The Elusive Fan

The elusive fan is a sports enthusiast in modern times with the who is sought after by various sports industries for his/her interest, financial support and involvement.  The concept of the elusive fan is described in the first chapter of the book with its namesake by provide an initial overview of assortment of entertainment opportunities that are available to sport fans.  One can be overwhelmed by the sport entertainment opportunities that are available but outdoor activities, the arts, traveling and simply staying at home and relaxing from the over-scheduled work week are also substantial competitors for the elusive fans time and resources.

When further describing the elusive fan, the author discusses the expectations that have been established for and expected by the elusive fan.  Premium experiences once reserved for fans with more financial resources are now a commonplace expectation of the average sports fan.  An assortment of beers, food choices and in-game entertainment are all considered standard requirements of a “fun night at the ballpark”.  Additionally, the money spent for a family of four to attend a sporting event with food and beverages, that same family could watch the event at home, with clean, available restrooms, replay, second screen enhancement, the ability to pause to use the free, clean bathroom and discounted cuisine cooked to their own specifications.

Professor Irving Rein was introduced as a co-author and he provided his non-traditional path to studying sports marketing and by extension the elusive fan in detail.  After having been a scholarship football student-athlete at a major college he graduated, pursued high school coaching for a couple of years then went back to school to pursue a degree in communications.  He realized his continued fondness of communication on the emphasis on “persuasion and strategy”.  Professor Rein provides describes the explosion of sporting options has influence the proliferation new sports and enhanced their popularity, giving paint ball as an example.  Eight to ten years later, a more appropriate example would be professional wrestling and mixed martial arts – UFC fighting.  The market place has become very flooded with opportunities to spend time and money, battling for the resources of the elusive fan.

Professor Rein mentioned the professionalizing of high school sports facilities and highlighted the amenities that are now becoming standard for them.  Interestingly enough, the Southlake Carroll example provided by Dr. Rein saw a high school football stadium being built in 2001 for $15 million ($20 in 2016).  I wonder about his response knowing that just 11 years later, Allen, Texas built a high school stadium for $60 million.  Lastly, Dr. Rein discussed the importance of communicating to the elusive fan ensuring that sport entities are addressing their concerns in order to cultivate relationships and gain loyalty.  According to Dr. Rein, the relationship between the sport and its connection to the fans are paramount.  Companies should accept that change is inevitable and develop programs that avoid simple micro-changes and perform a holistic evaluation on how to truly connect to the fan through understanding his/her connection to sports.  Accepting change is the first step in the forging that connection.

 

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FANS, SPORTS & TECHNOLOGY

With continued technological advancements in everyday life, sports and athletic fanatics seem to only benefit from the continuous movement towards the future.  All aspects of sports have improved tremendously from technology.  A torn ACL a few decades ago could easily led to the cessation of many NFL careers, while today’s technology requires just over a year (54 weeks) to return to “NFL” status.  Although production may not be at its highest, careers longevity has been enhanced.

Athlete health hasn’t been the only area of sports to be improved by technology, sports teams are using technology to enrich the experience in stadiums and arenas as well as to dissemination information regarding team data, updates and engagement opportunities.  No longer do fans rely solely upon the game action to entertain them while attending an athletic event, entire departments have been established to enhance the in-game experience, providing continual entertainment for spectators.  From social media contests on huge, HD videoboards to instant replays via cellular devices via companies such as SnappyTV and social media platforms like Facebook live, technology has allowed improved the game watching experience through use of the “Second Screen”.

Not only is information being disseminated to the fans, it is also being collected and used to identify more enhancement opportunities.  Companies like Turnkey and SportsDesk collect information through the digital footprints left behind by fans, analyzes the data and creates suggestions on how to improve fan communication, interaction and engagement.  The advent and popularity of social media has created an analytical avenue into understanding and influencing fan behavior that simply didn’t exist five to seven years ago.

Technology has drawn fans closer to the game, players and the teams they love.  It has placed them front and center in the quest to be in the number 1 position to vie for spectator dollars.  Only the technology can dictate what the future holds for sports and fans.