The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – We dont need no stinking smartphones !

With the season starting tomorrow, I wanted to update a blog post I did in 2010. In just the past 18 months the number of proposals for in-game entertainment have skyrocketed. It seems like every day I get a new proposal to invest in a company that is going to revolutionize the experience of going to a sporting event. Without fail the proposal starts out with some form of “with the explosion in sales of smartphones…” Then I get the meat of the pitch which is some derivative of stats, pictures, fantasy games, social sharing via FB/Twitter or some new network to replace FB/Twitter.

No thank you. Not for the Dallas Mavericks.

In order to understand why I hate these proposals you have to understand first what the Mavs sell, which is not basketball, the expectation of our consumers the available downtime at a Mavs or any NBA game.

Think back to the first professional sporting event you ever went to. It was probably a parent taking you to the game. What do you remember ? Do you remember the score ? A home run ? A jump shot ? A pass play ? Or do you remember who you were with ? I remember being with my dad at a Pirates game. My dad and my uncle at a Steelers game. Think about your fondest memories at a sporting event. Again, what do you remember ? Hanging with your buddies ? A first date ? A last date ? How you felt after the team won or loss ? A business partner or customer ? Or the score ? I’m guessing its not the score.

We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun. We are in the business of letting you escape. We are in the business of giving you a chance to create shared experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

You know the wedding I’m talking about. The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling , cheering, laughing. The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is trying to do the Dougie. The one where although you have no earthly idea what the Dougie is, you can’t say no to your 12 year old niece. The one where the whole place does the Macarena while laughing so hard they are crying. The one where everyone sings out loud to every song and you hug the cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years and hope you don’t see for another 10. It doesn’t matter if half the room doesn’t believe the couple will still be married at the end of the year. It matters if everyone in the place is having a great time. It matters if its the type of wedding that everyone in the room wished or wishes their wedding was or will be like this one. It matters that you leave the reception and your hands hurt from clapping , your mouth hurts from smiling so much and your throat is sore because you were laughing , singing and hollering so much. That’s a great wedding.

That’s how I want a Mavs game to be.

I want it to be very participatory. I want it to be very social. I want it to be very inclusive. I want it to be memorable. I want it to be so much fun people talk about it to their friends and can’t wait to go back. I want every parent to get tears in their eyes when they see their kids jumping up and down whether the score is 2 to 0. or 120 to 84. When they are chanting Lets Go Mavs . When they are dancing and trying to get on the jumbotron.

I want the guy on the date knowing that the longest he will have to talk is during halftime and then after the game, and until the next date, he can talk about the game itself and not have all the pressure of trying to think of something to say while his date can be relieved that she can enjoy the game without him talking. Or vice versa of course. I want everyone coming to a Mavs game to be able to find their own personal attachment to that night. I know I can’t control what happens on the court every game, but I can do my very best to make sure that no matter what the score, we have done all we can to make the fan experience like a great wedding.

IMHO, that means eliminating as many of the “look down” moments in the game as I possibly can. Once you sit in your seat, the only time I want you to look down is to pick up the soda or beer you set down under your seat and maybe to check your phone to see if you got a text from the sitter or your buddy about where to meet after the game.

I want you always looking up. Looking at the game and the entertainment in the arena. You can’t cheer if you aren’t watching. It’s my job to give you something other than the game to look up at.

It may be looking at the fun videos we put on the big screen to entertain you.

We are going to try everything and anything we can think of to make it fun and memorable. Just as a DJ responds to the energy and attitude at a Wedding in realtime and tries to choose the right song or activity to keep the fun and energy up, we try to do the same thing at a Mavs game. We recognize that what makes our games unique is that like a wedding, Grandma Ethel can be sitting next to a goth looking 16 year old she has never met before, and if both are watching when the Mavs hit a shot right as the 24 second buzzer sounds, they can high 5 each other like they are best friends. That if Grandma Ethel is chanting defense and being a key 6th man for her Mavs, the 16 year old will feel better about cupping his black nailed hands together to do the same. That if we put a fun video up on the big screen, they both might just sing along

Video and music are two simple components of what we do. We are developing games that our fans can participate in at the arena that hopefully engage them with what is happening on the court. We are coming up with ways to reward our fans for being our “6th man” and adding energy to the arena. (I will save those for another post). We are looking for ways to enhance the emotional attachments created at our game.

 I can’t think of a bigger mistake then trying to integrate smartphones just because you can. The last thing I want is someone looking down at their phone to see a replay. The last thing I want is someone thinking that its a good idea to disconnect from the unique elements of a game to look at replays or update their fantasy standings or concentrate on trying to predict what will happen next in the game. There is a huge value to everyone collectively holding their breath during a replay, or responding to a great play or a missed call and then spontaneously reacting to what they see. You lose that if people are looking down at their handhelds.  The fan experience is about looking up, not looking down. If you let them look down, they might as well stay at home, the screen is always going to be better there.

Thats not to say that smartphones don’t have a place in other sports. THere is enough downtime in baseball and football games that it helps to offer time wasters.  During huddles and change of possessions, I can see a reason to offer look down entertainment. The same between innings, maybe even between batters. The NBA doesn’t have those time sucks.

As in every business you have to always ask yourself what your product is and the best way to deliver it. In the NBA our product is fun and energy. The last thing we need to do is encourage our customers to stare at their phones

63 thoughts on “The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – We dont need no stinking smartphones !

  1. also- how lame. give me something else to look at other than the cirque du soleil guy and the kid who lip syncs katy perry. honestly! this isn’t 100 years ago and i need to put up with the indignity of my guy ogling younger women. think out of the box (npi)

    Comment by bimbointheburbs -

  2. so- why not look at what people look at during the down time and on the jumbo tron and on tv- consider this. i go to a mavs game with my boyfriend, and i watch the nubile young 20 something year old cheerleaders and reel my boyfriend’s tongue back into his face at the end of the cheerleading routine. i’m pissed off because i am older and not as “lifted.” but, i’m also grounded in reality because that’s the way of the world. i’m no longer mav cheerleader body or face. so, i’m not going to say anything about this. THIS CREATES UNBALANCE. if you want the mavs game to be a great wedding- don’t have just hot bridesmaids a hot bride. give the dates and the women something to look at- get some hot groomsmen and a hot groom. not just that german guy dirk dancing on the jumbo tron. get me some male cheerleaders. level the playing field. make an activity and some competition within the competition and in addition to whether i have a mavs jersey on or if i root for the visiting team. make me have ownership in the experience as a girl. then, i won’t give a #$%^ how much my boyfriend is talking to me during the game breaks. i’ll be checking out the eye candy and i’ll be empowered when my boyfriend says the ubiquitous game rejoinder- “wow, she’s hot!” i can say- “but check out that six pack!”

    Comment by bimbointheburbs -

  3. When you try to “steer” any customer away from something they obviously *want* to do, you are not serving their interests but projecting your own interests on them. People use their cell phones everywhere…yes, even in dangerous situations. There must be a strong pull there. Instead of fighting it, how can it be leveraged to draw fans deeper into the experience *they* want. Too much of TV broadcasting and this “Fan Experience” thinking is about a rigid story line and overly formulaic. Give customers choices and options. Recently, my company came up with the idea of using our tech to enable “twitterstration”…that is the ability of a fan to pause the game on their phone (or tablet or TV), telestrate, comment, etc. on the screenshot (just like a tv commentator) and attach it to a tweet. See http://metasports.tv/pages/home.html. Now, I have no idea if it will catch on, but we know twitter activity is highly correlated to events in live sports, so it follows people might want to do more of this, sharing their experience watching the game with friends, making the experience deeper for them. Instead of fighting it, why not go with it and see where it leads?

    Comment by metasportstv -

  4. Mark,
    I very much appreciate your perspective that you are selling the whole experience to your fans. The fans in the building are a COMMUNITY, united for a common purpose, and I think you are wise to keep their attention on the things that they share (whether basketball or otherwise) rather than on the world outside of the building (to which they are connected with their phones.) My question for you is: can this type of community experience be recreated in much smaller increments? Can we feel a similar connection to those around us at other recreational gatherings, not just at professional sporting events? I think so, and the goal of my company is to provide it.
    – Eric, founder, CommonSlate.com

    Comment by commonslate -

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  8. Mark… you are wrong, dead wrong. The reason people love sports is because:

    a. it’s a cheap and painless way for people to create an intense “collective experience” (i.e. tribal)
    b. the uncertainty of sports causes emotional intensity (i.e. primal)

    The later is wholly dependent of what happens on the court/field. Basketball does a great job in creating suspenseful drama and thus, opportunities for people to feel intense emotion. Kudos to you and the other owners for structuring the league so that there is relative parity.

    It’s the former point where we have our differences. Your objective during breaks in the game play SHOULD be to feed into the competing group dynamics. While cheerleaders may distract the fans (most anyway) until the action restarts, in does NOTHING to feed the tribal tensions between supporters of opposing teams.

    American football with its back and forth chants is precisely the type of activity that you should be promoting. Sports is not *simply* entertainment (most common misunderstanding today) but rather, sports is a special moment in time where people can join in the “collective consciousness” surrounding an event. It’s this feeling of being part of a group that makes sports special.

    Now… concerning the use of smart-phones by spectators in-stadium, there is an amazing opportunity to, for the first time in sports history, to increase the “emotion of the crowd” (think: wisdom of the crowd) by creating a back-channel platform where in-stadium fans can directly interact with fans who may be at home in their living room watching the game with a tablet on the lap or at a local sports bar with their smart phone. Right now you are limited to seats in the arena that you can influence. With a second screen, you’ll have direct access to every single person in the world watching your team play basketball. You choose which you want.

    I am a bit dumbfounded that someone, like yourself, who so often thinks outside the box is so flat-footed on this new opportunity. Mark… the smart phone and tablet are a “second screen” that YOU (and the Mavericks) can use as a tool to increase the emotional intensity of the crowd (on-site and remote). Forget PiP and text on the screen. The “primary screen” whether live in-stadium or on a 50″ HD TV is for the broadcast itself.

    I guarentee you that in 10 years we’ll look back to todays sporting events and think, “Wow… it’s like we were watching sports naked. No second screen. How quaint.” There’s little risk for you to make your wrong-headed conclusions because some other team will do it correctly and then you’ll add it yourself.

    The opportunity you are missing is the birth of a whole new industry…. second screens. Museums, theatres, National Parks, sporting events, art shows, musical concerts, and on and on. So, perhaps you just haven’t met the right team but I can guarantee you that when you come to Sochi in 2014 for the Winter Games, you’ll download our app, @Podium2014, and think to yourself… shit, this is actually pretty cool and let’s me share my experience here in southern Russia with my buddies back home in real-time. What more could we ask for in a sporting event then to share it with our buddies, whether they be sitting next to us or someone in front of a TV with a smart phone in their hands?

    Comment by Timothy Post -

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  10. Of course one might argue, with big screens everywhere, elaborate half time entertainment, t.v. time outs, seats often seemingly miles away from the area of the game and amusement type theme parks surrounding the parks and arenas, technology has already “taken away” from the game.
    As Mark noted, the atmosphere he is selling is not about the game itself. Not allowing cell phone use as a means to monitor a game is about technology and atmosphere control and has nothing to do with the quality of the product on the court. Except as no one has seem to have brought up, if the Mavericks are not winning games, this atmosphere may become less profitable because fans won’t show up and it won’t matter how much you try to control technology and thus, “the atmosphere” at games.
    Again, fortunately or unfortunately this discussion centers on controlling the atmosphere at the game, not the game itself.

    Comment by suttonsbaydoug -

  11. Hi Mark.

    Speaking of selling you ideas to invest in, this is NOT a sales pitch but I swear I know a bball move that will REVOLUTIONIZE the NBA. Practically “UN-DEFENDABLE”. Let me know if you would like to know more about it.

    Comment by zfadel -

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  14. Looking back on my first MLB game, I remember my cousin taking me. Also remember Gary Carter creaming that inside fastball over the LF wall. But things are different today. I took my son to the NJ-Ottawa game last night and it was his 7th game of the year. He’s not going to remember who took him to what after the 1st game. Smartphones could be used as an interactive tool. Give smartphone users access to different camera angles to watch replays. This would have been handy last night with that really big fat guy in front of us…

    Comment by chalky17 -

  15. This is great news.

    I’m a massive fan of technology, but over the last year I’ve seen this trend towards technology central experience vs the technological enhanced experience.

    I’m excited to see that you’re wanting fans to engage in the actively experience the game in the moment. Not passive through a personal device.

    Comment by Braydon Zirkler -

  16. I was wrong about the Mavs and the blogger (sporq) who said the Mavs are waiting for next year. I did not realize that the Mavs lost three key players from last year’s team. wow.

    It is kind of sad to see ballplayers not want to defend their own championship, but I can understand wanting the security of a multi year deal as well. I guess it was a tough situation for both sides.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  17. How about turning this into a way to hire a few more people. Have some hosts and hostesses roam the arena with smart phones and people can be photographed at the game courtesy of the hosts and hostesses.

    The hosts and hostesses take a few quick snaps then hand the flash card over for a small fee. Fans don’t have to deal with smart phones but they can still send out fun shots to their friends, and they actually get to BE IN THE PICTURE as well.

    Comment by alexlogic -

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  20. Last night was the home opener for the Detroit Pistons. Before the game, a memorial tribute of Bill Davidson (Piston’s owner) was recapped by showing ONE SHOT of a group of fans ALL LOOKING IN THE SAME DIRECTION, towards the big video screen at center court.

    Can you even imagine if these fans were looking down at their smart phones instead of up and off into the distance?

    Comment by alexlogic -

  21. Here’s the contrarian view: You’ve got it all wrong. We’re increasingly a “divided attention” society. It has it’s own momentum. No matter what you do to “entertain” your fans/customers they’re going to be on their smart phones tweeting, texting, checking in, taking pictures and for the serious NBA fans checking up on stats. So why not take advantage of that? Why not have your own Mav’s App that frames part of this “look away” behavior? It doesn’t have to cheapen the experience, you can make it feature rich, in depth and in game interactive -eg vote for your favorite play of the quarter – or how about this – during halftime have a 30 second phone app basketball game – whoever scores the most baskets in the app gets a jersey. That’s brand engagement. Rethink the smart phone.

    Comment by ravisol -

  22. Right on Mark. My first game was Yankee Stadium Bat day – my memory – when we all held our bats up. I have no idea if the yankee lost or won, but I enjoyed myself and my fellow cub scouts. Kudos to you. And living in Los Angeles, Kudos to the Angels who have grasped that same mentality with the “Rally Monkey” and even those of us not Angels fans attending enjoy the craziness they create when that monkey i s on the Jumbotron dancing or when they use movie clips and integrate the monkey into it. Fun time, more importantly family times. Keep up the good work with the Mavs!
    Frank

    Comment by Frank Albano -

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  26. Great post Mark. The “Social” disconnect is pervasive at all live performance events – try attending any type of live music event. The experience you take away is certainly not the acoustic quality or the visual appearance captured on your cell phone camera. Do you need someone to “like” your picture/tweet/post to know if you had a good time?

    Prediction for 2012 – Social becomes a dirty word.

    Comment by lecremerie -

  27. If I post a picture or video of myself and my friends to Facebook or Twitter having a great time at a Mavs game – enjoying a few brews, talking to the hotties sitting nearby, or the old guy with the goofy hat – how is this a bad thing for you?

    All of my followers are essentially receiving post cards in real-time that say “Wish you were here. Mavs games are a blast.”

    And you’re paying nothing to get all these small, little ads out there. While I’ve paid for my ticket and my data plan to get this message to the people I care about who are also your potential customers.

    Multiply that by the thousands each and every game and what you’ve got is digital age word-of-mouth on a massive scale.

    It’s foolish to want to stop this. You should know better.

    You should be looking for the best ways to take advantage of it and turn it into cash.

    Best picture post on Twitter receives tickets for two to next weeks Mavs game! Best Facebook video gets a dinner for two at P.F. Changs!

    Show the best pictures or funniest videos on the big screen.

    Your wedding analogy is nice, but your whole post basically boils down to this: “Hang up! Watch the damn game!”

    Don’t be the old geezer who was so busy flashing a “Hang up and drive!” sign at passing motorists that he distracted himself and crashed his own car.

    Comment by sudojudo -

  28. Omg what a typo! Sorry, mr Cuban :D

    Comment by Sami Kuusela -

  29. I almost totally agree with Mr. Cubain here. We do not usually need extra personal screens when we’re attending sporting events. The atmosphere is already there.

    BUT: what about the audience that is NOT attending the event? The global mass of sports fans who love the game, but might be watching the match alone and would love to be boosted emotionally and connected to other great fans? Wouldn’t we like to give them some applications to help them to get most out of the match experience?

    And while we’re doing that, why wouldn’t we love to connect the global audience to people at the match? Why don’t we show the crowd attending the event that the world is watching too (showing photos of fans around the globe on the screens etc.).

    There is big opportunities in creating that “wedding experience” to ALL the people following a sports event. And that has been our goal with Sofanatics.com (virtual stadium for sports fans) for few years now (focusing mainly on soccer so far). Beware, we’ll be soon landing to US too!

    It’s not in-game entertainment, it’s match-time entertainment.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Comment by Sami Kuusela -

  30. Brilliant- you’ve now convinced me to go to a Mavs home game (and I’m an L.A. native).

    It’s great watching the SM gurus freak out over this post though. Seriously guys, how much is enough?

    Comment by chrisyoura -

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  32. Mark,

    Always enjoy reading your thoughts on here. The irony here for me is that SI writer Sam Amick pointed this post out to me yesterday at the Kings/Lakers game, as he knows I am working on something that will be ready shortly; a technology to enhance the in game experience for teams/fans. While I don’t know what has been pitched to you in the past, I think my idea has some true value for reasons not discussed in your post.

    While I agree in theory with your premise above, I also think that most sports teams and TV networks for that matter are currently going the WRONG direction with social media and those type technologies. No economics of any idea can be compelling when your concept is built on a network you do not own or control, i.e. FB or Twitter. One can’t monetize their content on those networks, yet the networks monetize (ads) off the content people put on them. Fascintating to me.

    I think I have something that enhances the fan experience, builds brand equity and allows your corporate partners to engage with your fans BETTER then any current system, signage or video in place, IMHO of course.

    As someone with an idea and looking for valuable feedback from someone like yourself, I would love to fly to Dallas and be allowed the opportunity to show you how smartphones do have a place of great FUN and VALUE during the “in game experience” at every Mavs game!

    Lastly, I remember my prof at UW who once told me he wrote a piece in the late 70’s about how microwaves would never catch on because people loved to cook so much and there wasn’t really a market for them or food made for microwaves.

    Sincerely,
    Matt Graham
    @mattgraham7
    mgraham34 at sbcglobal.net

    Comment by sportsguythoughts -

  33. You are right on the money about this one Marc. I remember my Dad taking me to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball games and the first time I took him to an IU basketball game. It is all about the “event” and being there for those special moments. My Dad is now gone but the memories will be with me forever.

    Bill

    Comment by abpreston -

  34. Mark,

    This is quite probably the best article I’ve read from you.

    Having been a disc jockey for 18 years (1980-1998), while performing at over one thousand weddings, you are right on the money with regard to increasing the “present, looking-up” entertainment value at your events.

    Keep up the great work!

    Randall Parker, MBA
    CFO/Vice President
    LNG Network, Inc.
    http://lngnetwork.com

    Comment by Randall Parker, MBA -

  35. Mark,

    How about this: in baseball the managers wear the team uniform, why not put Coach Carlisle in a jersey, shorts, high socks, and a headband for a few homes games, that would definitely give the fans something to remember.

    Comment by postman5 -

  36. Totally agree. I go to events to feel the energy, be around other people. My wife and I just went to see Sherlock Holmes today in a movie theater. Part of the experience is the other people around us. There is something insidious in people glued to their phones instead of taking part in what is going on around them.

    Comment by Mike Martel -

  37. This is exactly what is wrong with modern big time sports game day attendance: the demotion of the game below the “experience”

    Comment by blukens -

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  39. My fist pro game was the New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl. As a kid I was really into pennants and my Dad bought me a Saints pennant. It’s the swag that I remember.

    Don’t the Mavs already use smartphones when they tell the crowd to text to win prizes?

    When I think of the Mavs experience, the first thing I think of IS fun. And I have enjoyed more than a few rowdy, loud games. But the second thing I think of is how cramped I will be sitting in those 300 level seats.

    The last time I complained about AA Center seating I think Mark commented that I should work on making more money to afford better seats. Since Mark is a genius at business and making money I can’t argue with him.

    Congratulations to the owner and Mavs players on the winning the title last year. A job well done.

    Comment by swaghound -

  40. The point is, looking down at one’s lap during a public sporting event looks like the fan is bored, or interested in something else. Fans looking into the distance, at something, be it the huge video screen, the scoreboard, or the game and its participants, makes for a successful event.

    Fans looking down at their laps and into their smart phones, not so much.

    Mr. Cuban might just have to raise ticket prices high enough to where the fans want to soak up every minute of their experience and not even think about a smart phone.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  41. Mark – If you really believe mobile technologies do not offer your organization ways to extend and enhance the social and emotional experiences between fans, players, and your brand during games then you simply aren’t talking to the right people. A whole new generation of fans not only embrace and remember the experiences you create WITH them, they will increasingly expect you to provide those technology-enabled experieces because these devices are as much a part of holding hands as you did with your uncle or your date when you attended sporting events. There are awesome and appropriate ways to do this, and it if your do it right then the experiences will have them “looking up” during the game, and “looking forward” to being “part of the family” at the next game too. Here’s an example Wirestone did to bring Jordan fans closer together: imagine being able to look up and see your own contribution to this mosaic (which happens before the event) shared above center court: http://www.jumpman23mosaic.com — and talked about long after the event concludes. This is how the game is played my friend. Don’t be a technology hater, be a lame experience hater.

    Comment by neilmichel -

    • What happens before an event can be anything. It just can’t be participatory before. I have looked at mosaic sw before. Economics weren’t very compelling

      Comment by markcuban -

  42. “Thats not to say that smartphones don’t have a place in other sports. THere is enough downtime in baseball and football games that it helps to offer time wasters.”

    There is no downtime in professional basketball? What about the first three and a half quarters? What about the foul-freethrow-three process that happens at the end of too many close games?

    Comment by bradmurray -

  43. good for us.

    Comment by wpolkaew -

  44. Love this post. However for me the #1 negative at an NBA game is one of the things you mention positively–the noise effects (often a partner with the videos). The crowd can interact together in concert with the action and generate momentum, cheer, begin chants, all on their own, if they would only be allowed, but too often I’ve experienced the crowd interrupted or deadened by absurdly loud, kind of mindless, cartoony sound effects, during nearly every possession. We’re smarter than that, let us do it ourselves. It is even more silly before the games–I understand there’s going to be music but some of the arenas you can’t sit in them and watch warmups because you can’t talk to your friends without screaming in their face.

    Comment by thebigadawg -

  45. You’re right, up to the point where you’re wrong: “Being There” in general, and being physically present for a social event, doesn’t mean the same thing to the coming generation as it does to those of us who are older. Your “Great Wedding” may strike a generation raised on Twitter, with smartphones from the time they learn to read, as *quaint*.

    You don’t know what a technology is going to do in terms of changing society until you see how it is used by those for whom it has always just “been there”.

    Comment by daverickey -

    • You can keep on trying to convince yourself of that. Trust me technology is more integrated into my life than yours. I was
      tweeting blogging whatever early. But that doesn’t change the value of the experience. Behind the scenes we use every bit of tech available. Anything that comes along that makes the games more fun we will use it.

      And the wedding analogy still holds. That is why people love to put their weddings up on YouTube

      Comment by markcuban -

  46. Mark,

    I’m looking forward to you “selling fun” against the picturesque backdrop of Blue Sky’s, Palm Trees and the sunset glow of the San Gabriel Mountains, otherwise known as, Chavez Ravine. Go Blue!!!!

    Wishing you a peaceful Holiday Season and a prosperous 2012

    Marshal Hilton

    Comment by marshalhilton -

  47. suffonsbaydoug, If I can surmise the entire point Mark is making, the fans should be looking up at the huge screen TV to see the replay, not down in their laps. The unity of the fans watching the same replay moment, at the same moment in time via the big screen is much more intimate than everyone looking down at their own smart phone.
    ————————

    My one concern in general with professional basketball games is that it may be too loud too often if there are too many recordings being blasted through the loudspeakers whenever the fans quiet down. It can become numbing if there are no breaks in the loudness. I’m not saying that goes on at all basketball games, but continuous loud sound is something that has to be addressed as well as that can take away from having a few moments with those we actually went to the game with.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  48. Mark,
    I love your point, you are selling an experience and by focusing in on the specifics that make up these experiences you can do your best to ensure that the positive experience being taken away from the game will be what patrons remember, not the actual game itself. I am sure this is probably basic psychological marketing 101, but you put it quite well.
    You also write quite well, but my writing teacher would tell you, you really made your points in the first two or three paragraphs and these same points started to become redundant after that. You said what you had to say, you just needed to know when to leave. Something I have to continue monitoring with my own writing.
    And finally, it has been some time since I have been to a professional sporting event. In fact the last time might have been watching Magic and the Lakers take on Golden State in Oakland in 1988 (yes its been a while). Our seats were so far away from the court you could barely make out Magic or Kareem. From everything I have heard new stadiums through the years have become more visually friendly, including for the “cheap seats”. But to be honest, short of feeling I was truly part of the Maverick experience no matter where I sat in the arena and could actually see the game, I would certainly look at any type of monitor or smart phone app that might help me “experience” the game better. I have never been to Maverick Arena (I’m sure its not called that), but if you had ever sat in a seat at the old Tiger stadium in Detroit and tried to watch a game from behind a support pillar for the upper deck, you would know what I mean.
    I also have to point out, that some of us do go for the game itself because we love the sport and making it into a huge carnival atmosphere with rides and all the frills, for a purist (I know we’re in the minority), has taken away from the experience of the game itself and also like so many other things, has widdled away at the game itself. Like how long before they stop a pitcher with a 3-2 count on batter for a t.v. advertisement break…. The game itself has become more and more managed by t.v., big personalities, big business etc. often at, the expense of the game itself…
    Years ago when Ryan Sandberg was offered 7 million dollars to play second base for the Cubs one year, he said no, that is too much money to be paying a baseball player…. Heard anyone say that lately? (besides the owners?)
    Good topic, thanks for posting.

    Comment by suttonsbaydoug -

  49. Great point Mark. You hit the nail right on the head and described your vision in very passionate and convincing way. You just convinced me to add “see Dallas Mavericks Home Game” of my list of things to do in 2012. Somehow I’ll make my way down there. I’ll be sure to let you know how it went.

    Comment by phild0210 -

  50. Tart, nice story, yet mail would have been just as authentic, in some ways maybe more.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  51. The following quote “Outside of the Odom acquisition, it seems the Mavs are looking to the 12-13 season” reminds me why Mark appears to dislike sports blog articles and bloggers.

    The gall in trivializing a sports team that just won a championship by proclaiming that the Mavericks “only” picked up Lamar Odom, (whom I think won the sixth man award), so therefore they are really waiting for the next season before getting serious again would be enough of a reason to not care what any sports blogger has to say.

    Comment by alexlogic -

  52. Well Mark, we’ve come a long way since the days of going to the 8.0 in the Quadrangle after a Mavs game, standing outside around that fountain talking about a great win or missed throw … Or, for me, meeting a blind date at the Beau Nash before a game or running into THAT guy I saw at the game over at Highland Park Yacht Club on Travis later.

    The way we communicate has changed & now allows us to create “moments” in new ways. I for one don’t see smartphones as all that bad. Let me share a story …

    Several years ago my mother became ill & needed to move into an assisted living facility hundreds of miles away from me. As soon as she settled in we got her a flip phone & then soon after gave her an iPhone. Naturally that iPhone mortified her … but as soon as she realized that every time she heard a “ping” there was a text message with a photo she became intrigued.

    Smartphone communications allowed me to share my life with her … “moments”. Moments from all kinds of venues: sports, museums, friend’s homes & pet pics. Sadly she died this fall. But what I have are some classic moments with her which makes where I was so much more memorable. We felt connected in an unusual way.

    I can’t speak to what has been proposed to you. But don’t discount the moment someone at a Mavs game take’s a pic of the winning throw & Tweets/txts it to: their dad in a hospital, husband whose working late at the office, friend in rehab recovering from a surgery or the parents of the kid sitting next to you who is at their FIRST Mavs game & is completely in awe!

    Smartphones along with social media, at their best, have given me some of the most wonderful moments with my mother who is now gone. Every time my iPhone “pings” … well you know what I mean. <3

    So next time your at Taco Diner, taking that last sip of coffee before you get your morning going, think about all those proposals … Is there one that might be worth something? A “moment” for somebody somewhere … “ping”

    Comment by The Tart -

  53. “The fan experience is about looking up, not looking down.”

    Shouldn’t the fan experience be all about looking at the action on the court?

    I understand Mark’s point. As an owner he has only so much control over the on-court product, and complete control over the ‘fan experience’, but I think there is a real danger in putting such emphasis on ‘look up’ entertainment.

    But aren’t the Mavericks over this sort of thing now?

    By that I mean the idea of “experience over all” seems better suited for teams that are on the lower end of the talent/money level. With the 2 Finals appearances and the title, am I wrong for thinking that games at the AAC don’t have to be like a Mexican variety show?

    But maybe I’m looking at this all wrong.

    Outside of the Odom acquisition, it seems the Mavs are looking to the 12-13 season. So, it makes sense to distract folks with funny videos and fat guys dancing. In a shortened season, that should be enough to deflect any real attention if the team starts slipping.

    Comment by thesporq -

  54. Who stuck the word “out” in the middle of my prior comment?

    Comment by alexlogic -

  55. Oh, that’s just great, next you’ll be saying we shouldn’t be looking down at out our smart phones when we are driving, or when we’re taking a test, or when eating, or when we need a pep talk.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .(this comment meant as a joke).

    Comment by alexlogic -

  56. Hey Mark your the greatistI’m 69 and have been following sports all my life and I must say you are GREAT for sports and I hope you get a baseball team in the near future and maybe a NFL team. Thanks Mark for being Mark.
    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
    Jim

    Comment by texasshriner -

  57. This is KILLER ADVICE!!! Thank you Mark. Great Blog post. If I owned or controlled any publication or media outlet I would BEG you to write/do stories for it.

    Best,

    Greg

    Comment by @GregCalloway -

  58. You are 100% correct in terms of memories at games. My fondest memory was in the early 1970’s, being 8 or so at a smoked filled Madison Square Garden for a Knicks-Sixers matchup. It was a timeout and a couple friends and I ran down to the Sixers bench where a security guard stopped us. I snuck between his legs and ran onto the court. As my punishment, some official gave me a basketball and shooed me back into the stands. (btw, that basketball got used everyday til it was bald, not enshrined in a sterile case)

    I don’t think you want to hear my commentary about the state of today’s NBA and the loud sucking sound of hard earned money out of suckers, er I mean fans, pockets to attend a game.

    Happy erev xmas!

    Comment by Bad Bad Leroy Brown -

  59. Great post. When I am at a MAVS game I am always entertained. I like it better than a Cowboys game because it is more intimate and does include more fan interaction.

    2010-11 WORLD CHAMPION MAVERICKS.
    NOWITZTIME

    jrmolina@jrmolina.com

    Comment by jrmolina916 -

  60. i agree, with the caveat that the smartphone does not necessarily necessitate a look down experience (i.e. taking a photo). so there may be some unique opportunities with photos.

    i also think there would be more compelling opportunities if you could find a way to ensure everyone had the same smartphone and the same app on it. perhaps there is a way to embed mobile computing in the seat. but, probably too expensive, and still conceivably too risky for the action-packed NBA. but if smartphone/tablet prices can continue to plummet, it might be an opportunity, in my opinion. or a luxury box opportunity.

    also, regarding your wedding analogy, do you think the value proposition is different for some season ticket holders…..i wonder if that is an angle.

    interesting blog post.

    Comment by kidmercury -

  61. Good luck with that.

    Awhile back I visited the Grand Canyon, perhaps the most awe-inspiring site this country has to offer, and guess what?

    People everywhere were staring down at their iPhones.

    Comment by sudojudo -

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