Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where tanking games at the end of the football season – especially when you’re 14-0 – is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
By now, the “prediction for 2010” buzz has pretty much faded, which means it’s the perfect time for me to join the fray and suggest some things I think will dominate the year ahead. Enjoy.
--Teams on Twitter
You might think that this is obvious and has no place in a prediction post. After all, there surely are teams that have done a good job of activating Twitter, Facebook and other sites to engage their fan bases. But if it’s so obvious, then why hasn’t everyone adopted these practices? It seems to me that a definite majority of teams are still trying to figure it all out – all the way from defining how their athletes use the tools to hiring staff devoted solely to the effort. This will change in 2010…I think this is the year when the tides turn and sports organizations and leagues everywhere really embrace social media.
Already, we’ve started to see individual athletes taking matters into their own hands when it comes to news announcements, spreading the word themselves through social media tools instead of feeding reporters and the news machine at large. As the landscape of media continues to change, and reporters are more taxed and the news hole continues to shrink, I think athletes will do more and more of this in 2010 so that they guarantee themselves their share of ink and buzz and manage and motivate their individual fan bases. In a world where star power adds dollars to contracts and leads to endorsement deals, and athletes are looking out for “number one” more and more, this makes incredible sense. Plus, let’s admit it, athletes have huge egos. Spreading the word themselves allows them to control the message and hoard the attention…really, it’s PR 101. Think of it this way, and it’s a wonder this hasn’t been done more already.
--ESPN Will Dominate. Even More.
You’ve heard about ESPN Boston and Los Angeles. There’s a simple model at play here: leverage the Worldwide Leader’s brand and existing/growing resources and infrastructure to provide sports content on the local level. As papers and TV stations continue to tighten their belts, sports coverage already has suffered to some extent. So enter ESPN, with a growing brand and more money to spend than the local guys. If they can come in and cover the teams well, and maybe even syndicate content to the local media, they might just have a winner. Meanwhile, visitors to the ESPN sites benefit from all the other content on there too – it’s an infrastructure much more built out than any newspaper site I’ve seen. I expect to see ESPN New York, ESPN San Francisco, ESPN Atlanta and others sooner than later.
--Team Naming Rights
We saw a couple of WNBA teams sell their jersey space, and essentially their nicknames, to corporate sponsors in 2009. Soccer teams around the world (and NASCAR) have done this for years…might a major American brand make a move into a major American sport in 2010? It wouldn’t shock me.
What am I missing?
Have a terrific New Year. I’m out like the New England Patriots.