_             Jeremy Lin might be the biggest thing to hit ESPN since…Tim Tebow. These analysts are falling all over themselves to cover him and Sports Center has become Lin Center. Yet, Lin’s story is an intriguing one. He crept into New York like Roy Hobbs silently stepped off the train in the Natural. No one knew about this guy.

            Lets take a different approach to reviewing the Jeremy Lin sensation and review what he means in a business sense to the NBA.  Since the retirement of Yao Ming it was estimated the NBA’s second largest market, China, would lose up to 57% of its viewership. Yes, Lin is an American, not Chinese. But, he is of Chinese descent and could be a great way to help the NBA fill the enormous vacuum left by Yao Ming. The NBA is worth 2.3 Billion in China and an estimated 30 million watch games every week. So, let’s assume only 45% of the Chinese viewers stop watching games and this takes us down to 16.5 million watching games every week. WOW. If you run any sports league you want to keep those viewers around and watching basketball. You would hope and pray for a situation to captivate that audience. Jeremy Lin could be that answer. Even your sponsors are hoping Lin continues to play well and has an impact in the Asian market place. Ming enjoyed significant success in endorsements with Apple, Gatorade, Visa and McDonald’s. If Lin can even come close to this type of viable promoter in the overseas market he could be a very successful man. He would also make the league and basketball fans very happy.

            Right now everyone is not quite sure what to make of Lin and he could just be a passing sensation, but if he isn’t it could be great news for the NBA trying to keep a foothold in a strong overseas market. If he is just a passing sensation it’s still a phenomenal story that could make a great movie. Someone call Brad Pitt and see if he wants to play Mike D’Antoni. Personally, as a huge fan of professional basketball I really hope this works out for Jeremy Lin and the league as a whole.

Top 5 reasons you want to see Jeremy Lin succeed:

  1. Help the NBA expand its reach overseas
  2. Spike Lee sporting a Lin jersey and yelling at Reggie Miller as Miller broadcasts the game
  3. Seeing a commercial with Lin and Ming going one-on-one for a Big Mac, only to find to their dismay Larry Bird finishing it off and thanking them for the show and lunch
  4. A true “Natural” story and real life Roy Hobbs for basketball
  5. Imagining the chaos of ESPN analysts trying to decide what is more important to talk about, Lin or Tebow


**Appeared on GlovesOffSports.com**
**Appeared on GlovesOffSports.com on 2/9/12**
  Duke and North Carolina played each other tonight and I could really care less because I dislike both teams with such great intensity its painful for me to see either team win. However, the rivalry of Duke and North Carolina is a thing of beauty for marketing. Notice what I said there...I still dislike Duke and North Carolina immensely...but I knew they were playing tonight none-the-less and so did a sizable portion of sport fans.

ACC basketball and more importantly the Terps have always held a special place in my heart. Rivalries in general bring out even the casual fans who want to participate in the experience of such an emotional event that in some cases transcends the sport itself. It’s not just about the game, it’s about bragging rights or a side bet with friends. It’s about pride of knowing your team won the matchup and participating in an atmosphere of such a high profile game. In some cases if your team wins the rivalry game you are happy even if the rest of the season is a wash. Teams usually take advantage of this through variable ticket pricing because they know this game will sell but they need to embrace these game more through promotion!

ESPN does a great job of promoting what rivalry means every year and it shows in their ratings. Some programs, professionally and collegiately, need to get back to fostering the growth of their rivalries no matter the size of the program. Cowboys and Redskins used to be a major game nationwide. But when was the last time the emotions of the game was so clearly identifiable between the teams that someone who is a casual fan would know they were rivals without having to ask? It may be over a decade since Cowboys and Redskins had that certifiable punch in the gut of pure disdain for the other team. Fans would respond to the promotion of rivalries if teams stepped up their efforts to include fans and make an event of the game. This means not just marketing but in-game atmosphere that is different than all the other home games. I’m not saying go over the top but a little less politically correct would be nice.

In order to promote a rivalry we have to start with what makes a rivalry. History or bad blood between the teams goes a long way to building the foundations of a rivalry. Most fans don’t forget these moments in history and teams should do their part to celebrate history and educate new fans. Rivalries must be maintained by the team and fans alike. If the fans don’t get into it, the players won’t feed off of it, and the same works in reverse. So, start a grassroots movement with the fans via social media. People respond when they feel they have a voice and a stake in the action. Get the fans talking through twitter, facebook and blogs. Start a dialogue. Let them know you appreciate the history of the rivalry game and fans involvement. Sell special t-shirts and keep it tasteful but unique. Have a whole campaign that is a week long, like homecoming, leading up to the event. Don’t forget to use the usual mediums of communication like print, radio and tv to shine light on the history of the game. The usual mediums of communication are still the most effective. Now if your team is really good you want to shine light on how impressive your team is and how they are going to make new history in the long-standing rivalry. You only sell just the old history if your team sucks. When writing radio ads include action sequences because listeners often tune out just straight voice-overs. Don’t forget marketing never stops and setting up for next year begins the day after the current rivalry game.