has, where they can post more information about them and their thoughts about the 10
team and football in general and which was also used to ask for the members‘ authorization to use their own quotations. 6 – THEORY VS. PRACTICE As outlined earlier in this case study, a lot has been written about brand communities, which has generated rich material for any analysis or confrontation between theory and the practice. Most of the practices can be described as initiatives to try to enhance and/ or inculcate even more Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001) core community components (consciousness of kind, rituals and traditions and the sense of responsibility with each other) on the members. Others provide basic fundaments for the existing of the community, such as trust. The comparison between the practices being put in place in MyFC and the theory will start with McWilliam‘s (2000) four key basic aspects of successful brand communities and then proceed to other authors‘ findings. Providing a forum for exchange of common interests helps in all three core components of brand communities, is probably the most basic aspect of any brand community and was present in every authors‘ research about the subject already related in this case study (for example, McAlexander et al., 2002, Kozinets, 2002 and Schau and Muniz, 2002). In fact, McAlexander et al. (2002) claimed that ―[a]mong the things that may or may not be shared within any given community (...) one thing seems always to be shared: the creation and negotiation of meaning‖. This is definitely the case of MyFC, which has a discussion forum as a central part of the community, where the owners can discuss every subject related to the project, including their belief of the concept of the project, as can be seen in the quotation below from a discussion about the members‘ autonomy on hiring players: “… do not get where you are coming from at all,cant see how giving up one of the main planks of the whole concept of myfc , will in the long term give the membership more power , I would argue exact the opposite , I am not willing to give up this part of which i bought into” The second aspect outlined by McWilliam (2000), the provision of a sense of place with codes of behavior is needed for any relationship between people. Again, MyFC applies these practices, since its forum has a code of conduct. Although it appears as unwritten, unofficial rules, whenever a member feels other members are being abusive, they are quick to reinforce its importance. “Can we please stop posting derogatory comments about new members please. Yes some of the ideas may seem off the wall and some of them have not become accustomed to the established forum etiquette: however, calling them idiots, retards and Nazis and the like is not going to improve matters is it.” Spring 2010
The quotation above also demonstrates a preoccupation of the members in trying to stimulate (or at least, don‘t de-stimulate) the active participation of more than a few members (McWilliam, 2000), in this case, new members. For MyFC, encouraging a bigger involvement in the community to come from more than an ―exclusive club‖ (O‘Reilly and Doherty, 2006) is crucial for its survival, since membership is going to be renewed every year and more involved members are less likely to leave the community and the brand (Holt, 2004, Elliot and Percy, 2007, Kozinets, 2002, McAlexander et al., 2003, McAlexander et al., 2002, Gommans et al., 2001, Kozinets, 1999 and Muniz and O‘Guinn, 2001). Therefore, in MyFC there seems to exist a dependence of the brand and the community on the involvement and participation of a great amount of members. The fourth aspect of McWilliam‘s (2000) successful practice that has a direct influence on consciousness of kind and the sense of responsibility to the community and its members is the development of dialogues that lead to relationships based on trust. Trust that Abdul-Rahman and Hailes (2000) claim to be vital for all human interaction, here included virtual or online communities. These dialogues are also important since the community as a whole benefits from the exchange of knowledge (McAlexander, 2002) and enhance the support of one member to the other (Hollenbeck and Zinkhan, 2006). MyFC promotes this in the forum and by allowing the members to create their own, smaller network of ―friends‖, although this latter practice could stimulate the establishment of ―exclusive clubs‖. Going even deeper in the built relationship, O‘Reilly and Doherty (2006) studied stimulation by the brand team of ―family‖ formation around a ―music b(r)and‖ (138) and outlined its pros (i.e. the deepness of their involvement) and cons (i.e. the unquestionable support expected by the members from the members). A similar situation has been taking place in MyFC with the stimulation of the concept of all the members being owners. This also can have pros (i.e. the level of involvement) and cons (i.e. the demand for high control on the brand/community). Although this might seem to be the essence of the project (as can be seen in the slogan of the project: ―Own the club, pick the team‖ – MyFC Website), this is already generating controversies. Some members are starting to question it, positioning themselves as customers in order to claim for what they really ―bought‖. Again in a discussion about the autonomy of the members in running the club, this quotation illustrates it: “We are paying for a service and this is what we are getting. Why is it okay here? Would it be okay if your waiter treated you this way? Your mechanic? Enough.” This topic leads to the next best practice found in the literature: a low level of control on the relationship and the subjects being discussed (Cova and Pace, 2005, Abdul-Rahman and Hailes, 2000, Thorbjornsen et al., 2002 and Bruckman et al., 1994). Although 12
McWilliam (2000) doesn‘t place this as a key successful factor for online brand communities, he acknowledges the importance of this issue. However, due to the influence it can have on relationships built on brand communities, it is also considered in this case study. Cova and Pace (2005), Abdul-Rahman and Hailes (2000) and Bruckman et al. (1994), suggest that the moderation must be only to avoid excesses and abuses and, if possible, even be performed by volunteer members of the community, exactly the model idealized by MyFC. However, there seems to have had other kinds of moderations, going against Thorbjornsen et al. (2002) and Cova and Pace‘s (2005) suggestion of providing a free space where even complaints and bad feed-backs about the brand can be made. The quotation below illustrates complaints about over policing the threads: ―I am concerned because the Operator closed this thread because he did not like that a member of the WT [Web Team], in this case [name], disrespected the membership and was being held accountable for it by a few members, myself included, in subsequent posts.‖ Another important aspect present in the literature is the potentially tense relationship between the brand producers and the members, especially if the company is seeing for over exposing the brand and/or over exploring the community for commercial purposes (O‘Reilly and Doherty, 2006 and Cova and Pace, 2005). In MyFC there are always emails to the owners advertising the last merchandise launched, but in a really discrete way. The only recurring sales push is for the acquisition of extended membership for the following years. The fact the most of the brand producers are also members of the community as owners, helps lowering these potential tensions. The last of the best practices found in the literature, was also acknowledged by McWilliam (2000), but again not considered as one of the key factors: carrying out social events for the members (McAlexander et al., 2002, Muniz and O‘Guinn, 2001, Luedicke, 2006 and Elliot and Percy, 2007). Since it can have a strong positive impact in all aspects of a brand community it is also considered in this analysis. McWilliam (2000) suggests that they don‘t necessarily need to be in-person, but can also be run through the web. According to McAlexander et al. (2002), Muniz and O‘Guinn (2001) and Luedicke (2006:489): ―… these events play an important role for reproducing and updating shared meaning, for retaining old members, attracting new ones, and deepening social ties among owners, spouses, friends, children, club board members, representatives of the manufacturers, and guests.‖ McAlexander et al. (2002) also place these events as perfect opportunities for marketers to exercise an active role in helping establish and consolidate rituals, traditions and Spring 2010
meanings. Although football presents excellent opportunities for MyFC to carry out these social events in the form of the club matches, only one has been done by the producers of the brand, in a match played at StoneBridge, and the members have organized a couple of others themselves. 7 – RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS Based on the analysis performed in this case study a set of suggestions and recommendations will now be discussed. A practice that was briefly outlined in the literature on the level of control exercised on brand communities, but has a bigger importance for MyFC because it can damage seriously the project is transparency. Although for other brand communities it is also important in setting the code of behaviors that rules the forums, for MyFC it has a broader importance since the project deals with paid memberships. The best way to achieve this transparency is to have official, written rules for the forum that guarantee a balance between free speech and the sense of community (McWilliam, 2000) and schedules stating clear timings and goals for the release of crucial information. This would facilitate set/ control expectations and limit complaints, and, therefore, help embed the ownership feeling deeper on the members. Also important is to release the information and provide regular official communication with all the members, regardless of constant access to the forum. This is a hunch to another crucial aspect for MyFC: guaranteeing involvement and participation from more than just an ―exclusive club‖. Since now the members can only access the subjects being discussed by accessing the website, a good way of both keeping less ―online‖ members aware of the discussions and trying to encourage them to participate more would be to send weekly summaries of the ―hot topics‖ on the forum. As was outlined earlier, the club has run only one event for the members, which was the organizing of transport for a match (paid for by the members). Although doing this kind of activity more frequently will help deepen the members‘ relationship with the community, there are opportunities for other activities. The club could run workshops for the members to interact with the players and manager. This gives the members a feeling of importance, since the brand is there in the form of a person for them, and creates a sense of indebtedness and goodwill from the consumers towards the brand (McAlexander et al., 2002). To increase participation even from members living in places far from StoneBridge, these workshops could be broadcasted through the internet. A less interesting, less investment demanding alternative, but still with good potential would be live chats with them. One alternative does not necessarily exclude the other. 14
A final recommendation is to involve partners, sponsors, staff, supporters and owners in charitable events. Although the project is now having huge media coverage due to its uniqueness (also helped by the impact of the Wembley appearance), activities like that will help keep the club on the minds of the people and build a good brand image. These activities could also help gather new members and are definitely relationship bonders. They also have the potential to help gather Ebbsfleet United supporters‘ and community‘s trust on the project (Hollenbeck and Zinkhan, 2006). The first two recommendations are fairly simple and quick to be implemented. The last two, however, will probably require more resources but are the ones which have the potential to generate the best results and can, actually, increase the club revenues. 8 – CONCLUSION This case study analyzed MyFC as a brand community and, based on theory and the observations of the members, presented recommendations that could help improve the involvement and relationship of the members with the community. Since this research focused on MyFC as a brand community, a research on the members‘ expectations would definitely help point to other areas of improvement and/or adjustments.
How should the NCAA structure the D-I Men's Basketball Championships? 13%
Keep it at 64 teams Expand it to 96 teams
88% Spring 2010
Participation in the Olympics: Does the NHL Really Have a Choice? Amanda M. Miller
Last month, the 2010 Olympic Games officially ended, but debate about the National Hockey League‘s (NHL) participation in the 2014 Games continues as their regular season is now back in full swing. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked point-blank whether the NHL can keep the players from playing in Sochi, but he politely declined to answer the question. Amanda M. Miller is a sports business professional who will be earning her MBA in May of 2010 from Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business. She has experience in public relations, operations, and event management, as well as a 12+ year career in sports broadcasting. She can be reached at: amanda.marie.miller@asu .edu.
What he would say was that ―from a hockey standpoint, this has been a terrific tournament. What you‘re seeing is NHL hockey. It‘s an NHL arena, NHL ice, NHL rules, NHL officials, and 140+ of our players, so we‘re not surprised at how good the tournament‘s been.‖1 While mentions of the NHL were generously sprinkled throughout the telecasts by NBC announcers, that worldwide publicity may not outweigh the potential risks for the league. Estimated figures put the amount of NHL contracts on the Olympic ice at around $2 billion (yes, $2,000,000,000).
What that means is that the entire fate of the NHL season could rest on one round robin Olympic game. If Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins had been injured during one of Canada‘s games, what do the Penguins say to their season ticket holders? Do sponsors lose out because of the Penguins inevitable fall in the standings? Does this change the course of the rest of the regular season and playoffs? What about the Buffalo Sabres? Could they have afforded to lose goalkeeper Ryan Miller (USA) to an injury sustained in a non-NHL game? Luckily, there were no serious injuries to any NHL stars, but the potential was there. And while the NHL brass surely breathed a sigh of relief at the conclusion of the gold-medal game, they are not keen to put their players in that kind of situation again. Case in point, there was a bit of a scuffle between the NHL and the national federations when the NHLPA asked its members to secure insurance for ‗Orientation Camps‘ prior to the Olympics. ―The NHL believes that a player‘s contract contains no legal language allowing them to take part in any sort of international gathering before the start of NHL training camp, and as such, they can suspend a player, if not dissolve his contract 16
altogether, if he gets hurt during what is not deemed to be "club business."2 The insurance they were asking players to procure is extremely expensive, and set the tone for their later comments about not putting the NHL season on hiatus for Sochi 2014. Interestingly enough, I have seen numerous instances over the last few weeks of people that are now following the NHL just because of their experience watching the Olympic contests. For example, Matt Horan, a Tampa, Florida, resident, said via Facebook ―I'm actually watching Hockey [sic] highlights on SportsCenter now, hoping to see someone from the Olympics that I recognize. Perhaps the Olympic experiment has had the desired effect!‖3 A twitter user, Pamela_86, noted: ―Getting major withdrawal from the olympics. Don‘t suppose any1 knows any NHL live streaming sites? I need a hockey fix! :P‖4 Similarly, Sam of ohemgeeitssam.tumblr.com stated ―i was inspired by the olympics so much that I am now watching the NHL and want to take advanced skating lessons and play hockey myself. [sic]‖5 Team USA General Manager Brian Burke said ―I think people who watched the Olympic tournament would be hard-pressed not to fall in love with our game.‖6 So the question becomes whether raising the awareness of the NHL is worth the risk of having one of the star players getting hurt. To that end, Bettman intimated that where the Olympics are held would be a consideration in the decision-making process. The Vancouver games were practically in the NHL‘s back yard. Sochi is 5,000 miles away from the NHL headquarters in New York City. It may seem to Bettman and the NHL that they are giving the Olympics more than they are getting in return. All 46 players in the gold medal game currently play in the NHL.1 Player injuries could be extremely detrimental to teams that just two weeks ago were on a roll. Don Maloney, the General Manager of the Phoenix Coyotes, stated that "(For) the NHL, at least at this stage, there is no tangible financial benefit.‖ 7 So what is the NHL to do? One step would be to cool down those discussions right now. After an exciting, sudden-death overtime gold medal game, it will be difficult to have a rational discussion about removing NHL players from the Olympics. In a few months, cooler heads will prevail, and those talks may not make front-page news. A full two weeks after the Olympics ended, the biggest NHL story was about the Vancouver Canucks and their 44-day absence from their home building. They have played their last 14 games on the road (going 8-5-1 in the process). Does that put this team at a Spring 2010
competitive disadvantage? They are currently first in their division, but will the wearand-tear of being on the road for the better part of a month be a factor down the stretch? The NHL has several issues that need to be weighed. Their main point of contention seems to be that the momentum of a season with no breaks combined with the potential for a catastrophic injury to a star player with no recourse for the NHL team is cause enough to consider discontinuing the practice of putting the NHL season on hiatus during an Olympic year. On the other hand, they also must keep in mind that should they take their players out of contention for Olympic teams: 1) the level of potential backlash from fans that want to see their favorite players play for their national teams, 2) that NHL news during that two-week time period may be drowned out by Olympic coverage anyway, and 3) the current NHL players do have other leagues that they can play in, so if the Olympics is a dream of theirs, they may decide not to play in the NHL in 2014. Finally, it should be mentioned that there is a significant difference between NHL and Olympic hockey, beyond just the intolerance for fighting that makes the Olympic contests more family-friendly. As Tim Keown mentions in an article on ESPN.com, the Olympic gold medal game ―combined nationalism, proximity and high stakes in a way the NHL can‘t match.‖8 He goes on to question whether our interest in that kind of monumental contest can really make us care more about a meaningless mid-April game between two middle-of-the-table NHL teams. Marketers know that before you can convince someone to buy a product, the consumer needs to be aware of the product. Is it enough that the Olympics drive up the awareness of NHL hockey every four years? It‘s a difficult decision, and one in which it seems everyone has an opinion. Bettman himself mentioned that the Olympics give the world the opportunity to see their game and hopefully they will come back for more.1 It remains to be seen if that is enough to ensure that NHL professionals will represent their countries in 2014.
Interested in writing for The Sports Business Exchange? TSBX is always interested in new articles from young sports business professionals. Articles can be on any topic related to sports business but must be academic in nature. For more information, visit www.TheSportsBusinessExchange.com.
Marketing Intercollegiate Athletics at the NCAA Division III Level Cheryl Robinson
Being a Sports Marketing Coordinator for a Division III college can be simultaneously exciting, challenging, frustrating and rewarding. Unlike Division I schools, who have entire marketing departments, I am solely responsible for the promotional needs of our teams. (According to the schools‘ websites, only two out of the ten colleges and universities in the New Jersey Division III Athletic Conference have a marketing position within the Athletic Office.)
Cheryl Robinson graduated from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a BA in Business. For several years she has managed/kept score for college basketball, baseball and volleyball teams. She continues to work with Richard Stockton’s men’s basketball team while working as the Sports Marketing Coordinator for the Athletic Office at the College. She can be reached at cheryl.robinson@stockton. edu,
The challenge begins with the fan base. The Division I fan base has been established for years. Enthusiastic loyal fans, college/ university alum, athlete alumni, community supporters and endorsements by Fortune 500 companies contribute to the success of the marketing campaigns. Division III, on the other hand, is a completely different situation. Although each DIII school may be known within its respective community, it is difficult to brand on a national level. My college is one of the few New Jersey DIII schools that does not have a football team. Without football we have to rely on the other two popular sports, soccer and basketball, to draw the crowds. Attendance is about the same for both sports, but basketball has a stronger student and faculty fan following, while the soccer fans are mostly comprised of parents and friends of the athletes. The women‘s games average about half of the spectators as the men‘s games, and, on average, we bring in about three hundred dollars per game night. Of course the fan base and recognition factor greatly influence fundraising abilities. According to an article written by David Dykes and Ed McGranahan on Greenvilleonline.com entitled University Athletic Funds are Public Money Experts Say, some athletic departments, such as Clemson and the University of South Carolina, raise $50 million dollars a year. People feel the need to support their favorite teams; believing that their checks, whether small or large, make them part of the team or in some way help the Irish, the Bruins, the Rams, etc…win the championship. The events of a DIII school are celebrated on a much smaller scale. The fundraising events that I coordinate for our athletic scholarship fund bring in an average of $10,000 each. Paul Plinske PhD, an Associate Director and Graduate Program Director in Sport Administration at the Spring 2010
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse addressed this situation in Raising Friends, Raising Funds: NCAA Division III donors are typically alumni and parents of studentathletes, as opposed to boosters and corporations. Their motivations for giving are more about commitment and loyalty than getting box seats or free advertising space. Since Division III athletics places the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience, athletic fund-raisers at this level must view their job responsibilities differently than those in Division I. Promoting nationally recognized teams and giving donors access to major sporting events is not possible, or a part of the philosophy. This, of course, can make raising funds more difficult. What’s an athletic fund-raiser to do? He or she must start by defining the primary objective differently. The goal is not to raise funds, but to develop the program, provide vision and leadership, and create friends of the program. Most importantly, fund-raisers must establish interpersonal relationships with key constituents. Wining and dining isn’t necessary here. However, showing an interest and articulating the institution’s vision are. Successful marketing strategies are tailored to the community. Many top Division I
What is the biggest sports business story as we head in to 2010? 2010 Winter Olympics & 2010 2010 WorldWinter Cup Olympics & 2010 World Cup
2010 Winter Olympics & 2010 World Cup
The Tiger Woods Saga The Tiger Woods Saga
The Economy The Economy
The Tiger Woods Saga
The Convergence of Sports and The Convergence of Sports and Social Media Social Media
The Convergence of Sports and Social Media
NCAA Conference Realignment NCAA Conference Realignment
NCAA Conference Realignment 31%
schools already have athletic fan/booster clubs up and running. These programs allow parents, alumni, students and community members to donate a certain amount of money which supports athletics. The amount that they pledge/donate determines their level of membership and what they receive (season tickets, number of t-shirts, gym membership, etc…) Like DI, many DIII schools have also implemented a booster program to help raise funds for athletics. On ESPN.com Lauren Reynolds quotes Associate Athletic Director Mike Broeker of Marquette University in her article Creativity Is King When Marketing Smaller Programs, "In the last couple of years, we've diversified our ticket plans and introduced mini plans," explained Broeker. "We try to tailor these packages to specific groups; weeknights might be better suited for young professionals, whereas weekend plans might appeal more to families. We're trying to create something for everybody who enjoys basketball." It‘s up to me to brainstorm marketing strategies to increase attendance at the games. Creative promotions have been the key. For example, our team mascot is the Osprey, and I‘m in charge of a pilot program called ―O-fans‖ which seems to be catching on. Students are encouraged to attend all the athletic games and show their school spirit. There is even a designated section of the bleachers called the O-zone where they congregate together to cheer for the team. I am also currently working on creating a highlight video of our teams. It includes footage of the games as well as comments from the coaches, players and fans. These will be viewed during open houses and throughout the sports center. They will also be used for recruitment purposes. I feel that the promos sell more tickets at the DIII level whereas at the DI level they‘re just an extra bonus/perk; DI tickets sell themselves. Don‘t ask me to explain it, but I discovered the ―Phenomena of the Free T-Shirt.‖ People go crazy over free t-shirts and feel it‘s their sole right to receive them. I‘ve offered rally rags, awareness bracelets, pendants, gift certificates, shoelaces, pompoms and car decals, but nothing compares to tshirts. Free t-shirts can double the attendance at conference games and rival games. Add free food and you have an unbeatable combination. As a smaller school we have to establish our brand by reaching out to the community and organizations to show our support. We host a ―Run/Walk Race‖ each year to raise money for our scholarship fund. We include Health Education sponsored by the local hospital to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. We provide t-shirts promoting the event and sponsors as a means of advertising. We also work with the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters to host athletic clinics with our sports teams. Not only does it help the children at these organizations, but it helps our athletes give back to the community and get to know some of their supporters. In conjunction Spring 2010
with these organizations we hosted an NBA camp called ―Nothing But Net.‖ For one week a different NBA player came and spoke to the basketball campers. In addition to basketball skills, they stressed the importance of education, teamwork and a positive attitude. This is just one of the ways that we are able to start branding ourselves on a national level and breaking the barriers of being a DIII school. There are advantages to the smaller size of the DIII colleges. Classroom sizes can sometimes be as little as 30 students; professors and administrators are able to work more closely with the students and athletes and to have a one-on-one relationship with them. For me it‘s easy to become familiar with the dedicated supporters who come to all the athletic events. I have a chance to talk with them and get to know who they are and which sports are their favorites. It enables me to establish a rapport with them. In 2009 when the men‘s basketball team made it to the NCAA DIII Championship game in Salem, Virginia the fans that were with us from the start of the season were with us at the end of the season, and we were all able to share the experience together. Regardless of the size of the school, the reality of sports marketing today is dependent on multi- media exposure. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have greatly increased our ability to reach an extended fan base and create a more level playing field for the teams and the front office. In the article Schools, Coaches Cash In On Lucrative Media Deals on usatoday.com, Michael McCarthy explains: Across the nation, schools are combining media and marketing rights with their entire athletic programs — from coaching shows to radio broadcasting rights for football, men's and women's basketball and other sports to websites — and selling them to the highest bidder. Many schools in the DIII conference are now broadcasting their basketball games live over the internet on their websites. The goal ultimately will be to have the local cable stations carry the broadcasts, giving them more exposure. Marketing strategies have evolved over time. It‘s not a matter of reinventing the wheel as much as redefining what the wheel is. Although there are many differences between Division I and Division III athletics, one thing is apparent. They all want their teams to succeed.
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Participation in the Olympics: Does the NHL Really Have a Choice? 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80gymGRCJos, February 28, 2010, ESPN.
http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2009/08/does_the_nhl_care_more_about_t.html, Malik, George, August 7, 2009.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/matthoran1?v=feed&story_fbid=368175482462&ref=mf, March 4, 2010.
http://twitter.com/pamela_86/statuses/10438313379, March 13, 2010.
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=520177, ―Despite success, wounds remain for USA Hockey staff,‖ by Mike G. Morreale, March 4, 2010.
March 5, 2010.
―Coyotes GM questions Olympics‘ benefit to NHL,‖ by Jim Gintonio,
February 6, 2010 8
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?page=keown/100302, ―Olympic Hockey as NHL Bounce? Nyet!,‖ by Tim Keown, March 3, 2010.
Marketing Intercollegiate Athletics at the NCAA Division III Level References marked within article.
The Sports Business Exchange and Journal of Sport Administration & Supervision announce partnership NEW YORK—The Sports Business Exchange (TSBX) and the Journal of Sport Administration & Supervision (JSAS) today announced a partnership between the two publications that will involve cross-publication of selected articles on various sport business topics aimed at improving practices of business professionals in the sport industry. Founded by Joshua Duboff in February 2009, TSBX is a sports business trade journal available in both print and online formats, which publishes articles on current events, trends, research, and concerns written from the perspectives of young sport business professionals. Founded in March 2007 by Colby B. Jubenville and Benjamin D. Goss, JSAS is an online, open access, peer-reviewed academic journal designed to develop, advance, disseminate, promote, and preserve knowledge within the academic discipline of sport management by providing a research outlet that is both grounded in academic theory and driven by the needs of practitioners and the environment of the sport industry. The TSBX/JSAS partnership evolved after Duboff and Goss identified considerable similarity and overlaps between the two publications‘ core values and concluded that both publications could increase their audiences and scopes of influence with article exchanges. ―After connecting with Joshua via social media and learning more about TSBX and why he founded it, the obvious benefits of a partnership soon emerged,‖ Goss said. ―Joshua‘s audience of young practitioners are a primary target that we seek to influence with the whitepaper versions of JSAS articles, and certainly academicians can utilize the perspectives of young professionals shared in TSBX with the next generation of entry- and mid-level managers they‘re training to help them successfully make the transition into the professional world.‖ Duboff noted that he also soon saw the potential benefits of a partnership. ―I founded TSBX to give young, front-line sport business professionals a voice and an outlet for best-practice and problem-solving sharing and interactivity to help them find ways to do their jobs better, or simply put, to give them a voice where previously there was none.‖ Duboff said. ―Articles in JSAS are subjected to the rigors of a scientific peer-review process to determine their academic quality, so I felt that sharing the contents of quality academic research with TSBX readers would only add a positive dimension to our publication.‖ Duboff added that JSAS‘s whitepaper format for sharing condensed versions of the academic research provided a useful tool for sport business practitioners. ―Many elements of the sport industry are information-driven, and certainly quality, scientifically assessed information is often vital, but the format of scholarly articles is often a stumbling block for many people in the field,‖ he said. ―However, much like the topical articles found in TSBX, practicing young sport professionals can use the 24
JSAS whitepapers to obtain a quick, concise capsule of information that they can incorporate directly into their working world.‖ ―Each article is almost a sport management class in itself,‖ Duboff added. In addition to the benefits of building a practitioner audience for JSAS and utilizing TSBX papers in college classroom instruction, Goss said that another direct benefit of the partnership would be the provision of hotbutton topics directly from practitioners to academics, who could then utilize them for directing and/or refining their research agendas. ―Exposing an academic audience to the thoughts and questions of practitioners will boost the likelihood of more practical, applied research that will help directly sustain the sport industry, particularly in such an uncertain economic climate,‖ Goss said. TSBX papers are peer reviewed by young sports business professionals who share an interest in the research and academia of sport business. For its review process, JSAS utilizes two academic reviewers, who review the academic manuscript, and one practitioner reviewer, who reviews the management whitepaper. Accordingly, while the exact number of articles exchanged will vary, Duboff and Goss said the partnership would likely involve the inclusion of one JSAS whitepaper in each TSBX issue, while each JSAS issue would include as many as three TSBX articles. TSBX is published quarterly, and its next issue is due to be released in early April 2010. JSAS is published annually, and it will release its next issue in mid-April 2010 In addition to serving as the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of TSBX, Duboff is also a collegiate sports media professional in New York, N.Y. Duboff graduated with a B.S. in sport management and B.A. in political science from the University of Massachusetts and is currently pursuing his MBA at City University of New York – Baruch College. Goss, who serves as editor-in-chief for JSAS, is an associate professor in the College of Business Administration at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. Jubenville, who serves as JSAS‘s publisher, is a professor and director of the Center for Sport Policy & Research at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., which houses the journal. To learn more about TSBX, visit www.TheSportsBusinessExchange.com. For more information about TSBX, contact: Joshua Duboff Editor-in-Chief email@example.com
For more information about JSAS, contact: Dr. Benjamin D. Goss Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org 417-836-6592
To learn more about JSAS, visit www.jsasonline.org. Spring 2010
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The Sports Business Exchange is a sports business trade journal for young sports business professionals. All articles are submitted and writ...