I just called…the wonder of a phone call!

How sport can lead through Covid-19

(Some random thoughts that I shall update, time permitting)

Throughout my time as a sports administrator, I’ve always treasured the power of a phone call…particularly from a player or coach to a fan.

We’ve also had great success from other initiatives such as birthday cards, personalised video shout-outs and thank you notes etc., but that is a topic for another article.

In these times of isolation, I can think of no better way for a franchise to engage with its fan base than with a phone call.

In our experience the average is about 8 ring-throughs (where you actually speak to someone) and about 12 messages per hour. Over a four hour period you can reach eighty members.

If each of the team’s players/coaches was entrusted to reach out and engage with their supporter-base over the next four weeks through a simple phone call, they could reasonably expect to contact about 400 households. Past experience suggests three members to a household…so 1,200 members in total.

A basketball team with 10 such key personnel could reasonably reach 12,000 members. An AFL team – three times as many.

Whilst many may consider this onerous, these numbers are evidence-based, very possible – and arguably more timely now than ever before.

Most clubs should have information about each member’s preferences and matching a player or coach to a fan should be relatively simple.

Sport and sporting franchises are inherently tribal. They exist to inspire and entertain.

A phone call from a sporting hero to a dedicated fan right now would be a source of unimaginable joy and a life-long memory.

An invaluable gift that costs nothing but time – time many athletes have a lot more of these days.

Social role-modelling & inspiration

Pro-Athletes are role-models. It’s a mandatory requirement for the job (it sits under pro).

Their brand equity is shared – with their club and their community.

So, with great power comes great responsibility (starting with the pursuit of goodness, which is evidenced in good behaviours: like not-swearing, leading as good citizens, community service, etc.)

At this time, there can be no more important duty for a sporting franchise/athlete than to assist with re-enforcing key health and social messages.

Society and particularly impressionable kids like to follow athletes (just ask Nike).

Social and community messaging on washing hands, staying home, keeping distance, staying positive, home-schooling projects, back-yard and indoor tips and tricks, thinking of others…

All of these could be powerfully and entertainingly delivered by professional sporting brands/athletes – RIGHT NOW!

There are innumerable ideas that spring to mind…clever, fun and innovative short video and audio messages that could lift our spirits, change behaviours and go as viral as the COVID-19 and help us all defeat it!
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Nick Marvin served as managing director/CEO of three professional sporting franchises as well as chairman/CEO of two national/international sporting leagues over 13 years. He has since returned to practicing as a management consultant.