Suspense in sports storytelling

Use suspense with sports related storytelling.

I’m sitting here writing this blog as I am my wife is watching the Bachelor and I must say one thing they do really well is build suspense (well actually this was last night since I’m posting this on a Tuesday). The entire show is built on suspense. They keep teasing you with little clips and sound bites of the different characters saying different things that keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing about what the outcome might be and who is going to end up in a romantic relationship and who isn’t.

Even though some of the feelings we’ve see these people feel and hear them say this season are very obviously pointing one direction, the producers of the show have fed us enough other stimuli to make it anything but a sure thing.

Have you thought about that?

Well if you’ve ever seen a sports broadcast or pre-game TV report that’s exactly what they’re doing. So how does this play out in sports in general? Well, that argument can go one of two ways…

1 – Perhaps some teams or organizations refuse to indulge in that sort of drama and therefore don’t allow any comments. I’d be willing to be that most sports organizations spend enough of their time keeping their athletes and staff in line that they don’t need or want to to “feed the trolls.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing athletes, I’m only relating the fact that most teams probably prefer to be private and keep their matters closed to the public…doing everything they can to gain a competitive advantage. By keeping things close, these organizations are either unheard of and not often reported on or always in the news because they are so exclusive that any information that comes out is “news”.
2 – On the other hand, some teams probably have a PR staff that is constantly pushing something out, whether that be good or “nothing” at all. They’ve got daily or weekly deadlines that must be met and they’re doing everything they can to be on the front page or on the headlines that night or the next day.

Either way, regardless of where your organizations stands between these two ideas, it’s important to remember that your audience likes a good story, whatever that might be. Suspense doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can use suspense to build anticipation about how awesome you are…who’s in the starting lineup today? What’s coach going to do when we score this time? What’s that crazy fan in row X doing to do for the Kiss Cam this time? What does the student section have planned for their team’s rivalry game during the conference championship?

No matter who you are or what you do for your sports team, remember that suspense is good storytelling which makes for good business. Don’t make something up just for the sake of filling dead space, but remember this tool used in good story telling; and sports is good story telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s the good guys and the bad. And they’re both trying to overcome some sort of odds in order to be the one to claim victory at the end.

Build suspense. Tell better stories. Engage your fans.

Go Forth.

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