What the Boston Red Sox can teach us about football (and business)
10 August 2023
The Boston Red Sox are one of the giants of US baseball. Around since the early 1900s, these guys have won nine World Series. I’m in Boston this week and was lucky enough to catch the game at Fenway Park on Monday.
Sitting in the stands, I revelled in the spectacle: singing fans; non-stop action; and an unbeatable experience. The game got me thinking about the lessons that we can learn from the Americans. How could we take the best things about US sport and apply them to British football and UK plc?
At the bottom of the eighth inning, the crowd was treated to a rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”. It’s a tradition that the Red Sox have observed for almost 20 years. The fans went wild. If you want to know why this tradition came about, you can find the answer here. It was a real lesson in community, engagement, and the importance of consistency.
We have our chants in football, but wouldn’t it be great to level up to big musical traditions for the whole family – leaving out the aggression. The music added another dimension to the entertainment and kept the excitement in the stadium high throughout the whole event. Everyone sang, even the fans for the other team.
As leaders, we need to create this same sense of community in business. Bringing people together, be they customers or colleagues, and giving them a sense of unity. For customers, this means having the sweetest person on the phone from customer service, and the best wraparound care – beyond your basic product or service. For colleagues, get your arms around your people through big social events and celebrations – it’s a vital way to maintain engagement. Building a loyal base is a cornerstone of success in both sports and business.
The American dollar
Wow, do Americans know how to invest in their sports? The stadium was buzzing, the light show was phenomenal, and the food and drink was flowing, turning a casual Monday night into a massive event. We need more of a focus on entertainment, food, and non-stop action here in UK football.
Luckily, I think change is on the way. In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in American investors purchasing stakes in Premier League clubs. This has had a significant impact on valuations – Liverpool, for example, is now valued at a staggering $4.7bn, while the Red Sox are worth $4.3bn. Leeds United, recently acquired by American investors, is valued at between $200m and $300m – a figure that is expected to rise as the club benefits from the marketing expertise of its new owners.
But we will also see other benefits, as the Americans bring some US sparkle to bear. BigChange has also seen a phenomenal impact from American investment. The backing by Great Hill Partners unleashed our growth potential and helped BigChange to become a premiere player on the world stage – not just in the UK.
As the new football season begins, it’s clear that the American influence on English clubs is growing – a change I believe is for the better. From improved marketing strategies to a focus on fan experience and engagement, there’s a lot that we can learn from our friends across the pond. As business owners, these lessons are just as relevant to us too.
With clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Leeds now benefiting from US investment, it’s an exciting time for English football – and it’s only set to get better.
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