Thursday, April 16, 2015

Take me out to the Fitbit…

Yesterday was a pretty good day.

I began the day dropping my just-in-time completed tax forms off at the Post Office. I was going to just drop them in the mailbox, but was walking by the Government Center office, and decided to make sure they got in a real person’s hands before the witching hour.

Which turned out to be a good thing, as I had put the forms in a large envelope, without realizing that envelopes above and beyond standard business cost more. So if I’d gone the mailbox route, my forms would have been knocked back to me and not made it to the IRS or Mass DOR by the deadline.

After the nice PO guy hand-stamped my envelopes with a time well before midnight, I headed to the gym.

My gym (which is also Kennedy Brothers PT) runs a charity, Christmas in the City, which each December organizes a big Christmas party for homeless kids, and often has some sort of fundraising going on.

Someone had given them two tickets for yesterday’s Red Sox game. Usually, when they have tickets they go to the highest bidder, but these came in a bit late. There were no takers.

So, knowing that I’m a Sox fan, Jake of Kennedy Brothers fame, offered me the tickets for nada.

Well, I couldn’t take them for less than face value, but, as I had been thinking of heading out to Fenway to see if I could get a walk-in ticket, I was happy to have the much better grandstand seats.

Unfortunately, it was pretty last-minute to find a companion for ticket number two, so I ended up going by myself.

As did the guy sitting next to me, a doctor my age who, like me, is a Red Sox lifer, and who ended up being a great ballgame companion.

The weather was gorgeous, and the only lousy thing about the game was that the Sox got thumped big time.

Oh, well, there’s always next game.

One of the great urban experiences is walking to and from the ballgame, which I did, stopping on the way back at the Trident, the only indie bookstore anywhere near where I live.  And bought four books, included the latest from Stewart O’Nan, one of my favorite writers. Plus ordered another book that I’d just seen reviewed in The Economist.  Sure, I could have ordered it on Amazon or downloaded it onto my Kindle, but I want the Trident to live long and prosper.

Also on the way back from the park, I walked down Boylston Street, checking out the little memorials that had sprung up in observation of the second anniversary of the Marathon Bombing.

Life goes on…

And so does this lead-up to what the Dodgers are doing to “engage” their fans.

Anyway, those who don’t pay any attention to customer retention and/or corporate education may not be aware that “engagement” is all the rage.

And it’s no surprise that baseball would be concerned about engaging fans.

Baseball fandom is aging. I heard recently that the average age of baseball fans is 50, and on the rise. (Once again, I find myself above average. Yea, me!)

So what are the Dodgers going to do about it? Other than going on a spending spree that’s brought them to their whopping, MLB-topping 2015 payroll of $277M, $60M more than the Yankees are shelling out, and more than a $100M more than the Red Sox are payrolling this season. (The Sox are in 5th place on the hey, big spender list for 2015.)

The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to work later this summer with startups focused on sports technology, in hopes of finding new ways of engaging fans with the team. The program will seek to foster emerging companies working in fitness and sports training, among other areas.

Tucker Kain, chief financial officer of the Dodgers, says the team hopes to join with companies that can develop fitness-tracking technology for players that could eventually be rolled out to the public.

“We want to track health and diagnostics of the team to keep them healthy, but also we want to make sure there’s an ability to scale and bring that data to fans,” he said.

The Dodgers on Tuesday began accepting applications for the program, which will be operated in conjunction with advertising agency R/GA and will host 10 companies in Los Angeles from mid-August until November. Aside from fitness tracking, the team is interested in joining with mostly late-stage startups that can develop technology for fan engagement, “smart” sports stadiums, big data and analytics, and sponsor integration.(Source: WSJ)

Forget the wisdom (or not) of a sports team getting into it with late stage startups. Might that might be a bit distracting? I mean, get that eye back on the ball.

I’m focusing on that “bringing that data” – i.e., the fitness info of the players – “to the fans.”


I realize that there are sports junkies out there who want to know everything, but do we really need to know how many push-ups Mookie Betts can do?

Obviously, the Dodgers, even with their crazy roster spend, have too much time and money on their hands.

I know that fan “engagement” is important, and I want those younger fans to be engaged enough to keep this most wonderful of sports going for as long as I’m still around. Still….sharing the in-the-moment fitness data with the fans? Oh, it’s a bit more upbeat than the end-of-life way that MLB engages with fans with official coffins and ash urns. Still…

I really don’t want to be taken out to anyone else’s Fitbit.

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