Fanatics are Alive and Well in the NBA
I feel that a lot of my friends who don’t watch the NBA like to give it a lot of flack. The common misconceptions that I hear range from “They don’t play defense in the regular season” to “The fans are boring” to “They are just all in it for the money.” Well as a basketball coach for the past 7 years, and someone who played the game my whole life, when I watch those guys in the regular season 90% of them are playing defense. Everyone is just that good.
And yes, they aren’t playing for free. I don’t know many people who don’t want to make any money whatsoever if they are working 75 hour weeks for 9 months and traveling all over the country. As for the fan argument? That it’s not like college or high school, with the little arena that makes you sweat just sitting there? I give you the Indiana Pacers! And I will explain my experience at the Pacers Heat game a few weeks back and what it means for sports business and an opportunity for sports marketing partnerships. Also on a quick sidenote for the game the Pacers controlled it from start to finish and the Heat player who played the best beyond LBJ was none other than the Birdy Birdy Man Chris Andersen!
The Game, the Arena, the Atmosphere
We all know that people in Indiana love basketball. But as the picture to the right shows, and the one at the top of the article featuring Dwyane Wade in a pink bra and LeBron James with a binky aka pacifier in his mouth, Pacers fans are nuts! They had two seperate “student sections” with about 150 seats in each of them with fans that dressed up, stood, and SCREAMED for the Pacers against the Heat from 20 minutes before tip until the final horn sounded.
The were clever chants too, with fans dressed up like Mario and Luigi, and one of the sections also featured a 20 person drum line pep band that blasted noise throughout the night. As for the arena, I had been there before so I knew what to expect. It sits down on the court. Meaning – think of it a funnel of noise just shooting down on top of the court. It also makes for great views anywhere in the arena, but more importantly it makes for a home court advantage that you don’t see very much in professional sports anymore.
The team itself? Those guys seem to have a genuine love for playing in front of their fans. Paul George, Psycho T, David West, George Hill, all of them were engaged and pumped up before the game. We all know Psycho T is always up for a good time as the below picture from his college days rekindle our memory. But all of them acted like high school kids playing in the state tourney. Roy Hibbert was high fiving the courtside seats before and after the quarters and they have almost an extra level of talent and energy when they play in front of the fans. Overall, the Heat struggle playing there and the more I have been there the more I think the Pacers will be a tough team once again in the playoffs; even without their best player Danny Granger missing most of the year.
Why This Relates to Sports Marketing and Business?
There is nothing better than having “fanatics” as your support base for a business. They are loyal, they believe in you, and they will spread your message. On the flip side that is because you are offering them something of significant value that they can’t find anywhere else, which the Pacers seem to be doing for their fans. But “fanatics” are unbelievable, special, and hard to find in business.
There are tons of “fanatics” that listen to the radio station I work at – they scare me if I mention I didn’t take the day off to watch Ohio State’s National Signing Day program – but they are great for my clients! If you reach such a high level of commitment to your business as the Pacers fans seem to have with their team… then everyone wins. The team plays better because they feel loved. The fans come back and spread the word because you are doing a dynamite job in what you offer.
And the Most Important Thing of all…
The clients love it because their customers are engaged, interested, and hyped up to support the sponsors that go with the team and the atmosphere. One of my clients also has a ton of locations in Indy and she sponsors a time out segment during the game and she said they get leads every single week from people who reached out to them because they saw them sponsoring that at the Pacers game.
- If you create Fanatics…you will create revenue…you will make the world more fun…you will make everyone a little happier.
- And isn’t that was business is all about? (Don’t tell Wall Street that it’s not about shareholders.)
- Business is all about making a profit but making it in a way that makes the world a better place I believe.
- The Indiana Pacers are doing that, one wild game at a time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse!
- What did this have to do with business? Everything!
Thanks for reading everyone! If you have been to a game there recently or a different arena with a great atmosphere leave your comments below! Or tweet us @Sportsnetworker
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