Hello fellow Nets Fans!
This is my first post on NetsDaily, but I have been a huge follower of the site for years now. As a big fan of the New Jersey Nets, I have come to respect the fan community and all of those who post here, especially Net Income and Nets Daily for doing an amazing job of keeping us all informed on the latest news and rumors. For a fan of the Nets, there is no greater site than this one.
I finally decided to post here because of a class assignment. I am majoring in sports management with a focus on event marketing. I have always had an interest in sports, but for as long as I can remember, entertainment has been just as big of a component to the live experience as the actual gameplay is. So, my assignment was to give an in-depth analysis of a sporting event without focusing on the sport. Basically, If I decided to choose basketball, I had to focus on the pre-game festivites, timeouts, halftime, and post-game. I figured, what a perfect opportunity to catch some games at The Prudential Center.
As a Nets fan, I knew it wouldn't be easy focusing on my attention away from the game, but with this assignment making up 65% of my final grade, I had to really give it a good effort. I decided that I would attend 5 games and, in the end, assess the fan experience outside of those 48 minutes of gameplay.
I began my assignment when the team returned from their west coast road trip and, luckily, I saw them win 4 out of the next 5 at home with the only loss coming from the Mavs in what was, as all of you know, a close one that we should have won. Without going into a game by game description of what I found as I did in my final paper, I would like to share my conclusion and get your opinions.
When it comes to pre-game festivities, the Nets don't offer much. Occassionally, they'll have a dance team come in and perform in front of the audience, but there usually aren't any fans to make up that audience. For whatever reason, whether it be traffic or the new 7pm start time, The Prudential Center doesn't seem to fill up until midway through the 1st quarter. However, one of the newest things I noticed from this season was Budweiser Trivia. While I enjoyed the questions, I did not take part in the voting process. In fact, I don't know if anybody in the arena is because, as I said, there isn't much attention paid to the score board during the pre-game. Perhaps this is because most fans would rather go meet the Nets Dancers before the game. Eh, who can blame them?
Nothing new to Nets fans is Inside Look with Tim Capstraw and Chris Carrino and, for me, this is very interesting for a fan attending the game. Those two guys really know their stuff and since you don't have the opportunity to hear commentary throughout the game, this has always been a nice touch to the pre-game ritual. It gives you a great analysis of what to expect and I've always enjoyed it. Plus, once Inside Look is over, you know the players are usually on their way out and the game is about to start. Obviously, at this point, I was starting to drift from my assignment and toward the game lol
Back on track, let's talk about introductions. I personally cannot stand the way Marco G introduces our team. Not only is he yelling, it sounds like he needs to clear his throat. It just irritates me and I think the Nets could do a lot better. In fact, on Russian Night, I enjoyed that much more. However, I'll take Marco G over Gary Sussman anyday. That guy needs to stick to public relations and away from the mic. Don't get me wrong, they both may be the nicest guys in the world, but when it comes to entertainment, these two men just don't do it for me. In fact, at one point, I was pretty sure Marco G forgot who Stephen Graham was and introduced Favors as Devin Favors. Again, to the casual fan, this is no big deal. But for the purposes of my assignment, I had to focus on the smallest of details.
After the Dancers and Team Hype perform to Back in Black, Team Hype comes back out flipping with flags. I don't know if any of you have ever noticed, but the guys who come out with the flags scream at the top of their lungs. When I sat in the upper level, I couldn't hear it, but believe me, you will hear them if you sit lower. As these guys come out in full force, there are other people in black polos keeping the referees away from them. At one point, a ref almost walked right into those giant flags, but was held back and literally saved from getting hit. Again, another thing I never noticed, but it really shows how much is going on.
Once the game begins, there is something going on during every timeout! It's truly amazing how much the Nets offer in terms of entertainment. For me, I have to rank them in this order: Sly Fox, Nets Dancers, Netsational Seniors, Nets Kids, and Team Hype. The reason I rank Team Hype last is because i've been to other arenas and i've seen other teams' performers and the Nets do not come close to those other teams.
However, Sly Fox is an amazing mascot. He seems to genuinely love the audience and the fans, especially the kids, love him. He's obviously very busy during the game and doesn't always have time to take pictures, but when he does, i've never seen him say no. In fact, I was able to get one myself when I sat in section 21. I asked one of the workers in the black polos if Sly Fox could stop by, and they made it happen only minutes later.
As i'm sure you have all seen at Nets games, there are occassionally contests and I enjoy them a great deal. I have always loved the shooting contests because it gives the regular guy an opportunity to shoot on the New Jersey Nets court. At one game, the guy next to me was picked for a contest and won later that night. Again, it was a guy in a black polo who picked him out. If I could make my own contest, I would probably throw in a few half court shots for bigger prizes, but I could just be jealous that I wasn't picked haha..
I love the T-Shirt Throw! Like the music played throughout the game, the T-Shirt Throw gets you pumped up!! For me, it wasn't really about catching anything but, rather, seeing the looks on the faces of our fans as the entertainers come out with the shirts in hand. People get really excited over this timeout and it carries over into the game. I think, with every timeout, it is important to excite the crowd and have that relay into the game.
When it comes to Entertainment and Marketing, Nets fans know that the master mind behind it all is Brett Yormark. Love him or hate him, he is a driving force behind the Nets franchise. I saw him at just about every game I attended, and I tried to get a read on what he was thinking as each timeout took place, but he must be a poker champion because I couldn't figure out if he was happy, mad, or indifferent. Most of the time, he was on his phone. However, I did see him stop to talk to a few fans and not all of them were in the first 4 rows. I'd say he's happy with the overall experience of the event, but what about the fans?
In conclusion, what have I learned from the attention I put toward these games? For starters, there is no reason to get to the game before 7pm unless you enjoy Inside Look as much as I do. Get your food and drinks early because timeouts and halftime offer much more in terms of entertainment than you may have realized before. If possible, bring earplugs to drown out Marco G and his killer catchphrase "HEEYYYY." Also, if you're interested in possibly meeting Sly Fox or the Nets Dancers, sit in sections 21 or 22. That seems to be the best spot to locate entertainment along with very important Nets executives. Try to find one of those guys in the black shirts. They seem to be all over and obviously work in entertainment. They hooked me up and maybe they can do the same for you so be nice! Overall, the Nets fan experience is second to none. There are some things I could do without, and the Nets could adjust a few things to make it better, but after seeing as much as I did without going behind the scenes, I now know there is much more going on in front of our eyes to make it all work than I ever realized. So, the next time you go to a game, take the time to notice what I did and make your own opinion. As a Sports Management student, I saw a lot that I could use in the future.
This was a small portion of my 20 page paper due next week, but now that I've wasted enough of your time, I thank anybody who is still here reading this for sticking with it and giving me a platform to share my views. Id love to hear what all of you have to say about this and hear your own opinions on the entertainment and Prudential Center environment. Finally, LETS GO NETS!!