This is my favorite time of the year for watching baseball. After a long summer at the ballpark, football was a welcome distraction in August and September. Now that the initial excitement of the football season starting up has worn off a little bit, the anticipation of baseball playoffs is among us. The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, the nights longer. And there’s plenty of excitement in the recent highlights as there always seems to be…and that’s something unique about sports – that anticipation you feel in your gut when you’re so connected to something that it changes you physically.
There are probably four different ways I can think of that a sporting event can be experienced:
– Your team is clearly better and dominates from the beginning. You feel pretty confident in these games and probably tend to let your focus drift to something else, though you never leave that channel.
– Your team is clearly going to lose. You’ve got no chance at all. Hopefully the other team will put in their “B” squad or backups so your starters at least have a chance of redeeming themselves with something positive.
Then there’s the in-between…the kind of games when you’re really not sure who’s going to win. Two ways to look at this scenario:
– Your team is ahead, but not by much. You thought you had a chance to win and probably knew it was going to happen, but not easily. You’re on the edge of your seat. You can’t sit still. You are nervously biting your fingernails, crossing your fingers and have your hat on inside out and backwards.
– OR your team is behind and it’s not looking good. They’re rallying, but it would take a lot to get ahead of the competition. Your players are looking tired, but not deflated, desperately looking for that last ounce of motivation to catapult them ahead of the other team.
Have you ever felt this way? For most, it’s probably a much better feeling to be ahead than behind, but does that feel as good as being behind and then winning? Definitely not.
And this is one way to think about the things that keep us connected to sport and what makes sports business different than any other. How many companies or businesses can say they have the connections and passionate consumers that most sport franchises boast? A few, but not many. As sports professionals and executives, let’s not forget to nurture these connections all year long with our consumers, not just in the post-season when everybody is watching. So with that, enjoy the next week of sport – MLB playoffs, a handful of still undefeated football teams, and plenty of other worthy stories that are bound to filter through the cracks.