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In October, I flew to Berlin to speak at a digital sports entertainment conference. Four hundred or so digital executives and me for about 30 minutes. I’m so excited for several reasons:
I do enjoy blabbing. Ha.
Here’s the deck from the talk:
But more importantly, sports – in many ways – have gotten me to where I am today (or at least on the track to today) and have influenced my life!
I started as a sports fan (aka consumer) probably around Age 5 or 6 when I went to my first Fortuna Dusseldorf Bundesliga games. There was no Twitter, Facebook, etc. at the time and the only place you could interact with the sports and their stars was by watching them on the field. Then we would rush home to watch the highlights on TV. “Yes, we saw that play. Oh that was so great.” Then we might read the recap in the newspaper the following morning and that was it.
When I watched the Dusseldorf hockey club at their arena, I would sometimes hang out at the entrance to the locker rooms to get my jersey signed. I was later so close and connected to the players that I had no problems getting interviews for my school newspaper. And the connection between sports consumption and sharing (aka journalism) was born. Other than word of mouth, journalism was really the only way to share sports stories and experiences back then!
A few years later, I added more serious participation to the list. I first played American Football for the Dusseldorf Panthers, later played for the Iowa state championship team at the Iowa City West High School and was able to earn a scholarship to join the Iowa Hawkeyes under legendary coach Hayden Fry. Still no Twitter, though! Live digital participation didn’t exist, yet. But I set out to play college football and decided to study sports journalism.
At the time there still wasn’t much happening with live digital engagement, but I was basically connecting the three pieces of sports that I cared about. I was participating, sharing and also connecting.
Reality hit that I would be ending my playing career. Good thing I attended classes and was able to graduate from the University of Iowa! I jumped right into journalism and worked mostly as a police reporter, until I started my own news start up called Eastern Iowa News, which penetrated about a fourth of the market in nine months. Yay! That worked. The site covered news and sports – especially local sports! What was interesting was that I hardly ever covered a game. Most of my coverage – not just sports, but news too – was happening from my kitchen.
I basically connected with people through Twitter and Facebook and asked them to become correspondents so to speak. Send me your updates, we’ll feed them through a live streaming platform (Cover it Live then, which is now owned by ScribbeLive where I work). Later, we’ll write some quick stories from the games. Something unique that others weren’t necessarily covering.
Of course, this field has tremendously evolved since Eastern Iowa News shuttered its doors in 2009 when I moved to a media company to run their digital storytelling and engagement training. I’ll be actually filling a post over on the ScribbeLive blog later this week and discuss the seven steps to participating in all of this digital consumption today.
Of course, digital storytelling can also have negative influences on culture, as a former NFL starter recently reminded me while we were on the same flight together. Very true. Let’s remember that athletes are people, too!
I will use these seven steps as the basis for my 30-minute keynote to 500 or so sports executives. I’ll draw on my own personal stories, share some of the ScribbleLive examples and share my vision on how sports conversation and storytelling can become even more relevant as channels evolve and audience splinter even more.
If you are in Berlin in October, I hope to see you. If not, book 30 minutes with me here to chat about strategy and tools!
There’s always a fine line for former athletes to re-live the glory days to to speak but remembering in a meaningful way how sports participation and involvement can shape lives and experiences! So, I’m very thankful for the opportunities and experiences that sports have given me!
This was first published in October 2017 and updated in November with the PowerPoint from the keynote.
Here’s the video from a related webinar in 2017: