Sometimes in life we are blessed with the coming together of two things that we love. Milk and cookies, chips and salsa, and…baseball and technology? Yes, that’s right. The intersection of sports and technology is actually quite huge. Whether it’s fantasy league owners needing the most updated statistics or the college football junkie who needs to know the point spread on the big game, people everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon.
Major League Baseball’s opening day has arrived and a quick look online shows that a number of teams have fully jumped into the merging world of high tech and sports. Check these out:
- The Cleveland Indians, not exactly burdened with a long history of success, have added a social media section to the stadium.
- Applications about everything in baseball are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and Blackberry.
- The Oakland A’s, who have been in a political battle for over five years to get a new stadium on the edge of Silicon Valley in Fremont, have agreed to partner with networking giant Cisco. “Cisco’s networking equipment that will let fans use the latest available technology, so that they can do everything from upgrading tickets on cell phones to watching instant replays on handhelds.”
- The entire March Madness – all 67 games of this year’s men’s NCAA basketball tournament – was broadcast live over the Internet in HD. Talk about ways to waste time at work. Thankfully, the boss button worked great.
- And the best story, at least in my opinion, involves a creative idea. As reported on CNBC, a beer vendor who works at the Seattle Mariners games started a Twitter account so that he can take orders from fans in the stands. Simply send a message to @Msbeervendor with your seat number and your order and he’ll swing by. As 36 year old an entrepreneur/beer vendor and teacher (his day job) Kevin Zelko said, “Since the beginning of beer vendors, we’ve been walking up and down the aisles seeing who wants a beer, I’m going to try to change that.”
While there are many more examples of how professional sports teams and leagues have adopted technology, it’s important to ask yourself—why? Who cares if a baseball fanatic who can’t stop reading the box scores can get their hands on even more mundane statistics?
All cynicism aside (and believe me, I’ve heard all of the jokes about the pathetically slow pace of baseball), progressive companies are at the forefront of this seismic shift in how we view America’s pastime. Why do I consider these companies as progressive? It’s not about supporting the habits of statistical geeks, it’s really about improving the customer experience and securing customer loyalty—the Holy Grail of team owners. When a family of four has to shell out over $200 to enjoy a day at the park it’s in the team’s best interests to do everything possible to make the experience an enjoyable one. And if technology and social media can help, bring it on.
I remember growing up and heading to the ballpark with my grandfather and keeping the scorebook of the game. Found memories indeed. Now I get to take my kids to the ballpark and teach them how to keep score in a game on my iPad. Oh, how times have changed.
Author: Rob Goodman
Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.