Editor’s Note: Matt Brascia, a new contributing writer with LAS will be covering the NLL, box lacrosse and all things Canada. The coverage is only going to increase from here! Today Matt takes on the recent decision by certain NLL teams to get in on the social media game in a major way. For more from Matt, follow HIM in twitter: @mattbrascia. Given the subject matter of the post, it’s only appropriate!
For the second time in history, a professional sports team will forego the traditional last name banner on the backs of their uniforms, in favor of social media handles. On February 12, the Philadelphia Wings will have each player don their Twitter names on the backs of their jerseys in hopes of creating a greater connection with current and future fans.
The lacrosse world seems to be responding in two ways; people either love it or they hate it.
Naysayers believe that as a professional sports organization, like the NLL, should not allow such a mockery to be made of the product they are so desperately trying to gain respect for in the North American sports market. After all, this “publicity stunt” does not seem like something the historically established leagues –football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc- would have to resort to and traditionalists feel that this gimmick is cheapening their sport.
However, it is fairly safe to argue that the NLL has more problems than trying to connect with fans on another level. (For instance, can we get a veteran lacrosse mogul to turn off that damn music during play please? It’s hard to focus while annoying Top 40 hits are blasting in my ear. And who gave the arena announcer permission to address the players and fans with motivational speech during the play? C’mon traditionalists! Pick your battles! …ok, taking a breath… what was I saying? Oh yes. Twitter handles.)
Having a professional lacrosse team look outside the box and attempt to connect with the very fans they can thank for having a job, is hard to look at as anything but positive. Sure, it looks a little cheesy to have something like “@KevinCrowley21” on the back of a professional uniform (love you Kev-o) but in reality, that’s really the worst of it. This public relations move has not only gathered more attention for the team, but it has shined a larger spotlight on the sport itself; all PR is good PR and professional lacrosse has undoubtedly come to the attention of more people who had no idea of it’s existence.
Furthermore, through the cultural evolution that is social media, the public is able to connect with the very figures they idolize on a much more personal level; and arguably, more than at any other time in history. Traditionalist or progressive #trendsetter (see what I did there Twitter-heads?), there is no argument against the fact that if the NLL is to establish itself among the giant sport-entities it competes with, it needs to find a way to constantly relate to as many people as possible.
Utilizing effective social networking tools to potentially gain a significantly larger fan base at the expense of looking a little silly is good business. For the #littlefishinbigpond that is the @NLLNetwork, that has to be a #nobrainer.