Saturday, April 25, 2020

Professional Sports Are Missing An Opportunity Amid The Pandemic     by     Ruth Utnage

As a young teen I came to Washington with my Mom where my Grandma was already living her dream: a sweeping view of the mountains, trees, and water. Another major attraction was the Kingdome and the Mariners.

I remember falling in love with the Mariners because I could name the players. I came from Nebraska where the Omaha Royals played in Rosenblatt stadium, but I didn't know anyone's names. The only reason I could name the players of the Mariners was because they were all over the television.

Commercials featuring various skits of the Mariners, their personality shining through. It allowed my Mother, Grandmother and I to have long conversations about each player, why the team was great. We were excited about the game and team pride permeated our home. It wasn't so for other sports teams in Washington and a distinct difference could be seen, the other teams weren't advertising the personality of its players to us. We had nothing to connect to.

Sports are shut down until further notice, team franchise owners are rightfully worried about filling the stands once more and the future of their league's financial endurance, and they should be. History is being made right now and nobody knows how social distancing is going to be used once this is over. Our culture and willingness to gather collectively for events is being impacted in an unprecedented and unpredictable way. So what's the missed opportunity?

While we have no sports to watch except sports stars playing video games now is the time to showcase who your team is. Who's on it, what's their personalities, who's quirky and relatable, what's the lineup? Generate some excitement for your teams return by allowing the average Joe in. Tell us who the players are. Run ads for your team, just to keep us abreast of who's on them.

If passed every Seahawk I would only recognize one, Russell Wilson. He's the only one who's consistently been on television and thus when the Seahawks play again he's the only one I can identify and associate with a face and some resemblance of personality. Without that face, I have no reason to get excited about the Seahawks return to television, helmets and obscure press conferences block my ability to relate to any of them.

Spend some cash on ad spots, make them corny and advertising only the team, make them clever, make them heartfelt, do all three. Canvas us with reminders that people are under those jerseys.

You might just return with the largest following in United States history picking up interest where it wasn't before.

Here's a hint, when Danica Patrick left NASCAR, so did I. She was the only athlete I could relate too...


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