Baltimore Orioles: The ever-changing industry of sports

The Baltimore Orioles do a great job in my view with what’s now called the gameday experience. I’ve never met one person who’s attended a game at Camden Yards that’s come away saying that the Orioles really need to step up their game in terms of how the game is presented to the fans. And fortunately or unfortunately, in many cases that presentation is the game these days.

I say that because it used to be that people came to the ballpark to see the game itself. While in many cases that’s still true, it seems that people sometimes need an incentive here and there. How often do you find yourself looking at the promotional schedule so as to try to get to the park the day of a big giveaway?

At the end of the day, that’s part of the business of sports nowadays. As a purist in most sports, I feel like it would almost be refreshing to attend a game where the game was literally the attraction. No crab shuffle, no kiss cam, etc. Just a scoreboard filled with statistics for fans to read and analyze in between innings. To me, that’s how baseball should be.

But luckily for Orioles fans, I’m not in charge of that. I recognize that I’m in the minority on this, and a bare-bones presentation like that would probably drive fans away. And I also understand that teams are constantly looking for new ways to keep fans engaged throughout the game…

…over the weekend I attended a basketball game at George Mason University down in Fairfax, VA. Now as a Maryland fan I was there purely as a spectator with no real rooting interest. However while I’d prefer that not every timeout have a sponsorand so forth, I also recognize that it’s a revenue-generator. Furthermore perhaps it’s that revenue which allows the school to throw free t-shirts into the stands whenever the team hits a three-point shot and so forth.

Here’s one nice touch that you’ll never see at an MLB game or a professional sporting event at all: the game program was free. When I was a kid I’d buy a program at every game I attended. I have fond memories of gleefully reading the Washington Bullets’ game program from cover-to-cover the day after attending a game. Unfortunately for today’s youth, game programs are obsolete. And while the game program from the game I attended was small and short as compared to what I’m used to, I thought it was a nice touch to give it away for free.

Again, you’ll never see that at a professional game. In fact, the Washington Wizards don’t even sell game programs any longer. The fact that the Orioles still print one up and sell it means that people still buy them. However giving it away for free was a nice touch.

The fact is that sports is now entertainment in a way. Perhaps it always has been for all I know. So if you aren’t doing things such as shooting t-shirts into the stands, the crab shuffle, etc., people aren’t going to pay attention. In some circles is that sad? Yes, perhaps. But if the idea is to keep people in the stands, you have to do what you have to do.


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