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David Ostrowsky

David Ostrowsky

Wednesday, 08 November 2017 16:45

What Fans Really Consider Rivalries

     The Lakers are in town to play the Celtics this evening. Perhaps the most storied rivalry in NBA history. Wilt vs. Russ. Magic vs. Larry. Kobe vs. Pierce. With the Celtics standing as one of the top teams in the NBA and the Lakers rebuilding around a talented young core including rookie Lonzo Ball, clearly this is still a sizzling rivalry. Or is it?   Depends whom you ask.   Folks over at Northern Kentucky University have created a Know Rivalry Project in which they have conducted surveys to measure fans' thoughts on what constitutes a heated rivalry. The underlying idea is that in many cases there may very well be a major difference between the networks' perception of what fans value as a rivalry and fans' actual feelings.   And one city's fans may deem a matchup a "rivalry" while the other fan base views it as a snoozer.   According to Aaron Luken, a sports business student at NKU who is the project’s media relations assistant, “Rivalries have become a feature of leagues’ marketing strategy, yet relatively little research has been done to substantiate fans’ perceptions and comparisons of rival teams.”     Indeed, the glaring schism between perception vs. reality can have serious consequences.   The project has consulted with Dr. Joe Cobbs who added, “Misinterpreting or overly saturating fans with rivalry propaganda can lead to fans’ disillusionment and unsuccessful marketing strategies that are inauthentic.  When properly understood, rivalry can strengthen a fan base and add drama to sporting events.”   Despite the fact that the Lakers have been dreadful in recent years and the Celtics are years removed from the recent Big 3, the numbers from KMU's project still indicate that the Boston-LA rivalry is hot. Or at least legitimate. There is not much of a differentiation between how the two fan bases view the rivalry, which says something. In contrast, the Sacramento Kings' fans think that the Lakers are their big "rival" while it appears the Lakers fans couldn't care less.   The Know Rivalry Project raises some very interesting points. One is that a rivalry that was hot a decade or two ago may not be so sizzling now. The NBA is like rooting for laundry and teams' fortunes change in a New York minute. Secondly, if you look at a matchup between the Bucks vs. Bulls, the Know Rivalry Project claims that the Bucks' fans care about this matchup a lot more than do the Chicago fans. That's great for drawing in Milwaukee fans, however in the far more influential TV market of Chicago, the fan interest could be lagging -- a situation that bears watching.   Personally, I applaud the intentions of the Know Rivalry Project, yet I still worry about the sample size. I believe 600 people, while not insignificant by any means, is still not large enough. If KMU can increase their sample size, ten fold, hundred fold, now we're talking. And ESPN, ABC, TNT should be listening.     For the time being, I believe that a better barometer is doing something as simple as looking at the prices of tickets posted on StubHub. The price for tickets to next Thursday's game against the Warriors are more than twice that of admission for tonight's tilt vs. the Lakers. And these numbers reflect behavior of thousands of people. In other words, at least for the Boston market, it would seem that fans are more intrigued by a matchup with the Warriors in comparison to one against the Lakers.   Even if it means the Warriors don't have the names Wilt, Magic, and Kobe etched in their history books.                     

 

  

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Thursday, 22 June 2017 13:24

Looking Past the First Round

Much has been written about the Celtics' 1st round decisions. Not to be overlooked, however, is their next selection in the 2017 NBA Draft, which happens to be No. 37 overall (from Minnesota via Phoenix)

Below is a breakdown of five potential players the Celtics could take in the Second Round at No. 37.