Archive for the ‘Sports Marketing’ Category
Apparently expanding the greatest tournament on Earth is almost a done deal. According the Sports by Brooks, sources at ESPN say the NCAA basketball tournament expanding to 96 teams is a “done deal”. Many fans of college basketball, analysts and those in the game feel adding 30 teams to March Madness is a horrible idea. Why mess with something that clearly isn’t broken, especially when the NCAA is catching heat every year regarding the mess that is the college football bowl system.
Normally I’d be getting into the PR ramifications of this decision, but when speaking of the NCAA that could really be an entire series of posts. PR isn’t exactly their forte. So instead, as a lifelong college basketball fan, I simply want to give my idea to expand the tournament without destroying the current format, but while also increasing publicity and revenue for the NCAA.
I’ve always had the following idea about the play-in game, and through discussions with friends, other college basketball fans and on #SportsPRChat on Twitter it has evolved. I’m not sure if anyone else has proposed this, but I’ve always felt the play-in game was a decent idea, just horribly executed. First, why should two teams that earned automatic bids have to participate in a play-in game? Second, why do I want to watch two of the worst teams in the field play for the right to get trounced by the likes of North Carolina, Kansas or Duke? There’s zero excitement.
I propose we expand the tournament from 64 to 68 teams by adding three additional play-in games. The change is that the now four play-in games would be between the last four at-large teams in the tournament and the last four out of the tournament. The winners of the four games will then be slotted into the four #12 seed positions. This results in far more exposure, publicity and revenue for the play-in games.
This season for example, instead of watching two small conference teams battle it out to get trounced by Kansas or Kentucky, we could see eight BCS or talented mid-major teams fight it out. Going by ESPN.com Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracketology, with this idea, the Tuesday before the official tournament kicks-off we’d potentially see Maryland vs. Wichita St., Old Dominion vs. Marquette, Cincinnati vs. Seton Hall and Connecticut vs. Louisville.
Who wouldn’t want to watch those teams fight it out for a chance to be an upset special in the Big Dance? Almost every year there’s a #12 seed that makes a run in the tournament.
This might not add as much revenue as the NCAA is looking for, but as mentioned it adds more excitement. The four play-in games would be far more interesting. It wouldn’t render the regular season basically irrelevant, like adding 30 more teams would do, and it wouldn’t minimize the anticipation and excitement of the current first round.
This would probably only slow the move to 96 teams, but I think this change to the play-in system would be a good one even if they don’t expand the tournament. Either way, I’d love to hear thoughts on this idea, or any other ideas on how to improve the tournament in the comments below.
Thursday night in Game 3 of their first round playoff series, the Boston Celtics routed the Chicago Bulls 107-86. In the win that put the Celtics up 2-1 in their best of seven series, Boston held Bulls rookie phenom Derrick Rose to just 9 points, while he dished out 2 assists and committed 7 turnovers. On the other hand, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo continued his stellar play with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals.
In a pregame ceremony Rose, who averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 assists per game in the regular season, was given his Rookie of the Year Award by NBA commissioner David Stern. The Bulls certainly didn’t have total control over the award ceremony as it’s standard for the commissioner to be on-hand to dish-out the hardware, but for their part, the Bulls decided to promote the event by littering the arena with rose petals. That’s right, rose petals were covering the aisles, seats and courtside media tables.
The question is, did the Bulls go too far in pregame promotions, considering this was a very important and emotional game? This was the first home playoff game this year for Rose and the young Bulls.
The TNT cameras showed several shots of the petals throughout the arena, and their announcers mentioned the display several times during the broadcast. It seemed like a creative nod to their new Rookie of the Year, but this type of display opened the team and Rose up to plenty criticism and sarcasm.
I’m not suggesting Rose’s poor play and the Bulls getting run off the court were because of the rose petals, but the promotion did seem to raise the emotion and pageantry of the moment. The display also provided a tailor made story line for the media, especially as they found their seats and computers covered in the petals. The media love to use cheesy promotions such as this to use a team as part of the punchline.
To prove the point, a quick Google news search of “Bulls rose petals” results in pages of stories using the rose petal ceremony as a punchline in either the title or summary. The media definitely had a field day with this one. I can understand the excitement of the Bulls staff, this is a huge accomplishment for Rose, and with he game being on TNT, a huge opportunity for the Bulls franchise, but it seems like a decent idea at the wrong time.
The promotion came off as cheesy, added that little extra pressure that wasn’t needed and opened the team up to sarcasm in the media. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was the rose petal display a harmless attempt at honoring their player, or did it add to the pressure of an already emotional setting and provide folly for the media?