Sunday, October 11, 2009

What is a Classy Organization?

I've been thinking. I always hear someone say something like "Oh the Angels, what a classy organization". Or "Angels always take the classy route".

Likewise you also hear "The Isotopes, what a classless organization".

1)What does that mean?

2)What does classy mean to people, and why do people call some organizations classy and others not?

3)Does being classy translate into money?

I really don't know the answers to these questions but I think I will speculate a bit.

One, I think what people perceive about an organizations class rating depends alot on their own personal touchpoints with the organization and if there have been limited touch points (Let's say I'm a Manchester United fan living in Alaska) then it depends on what they've heard from other people (and if you're a Man U fan in Alaska chances are your no one you know in person has had all that many touchpoints either). After that, how the team does and the situation surrounding the team probably also have implications. By situation, I mean things like, is the organization corporately owned? Do they make a lot of money? Is the team any good? Are fans generally optimistic on the state of the team?

Ideally, I think your best situation is a privately owned team with visible ownership showing an interest to win and do win, and have stayed out of controversy. I think that this description more or less fits teams like the Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Red Wings, Patriots, Celtics, and Manchester United. There's no doubt that the Yankees and Red Sox print money, but they really fit all other categories. Nobody [unbiased] says the Yankees don't have class. And by controversy, I'm not talking about steroids. I don't think individual player ethics factor into the organizations class ratings. I do think signing convicted criminals factors into an organization's perceived class.

But factors such as time are part of the equation. I thought about whether or not any NHL team would fit into this category. Eventually I realized that the Red Wings were the best bet but other than them, no other team is always really good, no team continually pleases their fans (like the Red Wings do anyways). So you have to build a track record of transparency, good ownership, winning, optimism. A positive space around the team.

Then once all of this has been accomplished, there may be one specific incident that can realyl take your organization from having class to being classy. A large scale tribute to someone who died aways seems to qualify. Not acknowledging appropriately someone who died could be class-rating suicide. A player leaving the team on a sour note might not turn a team around overnight but certainly contributes.

Lastly, I think that to be considered classy, you go through a whole bunch of steps that would cause you to make a lot of money to begin with. That having visible management would make you competitive and that winning makes you money in so many ways anyways. That said, if someone can find me an organization that is usually bad but is considered classy, I'm really all ears.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Making Your Product Available: Radio

A couple of days ago, Chuck Swirsky, radio play-by-play for the Chicago Bulls and ex-Toronto media personality commented on how great it was that the Bulls embraced their sports content in radio form. I must agree.

See the goal of any sports team, and company for that matter is to increase the distribution of a product as much as possible. This allows more people to have your product and more people to grow attached to it, use it. Radio is just as important as television (maybe more) because it is much more versatile. It can reach out to all sorts of people and isn't exclusive to location, income, or even time. Radios are welcome at workplaces, they're installed in cars and most personal listening devices are capable of tuning into stations. Radios are cheap, and radio feeds can be picked up through the internet anywhere in the world. The same cannot be said for television or live video feeds.

On top of this, financially, being able to claim that your radio network can reach an unlimited amount of people worldwide has significant implication on sponsorship/ad revenue on radio stations. Radio play-by-play also invited people to tune into pre and post game shows, daytime talk shows and other relevant discussion about the team being covered. Again, television does not always allow the type of coverage for a sports team that radio can provide.

In conclusion, when teams are committing to radio, they are committing to making their product as widely distributed and available as possible. They are allowing people to invest a small amount of time or commitment in the team and in a grassroots method allowing them to build on that commitment. The wide distribution creates fans and gives a competitive advantage over the competition.

In about 140 characters, I communicated my agreement at Chuck, who responded:

Thanks, Chuck!

You can read Chuck's blog at or find him on twitter @swirsk054. He continues to one of the most fresh and entertaining personalities in the world of sports and Chicago is lucky to have him.