Fantasy Football Lounges: Improving the In-stadium Experience for NFL Fans

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Since the record peaked in 2007, NFL game day attendance has steadily declined and teams are averaging an $800K decrease in annual ticket revenue. This fact may be puzzling considering the growing popularity of the NFL, but the explanation is simple. The slump in attendance can be largely attributed to the rise of fantasy football and its 24.3 million participants, who are now opting for their couches over the in-stadium experience on game day. Social media and technology have greatly enhanced the at-home game day experience, providing fans with unlimited access and exclusive content through apps and other online platforms. This occurrence has influenced teams in the NFL to leverage the popularity of fantasy football, social media, and technology by building in-stadium lounges dedicated to fantasy football and the current needs of fans. The thought of attending an NFL game and watching games other than the one right in front of your face may seem ridiculous. However, fantasy team managers and modern football fans now require this in-stadium capability, driving teams to fulfill these needs through the integration of fantasy football and in-stadium technology.

As the preference to stay home on game day has boosted, the participation in fantasy leagues and its revenue has grown. Pras Subramanian of Yahoo Finance’s Breakout, explains that the rapid growth of fantasy sports is due in part to several factors including the amount of youth participation, which bodes well for the future of fantasy. Subramanian also highlights the presence of FOMO, or the fear of missing out as social standing continues to be of concern among millennials. As the future of fantasy sports looks brighter and brighter, NFL teams realize the importance of catering to this large crowd of fans through in-stadium enhancements.

The Jacksonville Jaguars experienced a significant dip in game day attendance, which is no surprise considering the small-market of Jacksonville. An article published by Bloomberg’s, Curtis Eichelberger, discussed an interview with Jaguars Senior Vice President, Hussain Naqi, regarding the Jaguars reasoning behind their new fantasy lounge at EverBank Field

[“Our fans are consuming fantasy sports and stats at a level they never had before. We want to remove any obstacles to a fan coming to the stadium. The lounge will provide a comfortable environment where they can check their scores.”]

The Jaguars and other small market teams face the constant challenge of trying to keep up and compete with large-market teams such as the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Catering to the needs of modern fans through in-stadium technology and WiFi is now becoming standard throughout the NFL. Leveraging the popularity of fantasy sports and enhancing the in-stadium experience will allow NFL teams struggling with game day attendance, a better opportunity for a successful future.

The San Francisco 49ers new Levi’s Stadium, which will open up at the start of the 2014 season, will also include a fantasy lounge for fans to enjoy. Levi’s Stadium, located in Santa Clara, California will be the most tech savvy stadium in America and feature amazing in-stadium capabilities. The Yahoo Fantasy Football lounge will be the “most technologically innovative space in the NFL”, according to the 49ers. Through the integration of fantasy football in Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers hope to satisfy the needs of fans, drive game day attendance, and ultimately drive online traffic, resulting in the online sharing of game day experience.

The days of simply filling stadiums with the allure of a live professional game are long gone. In order to compete with the at home game day experience, teams must now look to satisfy their fans through fantasy football lounges, in-stadium technology, and WiFi capabilities.

Yoga: The Preventative Medicine Of The Future For Athletes

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“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is about what you learn on the way down,” explains Yoga 4 Athletes founder and instructor, Britt Burkett. Yoga, a form of exercise originated in Eastern cultures more than 5,000 years ago, has turned into a global phenomenon and is currently practiced by millions of people worldwide. Traditionally, yoga is recognized as a spiritual practice in which individuals seek to connect the mind, body, and spirit through a combination of poses, breathing techniques, and meditation.Yoga quickly gained popularity throughout western cultures in the 20th century and many people now practice this ancient form of exercise to improve physical, mental, and emotional strength. The benefits experienced through yoga have now motivated many professional teams and athletes to integrate sport specific yogic techniques with traditional strength and conditioning to promote prevention, improve recovery, and enhance athletic ability. As performance training and sports medicine evolve to meet the needs of athletes, yoga is now being considered an essential component of sports training that will preserve the body and mind through the rigor and demand of sport.

As the demands placed on the body through sport increases, yoga aims to reduce the chance of injury and promote longevity. Through the regular practice of yoga, athletes can experience numerous physical and mental benefits. Improvements in strength, range of motion, flexibility, balance and stamina are just a few of the physical benefits derived through yoga. “Athletes who compete at an elite level, often have overdeveloped areas of the body, and tend to neglect the underdeveloped areas,” Burkett discusses. Burkett, who is partnered with STARS Sports Training and Rehabilitation Services in Anaheim, California created this program when she noticed the need for yoga tailored to athletic performance, prevention and overall better habits. Most athletes over look the importance of stretching; therefore yoga provides a fun, yet challenging way to incorporate stretching and improve flexibility while simultaneously enhancing performance. Yoga 4 Athletes incorporates challenging techniques and movements that strengthen mental focus, body awareness, and improve proprioception. Burkett encourages her students to remain consciously aware of their mental state when practicing Yoga and focus on connecting their breathe with the movements. These conscious efforts translate well into competition and undeniably give athletes a competitive advantage.

The perception that yoga is practiced by petite, granola-loving females has shifted throughout the last decade as the practice has popularized in the West. Many professional athletes have publicly stated their love for yoga and have even gone as far as attributing certain improvements to the practice. LeBron James credits his endurance to yoga, and incorporates the practice to maximize his talent, maintain physical health, and avoid injuries. Seattle Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll, encourages his players to meditate daily and incorporates yoga into their training regimens. These healthy habits improve mental clarity and mindfulness, and develop an athlete’s ability to remain relaxed throughout intense competition. Is it a coincidence that the 4-time MVP of the NBA and the 2013 Super Bowl champions all practice yoga? I think not!

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The practice of yoga undoubtedly creates a competitive advantage for athletes and I will even go as far as saying that incorporating yoga may increase the chances of winning a championship. Titles don’t lie! Regardless of sport, every athlete faces mental and physical challenges. Incorporating yoga that is relevant to sport can give athletes a competitive edge and allow them to reach their highest potential. As professional teams, elite athletes, and performance training facilities continue to prioritize preventative practices, sport specific yoga is guaranteed to prevail as an essential element of sports training. Athletes are changing the perception of yoga and as Burkett best describes her Yoga 4 Athletes program, “It is not your moms yoga!”

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Poor Financial Planning Leads Pro Athletes to Bankruptcy

We have all heard the many stories of professional athletes going broke once their careers are over.  Situations such as those of Michael Vick, Pete Rose, Mike Tyson, Marion Jones and other pro athletes running into money troubles always bewildered me…how could athletes who get paid millions go broke?? I used to not comprehend this reckless spending whatsoever, but as I’ve gotten older and begun to understand how expensive life really is, I now get how it happens so often. Professional athletes are in the spotlight, scrutinized by the public, and many players feel the need to uphold a certain image, which requires spending a lot of dough. Many professional athletes run into financial troubles early on in retirement, 78% of former NFL players within 2 years of retirement and 60% of former NBA players within 5 years of retirement according to Sports Illustrated. How in the world do over half of former professional athletes, who often make more money in 1 game than many of us will make in YEARS, manage to run into such serious financial problems? Lavish lifestyles, bad business deals and investments, and a lack of financial knowledge are just a few ways that athletes so easily go down the road of financial hardship. On top of the many ways to mismanage money, professional athletes average a 3-5 year career, allowing them a very short window to make an amount that will keep them financially secure during and after their playing days.

With financial hardship trending amongst former pro athletes, proper money management has become a hot topic in the sports community. More athletes are looking to prioritize their monetary health, utilizing financial planners and educating themselves on proper budgeting and spending habits. The NFL Players Association has made strides by becoming the first union in professional sports to have a certified financial advisory program as discussed by ESPN’s Darren Rovell. Although the NFL is headed in the right direction this battle will not be easy, as athletes will continue to become millionaires overnight, with no idea of how to manage it all. I assume the frivolous spending of professional athletes will only continue, therefore other professional leagues must start taking strides to educate their athletes on proper money management and prioritize financial health. Although it is the individual’s responsibility to handle their financial affairs, I do believe the leagues have an unwritten duty to do their best to provide the resources necessary to assist athletes in remaining financially healthy throughout their careers and after. Check out this infographic from Mint for an illustrated explanation!

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Technology Enhances NFL Stadiums and In-Game Experience

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The NFL has experienced a 4.5% decrease in average game day attendance since the record in 2007. The NFL noticed this decline as fans began opting to watch their favorite team from home, preferring the at-home game day experience over the in-stadium experience. The comfort and convenience of watching a game from home, with the best possible view, access to a restroom, food, and avoiding crowds and traffic does sound appealing. HDTV, game and team apps, social media, and broadcasting also influences fans to watch sporting events at home, as they provide just as much content for those at home if not more. However, sporting events were created to provide live entertainment and give fans a great experience. This shift in preference has presented the NFL a challenge to enhance the in-game experience and start filling seats again, which the San Francisco 49ers will pioneer with their new stadium opening at the start of the 2014 season.

The San Francisco 49ers organization will lead the NFL in providing the best in-game experience possible, opening their 2014 season in the most tech savvy stadium in America. The new Levi Stadium located in Santa Clara, California is costing $1.2 billion and will provide fans with stadium-wide WiFi capability, mobile connectivity, IPTV, HD video boards measuring over 13,000 square feet, and a fantasy football lounge. The in-stadium app will monitor food, drink, and bathroom lines, and allow fans to watch instant replays and red zone right from their seats. It is no wonder that this state of the art stadium will be sitting in the heart of the innovative Silicon Valley, providing its tech loving community with the most advanced stadium. As the NFL strives to improve fan experience and fill their stadiums, it will be interesting to see what strategies they will develop next to provide fans the best possible in-game experience.

Watch the video below to check out the 49ers new tech savvy stadium!

Athlete Representation: The Role of the Sports Agent

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The role of the sports agent has been a controversial discussion since the inception of athlete representation. The intent behind their function has been questioned by many in the sports community, however their purpose is now viewed as essential to the athlete and often contributory to their status and possible opportunities. Sports agents are stereotyped as deceitful and greedy but many athletes rely on them for contract negotiations, PR, financial management and other business dealings. The perception of an agent’s value to an athlete has driven their function within sport into a multi-billion-dollar industry AND a big debate with contradictory situations emerging such as the one of Baltimore Raven Matt Elam.

The recent partnership between Jay Z’s Roc Nation and CAA Sports inspired me to do a little more research on sports agencies and develop my own opinion. I came across this article on Forbes, which featured a list of the world’s most valuable sports agencies and gave a brief background of each. The list was lead by CAA Sport and included other big time players such as Boras Corporation, Wasserman Media Group, and Octagon. 7 out of 10 companies on the list have a contract value under management worth over $1 billion and generate multi millions in commission and let’s be honest…Jay Z isn’t getting into the game just because he loves sports. Of course he has a passion for the competitive sports arena with his natural ambition, but bottom line there is a lot of money to be made here and a business mogul like Jay Z can spot that profitable investment from a mile away! While agencies defend their loyalty and commitment to clients, many others question their motive and the debate of weather they play a positive or negative role in the sports community continues to draw adverse opinions.

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In my opinion, many athletes do not have the background knowledge or resources to give themselves the best possible opportunity in the professional sports arena. Sports is all about who you know, without an agent many athletes would not have the connections to build their brand and promote themselves off the field as well. Agencies provide necessary resources to their clients and although it may seem to some as if what they do is money driven and cutthroat, their function is vital to the success of athletes who may not be able to navigate their way through the cutthroat sports industry. For most athletes with the hope of going pro, having an agent will ultimately make them more money and give them a better chance in the saturated arena. Therefore hiring an agent can be a great investment for many athletes. On the flipside, hiring an agent may be a bad investment for the athlete with personal connections and resources that could save money such as Matt Elam did. The role of the sport agent is vital to some, expendable to some, but as the debate continues I leave you with the famous words of Rod Tidwell to Jerry MaGuire, “Show me the MONEY!!”

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What It Takes To Be A Great Athlete

Elite athletes don’t just train…they GRIND! Great athletes don’t just train to improve at their sport, they prepare for competition by incorporating diverse styles of training to develop their overall athleticism. Being a top athlete also demands an incredible amount of mental and emotional strength to remain focused and play with great intensity at all times. The idea of training to be a better football or basketball player has now shifted to the idea of training to be a better athlete overall. Quality over quantity! This demand places a lot of stress on athletes, requiring them to take proper care of their body and mind to endure a long, successful career. Properly developing an athlete from a young age while educating them on how to recover is vital to keep an individual ahead of the curve and stand out in the sea of competition.

Incorporating several training techniques into an athlete’s workout regimen is necessary to prepare the body to perform maximally. A proper warm-up and recovery, mental preparation, good nutrition and diet, and plenty of sleep can make or break an athlete. These practices have become essential in the development of the new age athlete and without these things the body will eventually break down. To prepare the body and mind for peak performance athletes are now incorporating prerequisites such as functional movement screenings and body composition tests to determine where they are and in what ways they can improve. While training to improve strength, endurance, speed, power and flexibility remain just as imperative. Athletes are also starting to incorporate things like yoga and Pilates to improve their core strength, range of motion, body awareness, posture, and mental discipline. With all these different philosophies being used by athletes today it is easy to see why athletic performance is at an all time high.

Sports performance training has come a long way since its inception and it will only continue to progress as athletes and coaches become more educated on proper development and care through the evolution of sports medicine. As the popularity of sports continues to soar and new research is brought to life, preparing athletes will continue to evolve and ultimately bridge the gap between training, prevention and recovery. If athletes do not take the best possible care of their bodies and minds, their careers can only last so long. Utilizing a wide range of training techniques is vital for athletes to perform at their peak and remain healthy throughout the rigor and demand of their sport. The video below will send chills up your spine as it gives you a slight glimpse into the mind of an athlete and illustrates the determination it takes to get up and GRIND each and every day!

Are Women Taking Over the Super Bowl??

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Every year, millions of people gather around the television to witness the most anticipated game in American sports, the Super Bowl. Traditionally, football has been known as a favorite sport among men. Women’s interest in football has never been as strong, most likely due to the violent nature. However, in the last decade there has been a significant increase in female viewers for the Super Bowl and in the NFL overall.  This is an exciting period in sports to experience as the perception of the fan is evolving and women are becoming a key demographic to target through sport. As Super Bowl XLVIII quickly approaches brands are homing in on the female demographic, and according to Nielsen demographic data, 46% of the Super Bowl audience is women. Adweek sums up the phenomenon for us like this…

[“Consider these stats: According to Nielsen demographic data, 46 percent of the Super Bowl viewing audience is female, and more women watch the game than the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys combined. She-conomy.com reports that women influence the majority of consumer spending across all categories, and onlineMBA.com published a report that found women comprise the majority of Twitter users (59 percent). Finally, women out-tweet men by 60 percent, per a study of 1,000 British Twitter accounts by Brandwatch.”]

The reason brands pay millions of dollars for a commercial spot less than 60 seconds is not just to build more brand awareness and a memorable commercial. Of course these objectives are part of the mix, but brands and advertisers now know that paying millions for a quick spot on TV during the Super Bowl could be worth much more than that. Advertising during the Super Bowl puts a brand in a position to be potentially shared millions of times online just as it did for Volkswagen in 2011. Knowing that an advertisement has the potential to reach millions of people before, during and after the Super Bowl is what drives brands to pay all those millions. Sure it may seem like a ton of money in the beginning, but imagine the possibilities of an effective ad in a society where online content has the potential to go viral in the matter of minutes. I think that is an investment worth making! Knowing that female viewership is steadily rising and that women are the predominant users of social media, brands and advertisers are looking to target women in hopes of making a connection and ultimately being shared online. It is exciting and impressive to see the female demographic starting to take precedence in advertising through sports and I am eager to see what the Super Bowl numbers will illustrate this year.

Sports Business from a 20-something-year-olds perspective

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