Monday, October 09, 2006

Marketing High School Football

Is it just me or has high school football become the new sport to promote and market? Over the last few years we have seen a rise in interest in arena football, poker and the NHL – well, after it came back from a year in hibernation. Each time the sport was promoted and marketing like crazy for a couple of years until it reached a saturation point with audience. High school football is on this track.

At the moment, sports fans can watch Friday Night Lights on NBC, read a weekly two-page scorecard in Sports Illustrated on the top high school teams in the country and now according to BrandWeek, "Toyota will sponsor 45-second vignettes to be broadcast during the NBC Sunday Night Halftime Show that examine the passion for high school football in the U.S."

The article noted:

"Hosted by a pair of 22-year-olds, 'Jon & J.J. Visit the Line of Scrimmage' will debut Sunday with a feature on a team based in Clovis, Calif., and run through the end of the year.

The pair will travel the U.S. to seven high schools, including campuses in Ohio, Georgia, and Texas, in search of football programs that stand out for their passion and, in some cases, oddball traditions

From a sports marketing perspective, high school football is still an untapped market at the national level. Over the last year, ESPN has started to show high school games regularly during the season. The sport has passionate fans and boosters supporting their schools, parents of the athletes and football fans in general. If I was a company whose target market were males ages 15-34, I would be sponsoring and advertising like crazy at the national level. The NFL and college football have their "core sponsors" and I bet ESPN is looking to do the same with high school sports.

I just wonder though if people are putting to much pressure on these kids. Let them have fun until they get to college and football becomes their 9 to 5 job. I assume most of you have heard the story of Hoover, Ala., who was the number one high team in the country until they lost last weekend. This team receives so much money from boosters that they put the team in a hotel before home games? Are you kidding me? What for? The teams are not driving a lot of revenue to the school, just to football. They shouldn't (but are) be recruiting kids from other districts or states to play on the team. How much national exposure do they really need?

People continue to look for the next "great athlete" and maybe I'm old fashion, but marketing high school football seems a little much.


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