This Is Why I Watch

I wasn’t raised a sports fan. As a kid, my rooting interests were casual at best.

I’m a third generation Jayhawk, so March Madness has always been in my blood. I could throw a baseball pretty well because my dad was (still is) a die-hard Mets fan. I tried to get into America’s pastime, but we lived in Royals country, and well, it was all downhill from the moment I turned one.

I wasn’t athletic, I preferred books – I volunteered regularly at the local library all throughout junior high and high school. And aside from several years of dance as a child (which, let me tell you, ballet is possibly more hardcore than many sports), horseback riding (I was a passable horsewoman), and a brief stint as a Junior Varsity cheerleader (let’s not talk about it), I basically paid no attention to that world growing up.

Many of my friends already know this story, but for those of you who don’t, that all changed in 2011.

2011 was the worst year of my life.

Read More »

The NHL’s Growth Problem (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Non-Traditional Market Pt 3)

It’s time for my last segment on marketing & the NHL, and much like part 2, this article is about a particularly poorly served demographic – the US’s growing Latinx population. A quick note on terminology here: I have chosen to use Latinx here instead of Latin@ for readability reasons (and because it is gender neutral). I’ve chosen this term over ‘hispanic’ in most cases, as hispanic also includes Spaniards, who are very much not the population I’m speaking of here. Also, there are arguments that the use of Hispanic was begun as an effort to differentiate Spanish speakers from white people (ie a racist history), not as a term of self-identification.

Off the bat, I want to make one thing very clear; I’m white. In the census boxes, I tick “white, non-hispanic.” I’m pretty much the whitest person you can meet, other than one of those like, creepy Children of the Corn kids.

That said, the point of this article is to focus on why this population is so important for the NHL to court, versus how they should be courted, as there is a lot of cultural nuance that I am not privy to. Most suggestions I will make come from data or learnings from other people or companies, most of which are Latinx owned.

While this article does stand alone, it is probably helpful to read through Part 1: Player Marketing and Part 2: Marketing to Women first.

Part 3: Speaking French is Romantic, but Speaking Spanish is Lucrative

(Speaking Spanish is also sexy, as Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek would like to remind us).

Read More »

The NHL’s Growth Problem (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Non-Traditional Market Pt 2)

This particular article is a bit harder to write, because as a woman, I feel extremely passionate about female fans in sports, and just how underserved that demographic is. Every woman I’ve ever spoken to about sports has some sort of story about how her ‘worth’ as a fan has been questioned, usually by fellow male fans. There was an excellent research piece done by @phylliskessel13 over at Pension Plan Puppets studying the interaction between gender and sports fandom, and you should read it.

But that’s not what this article is about. This article is about marketing, the NHL, and why the NHL needs to specifically reach out to women to further its goals of “Growing the Game.”

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Part 2: Marketing to Women Isn’t About Political Correctness, It’s About Making Money

Read More »

The NHL’s Growth Problem (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Non-Traditional Market Pt 1)

As I’ve mentioned before, I come from a marketing background. It’s what gave me a basis for all my analytical work, and why I find the “business” side of hockey just as appealing as the “play” side of hockey – I’ve always been curious about how and why people spend their money.

A lot of people think marketing is just putting together advertising campaigns like in Mad Men, and while ads are certainly an important part of what marketers do, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Think of marketing like this – psychology, but for profit.

Through marketing operations, companies are attempting to create an emotional connection with their audience in order to influence the purchasing patterns and pricing thresholds of that audience.

This is what brings me to the NHL and how it differs from most of the professional sports leagues in the USA. I say USA a) because Canada’s markets are much smaller for the ‘Big 4’ (one MLB team, one NBA team, CFL instead of NFL) and b) hockey is “their” game, so the marketing for it is going to be different and omnipresent.

Why does that matter in the context of this series? Well, Canada has 7 of the 30 NHL teams, but not even half the population of the United States. Given that these articles are focusing on how to grow the game, looking at a saturated market like Canada isn’t going to help much. When you already have ~90% awareness* amongst your target audience, adding more marketing dollars to convert and retain fans brings slim returns on investment (ROI), and therefore I will be focusing specifically on the USA in this series (though many points are relevant across the border too).

I am going to break this series out into three parts I wish the NHL would specifically address in their grand scheme to “Grow the Game.”

Part 1: Humility Culture, Player Branding, and Getting ‘Em While They’re Young
Part 2: Marketing to Women Isn’t About Political Correctness, It’s About Making Money
Part 3: Speaking French is Romantic, but Speaking Spanish is Lucrative

Read More »

In Which Carolyn Yells About the Calder Voting (One Last Time, I Promise*)

Ok, as you guys all know I’ve been doing the Stars season breakdowns, and today I got to pull our beloved Klingberg’s numbers. Spoiler, his graph looks like this:

Klingberg 14-15 10 gm avgs

Because I’m a masochist, I decided to look at Ekblad’s averages. Fortunately, he played 81 games, so I didn’t have to worry about breaks in play like I did for some of the other guys.

I'm Not Bitter (Ekblad)

Like all the other graphs, this is 5v5 and Score Adjusted.

Read More »

Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It (Part 4 – Toronto Maple Leafs)

For this final installment of Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It, we’ll be taking a look at the Toronto Maple Tanks – I mean Leafs. I have to confess, this is the team I probably care the least about, through no fault of their own. The media situation in Toronto is openly hostile, and that kind of bad juju makes me shy away. That said, I’m giving this my best shot, so here goes nothing.

If you missed any of the earlier parts, click here: Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, and Edmonton Oilers.

Read More »

Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It (Pt 3 – Edmonton Oilers)

It’s time for the third installment of my Armchair GM: We Can Rebuild It series, looking at probably the most tragic of the four teams: the Edmonton Oilers. Why is their story so sad? Well, because unlike the Sabres, Coyotes and the Maple Leafs, they were actually trying to be better this season.

Click to read Part 1 on the Sabres, or Part 2 on the Coyotes.

Read More »

Grinding It In Deep

So I’m relatively new to being a sports fan. I’ve off and on watched basketball, football, and soccer my whole life, but this is generally under duress and usually with a book in my hand, only looking up when the crowd gets excited and everyone starts yelling.

There was really nothing to prepare me for how . . . erotic calling a sport can be. I wasn’t raised on a steady diet of grown men (or women) telling me all about someone’s big, hard body as they crash into another big, hard body and so naturally found myself smirking a lot during game commentary, looking around the room to see if anyone else heard what I just did. I definitely wasn’t prepared for hockey commentary, which has the added bonus of someone’s stick getting caught in someone’s thighs. It seems like it’s just standard operation procedure to talk about pucks squirting out of places, to mention someone’s thick thighs, to talk about a player being “rubbed off” in the corner.

With that in mind, here are some gems to make your inner 12 year old giggle. Context not included.Read More »