After 6 years of having Gonzo Soccer academies in the USA, Mexico and Colombia, I think it's time for the brightest and best leaders of our academies to meet one another - and while the
at it, solve some of the world's problems!
In our first ever international exchange program - a girls' leadership retreat - we will be taking over 30 girls to Dallas, Texas this Oct 24-30 to Wolf Run Ranch to play a little soccer and do a lot of introspection, team building and empowerment of self and others.
My belief is that even though many of our
00+ Gonzo Girls come from rough home situations or communities without running water, the opportunity to play soccer, and now for some, to travel abroad, is something that will help the girls 1) survive the perils of adolescence and 2). become empowered to be change makers in their communities. Girls' empowerment has been a trending theme lately because it is an economical solution to so many of societies' problems. It is also a way out for many young girls ... read below a message I received from a middle schooler I met earlier this year
in Houston. She
melted my heart with her story
will be attending the retreat in Dallas
. (I know, we got a lot of work to do on her spelling before she's gonna be getting any NCAA scholarships but we have time and she seems inspired. Let's help her.)
"Hello, well you asked me to send you an email and so here it goes. My name is Yiret C. Gomez I was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Three years after my birth my parent and I opting for a better future traveled here. I have lived here for 11 years and though I am not legally in the country I have never let that stop me. I am an A & B student and work very hard at school because I believe it's the only thing that can make me someone important in this world, also I believe that if my parents made the sacrifice to get me here I should take advantage of all the opportunities I have. I started playing soccer in 3rd grade and their I gained my first nickname "Tornado" because my coach said I destroyed everything in my way! Ever since I have won 5 championships and been captain of the team for two of those seasons. Soccer is one of my loves it's one of the places were I feel so free and strengthened. It's one of the only places were I have any problems and it's amazing the feeling of every single mussel and bone in your body connecting to your feelings and knowing exactly what to do out of love not knowledge. It's always been easy for me to connect with the ball and know what to do with it without really thinking about it. I know that not being legal in the country will be a big barrier I will not let that slow me down or give up and I know along the way I will meat the right people and find the right opportunities to accomplish my dreams!"
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, or can at least share the link below with your social network, we still need to raise $15,000-$20,000 in order to cover all the Leadersh
p Retreat costs, so every bit helps. Also, if you have a company that is interested in making a corporate donation or sponsorship, let me know and I can forward you our sponsor deck.
NASCAR this week will announce a deal with Mexican movie star Eugenio Derbez to develop a full-length comedy — a project the sanctioning body hopes will accelerate its courtship of the Hispanic market.
Aside from being NASCAR-centric, the precise plot of the movie has yet to be determined. But Derbez, who has raced competitively in Mexico and was ranked No. 1 on Variety’s 2014 “Power of Latinos” list, finds his “sweet spot” in comedy, which is why the movie will go that route, according to Zane Stoddard, NASCAR’s vice president of entertainment marketing and content development. NASCAR’s Los Angeles-based entertainment marketing division and Charlotte-based NASCAR Productions will collaborate on the film.
A partnership between Derbez’s production company, 3Pas Studios, and Pantelion Films — a joint venture in which Lionsgate is involved — will have the right of first refusal for the movie. Benjamin Odell, a partner at 3Pas Studios, will serve as the film’s producer, while Stoddard will be executive producer. NASCAR hopes to have production finished in 2016 in order to release the film nationwide in early 2017.
For NASCAR, the film would represent another box to check off on its new content strategy, which was launched 2 1/2 years ago as a way to fuse together NASCAR’s core marketing objectives with its content offerings.
“We felt that for us, the energy we spend in developing content is better spent aimed at younger, more diverse audiences,” Stoddard said. “In order to do that, we needed to continue to develop content with our broadcasters for the core fan, but the new piece of it was that we would be particularly aggressive in developing what we call off-channel content.
“We’re particularly excited about this project because it’s the heart of what we set out to do with our new content strategy: Do some things that we think are unexpected — if not disruptive — by partnering NASCAR with one of the biggest Hispanic entertainers in the world.”
Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez, two Hispanic NASCAR drivers, will help consult on the direction of the film. Other Hispanic-related content initiatives that NASCAR is working on include a docuseries with Mexican star William Levy that was announced earlier this year but is still in the development stage. Meanwhile, Stoddard said NASCAR also has a deal in place for another film with Lionsgate, though he wasn’t ready to share details yet.
“Partnering with Eugenio is going to automatically bring in a segment of the Hispanic audience that may not currently be NASCAR fans but will come watch because it’s Eugenio,” Stoddard said. “So I think it has the ability to be very influential.”
Which sport is America's national pastime? For decades the answer was simply baseball. Now, the answer is football.
But does football's grip on our nation's collective heart wane a bit as another type of "futbol" grips the nation through the MLS?
For many U.S. Hispanics, the answer is yes. Soccer has been a game of many Hispanic nations and cultures for decades, so it's a natural extension to expect a certain degree of that fandom to transcend into these culture's American lives. And while the National Football League's Hispanic-focused promotions have paid off in the form of 25 million Hispanic fans, it hasn't necessarily come at the expense of one of their more native games.
If a young person in your household plays soccer, it’s not surprising. Soccer is now the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., with 15 million players, and 30 percent of all households have at least one member who plays the sport, according to ESPN.
Huge sports figures like English soccer star David Beckham have made the sport more popular than baseball among young Americans, age 12 to 17. In fact, soccer, in general, is the second-most popular sport for Americans aged 12 to 24, bigger than pro basketball, pro baseball and college football.
Our nation's Hispanic population consists of a large number of passionate sports fans. 94 percent of Hispanic men call themselves sport fans, with 56 percent falling into the avid category.
The two demographic groups most passionate about soccer are young adult, those ages 18 to 29, and Hispanics. Demographers expect the Hispanic population to triple by 2050 making up roughly one-third of the population, and Hispanic sport preferences differ starkly from those of other Americans.
Football remains the most popular sport among young adults, but soccer is the runner-up. Thirty-two-percent of young adults say football is their favorite sport, compared to 13 percent who say soccer, 10 percent who say basketball and just 7 percent who say baseball. Further, soccer fans tend to be much younger than other fans.
The average age of Americans who say soccer is their favorite sport is just 37, while the average age for football fans is 46 and for baseball 53.
If baseball is America’s past and football is its present… then soccer may be its future.
For many Duke students, there exists an invisible wall between the University and the larger Durham community. But a group of Blue Devil football players took it upon themselves to start a program that has brought local high school students on campus twice a week this spring for a game that the players themselves are still learning.What do you think?
An idea that originated last June, Soccer Sin Fronteras—a free after-school soccer program—was created as a collaborative effort between Duke and Latino and Latina youth in the Durham area. Despite being much less familiar with soccer, the football players have been instrumental to the program’s early success.What do you think?
The birth of a partnershipWhat do you think?
During the summer of 2014, six Duke football players and a few other students enrolled in an intensive Spanish language course taught by Liliana Paredes, director of the Spanish Language Program. During the six-week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. class, students studied and practiced Spanish and participated in service learning events with the Latino and Latina community, which accounts for 13.5 percent of Durham County.What do you think?
Toward the end of the summer session, redshirt junior defensive tackle A.J. Wolf and junior safety Grant Hall were approached at a community event by Lorena Sanchez, a mother of three, who was looking to start an inexpensive, accessible soccer program for Latino and Latina youth in the area that would benefit them academically as well as socially and physically.
“The idea came from the boy in the yellow shoes over there,” Sanchez said, pointing to her son on the soccer field at a recent practice on Duke’s Central Campus. “He liked to play soccer when he was little and I tried to find a place for him to play, but everything I was looking at was too expensive.”What do you think?
Because Sanchez could not manage to find a suitable program for her son, she sought out Ivan Almonte—a high school counselor who is intricately involved with Latino and Latina youth in Durham—to assist her. Almonte directed her to Paredes, who began the discussion about starting a soccer league.What do you think?
The only question was how to do it.What do you think?
“I was considering different options to make this happen,” Paredes said. “You need some sort of structure because with volunteer work alone, things don’t usually happen very fast.”What do you think?
With some help and input from her colleagues in the Spanish department, Paredes settled on the idea of turning the project into a topic for an independent study. What she originally thought would be just Wolf and Hall turned out to be a small class of nine students—including Wolf, Hall, center Austin Davis, tight end Erich Schneider, offensive tackle Gabe Brandner and defensive end Michael Mann—working together to help one mother bring about her wish for a more accessible soccer program for children like her son.What do you think?
“We needed a course name,” Paredes said. “That’s when we decided to call it Soccer Sin Fronteras [Soccer Without Borders].”What do you think?
An exercise in patienceWhat do you think?
Before the organization could hit the field, however, it needed to complete a detailed to-do list, which the players anticipated would take a few weeks but ended up requiring two months of work. Toward the beginning of the process, the players and students became increasingly concerned that the vision they shared with Sanchez would not pan out the way they hoped.
The direction was uncertain and the planning was overwhelming, and all of their conversations were centered on infrastructure and funding. But Paredes said that the players and students remained determined to deal with their challenges.What do you think?
“The first two months, we were very frustrated,” Paredes admitted. “We didn’t know the direction we were going, but all of the logistics were things that we ultimately had to do.”What do you think?
In order to work with minors, every member of the group was required to go through a training and certification process beforehand. In addition, the group also had to tackle the issue of risk management and insurance, and with some help from Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Paredes and her students were able to find the right people to guide them.What do you think?
Once the liability information was squared away, it was up to the students to start fine-tuning the details of the program. But like most things leading up to this point, it was not going to be as easy as they originally thought. Paredes pointed out that the hardest part was finding practice space.
“There were a lot more logistical hurdles than we thought there’d be,” Hall said. “We came across some obstacles that we didn’t think we would, namely how the kids were going to get here and field reservations.... Insurance was also a big deal.”What do you think?
The group ran into another minor issue when trying to figure out the specifics of the program—very few of the Duke students had much experience with soccer.What do you think?
As a result, the members of the organization had to educate themselves about the sport in order to be able to best instruct the youth who come to practice with them. Their resources included countless YouTube videos on soccer fundamentals, whatever prior knowledge any individual has about soccer and even some help from members of the Duke men’s soccer team.What do you think?
“Most of the people involved in the program are football players,” Wolf said. “A lot of us haven’t played soccer much or at all. A soccer league is a lot easier to start than, say, a football league, so logistically it is probably the best, but soccer is also the sport of the community that we’re trying to reach.”What do you think?
The process was a learning experience for everyone, as well as something that could not be rushed if the program was to succeed.What do you think?
“It’s not something that we’re the most comfortable with,” Hall said. “But it’s definitely fun to push ourselves.”What do you think?
Mentorship and communicationWhat do you think?
One of the most vital components of a partnership is communication. Hall said that group communication has been made easier by the fact that many of the members are also teammates.What do you think?
“Because we’re teammates, we already have the skills we need to work together,” Hall said. “We can cooperate well, and we can talk to each other on a real level if we have to. And there’s also an aspect of respect that comes from the fact that we’re all working toward the same goal and we can hold each other accountable to do our best.”What do you think?
The language barrier has not been the easiest to overcome. For many of the program’s participants and their parents, Wolf said, English is not their primary language, which makes it harder to relay messages efficiently.
Paredes said this particular obstacle has been a bit easier to overcome due to the diversity of proficiency in Spanish within the group but can still present a problem when trying to communicate important information on a large scale.What do you think?
This communication is particularly important for the athletes and students that coach the kids to be able to communicate effectively with their team. Junior Natasha Catrakilis also emphasized the importance of this particular type of communication. She, as well as other members of the organization, had never coached a team before getting involved with Soccer Sin Fronteras.What do you think?
“Figuring out that dynamic has been quite a challenge,” Catrakilis said. “Trying to figure out how to communicate with someone younger than you, how to get that respect but still have them be comfortable around you has been big challenge for all of us, but doing it in a group setting really helped.”What do you think?
The 42 participants are split up into three teams—a red team, a blue team and a green team—all coached by the student members of the organization. On a typical practice day, following between 30 and 50 minutes of warm-up and skill drills, two of the three teams will scrimmage while the other team participates in a leadership discussion led by their coach, with occasional assistance from Paredes.What do you think?
“It’s really during these discussions that you get the closest to the kids, I think,” Hall said. “You get to see what they genuinely think and feel about things outside of just playing soccer.”What do you think?
In addition to helping develop their skills, Catrakilis and others see the leadership component of the program as one of the most useful and vital features of the organization.What do you think?
“It’s one thing to develop athletic ability,” Catrakilis said. “What we really try to teach the kids is that all the skills that they learn playing sports can be transferred into school and life and I hope that we are achieving that.”What do you think?
Passion is contagiousWhat do you think?
With the help and support of the Duke and Durham communities, Soccer Sin Fronteras hopes to grow in both size and value to the Latino and Latina community in Durham and elsewhere in North Carolina. Many members of the community have expressed their gratitude for this program and said they are excited to see it grow and plan to help in whatever ways they can.What do you think?
The members of the organization agree that this process has been a valuable learning experience overall. From reserving soccer fields to coaching to fundraising, they all have more knowledge about the Latino and Latina community than they did coming in.What do you think?
“I’m here not just for a degree but for an education,” Hall said. “Getting educated on the culture around me is a super important part of that. Opportunities like this really force some self-reflection on you and I think I’ve learned a lot about myself in having to do that.”What do you think?
Wolf said that one of the most important things he has learned during this process is the importance of bringing energy to the practice field every day.What do you think?
“Passion is contagious,” he said. “You have to lead by example and if you are excited about what you are doing, then the kids are going to be excited about it too.” What do you think?
The organization’s first—and currently only—sponsor is Antonio Rodriguez, owner of La Vaquita restaurant in Durham. Rodriguez said that the passion he has seen in the organization had a big impact on him as well. He recently donated almost $1,000 to go toward official jerseys for the team.What do you think?
“The program interests me because it is helping the youth. I think that it is a way of supporting the young boys through soccer,” Rodriguez said. “The support that Duke is giving, I feel the same commitment, being Latino myself, to do my part to help my race. If Duke can do it, I can do it too.”*What do you think?
Not only has the passion of the organization reached other members of the Latino and Latina community, it has even found its way to some of the local high school teachers.What do you think?
“A lot of the kids, for various reasons, cannot be on the high school team,” said one teacher who attended the final practice. “This is their time to get crowds and attention and we like to be able to come out and support them in that.”
Although the group has made some grand strides since Wolf and Hall were first approached by Sanchez, they do not plan on settling for where they are now. With their current resources, they have been forced to turn away youth who are interested in participating.What do you think?
In the immediate future, the group hopes to find even more students, faculty and staff who have a passion for soccer, the Latino and Latina community and the Spanish language to aid in their effort to reach out to young Latino and Latina youth in the Durham area.What do you think?
“A year from today, I see this being a program with about 30-40 kids, a full-size practice field, official uniforms, a roster and some competitive tournament play,” Wolf said.What do you think?
For his 21st birthday, Wolf said that instead of presents, he is accepting donations to the group’s Indiegogo account.What do you think?
Sanchez said the program has proven to be exactly what she was looking for.What do you think?
“The program is stupendous to me,” she said. “It is something that I didn’t expect. I hope that the program grows and lasts for a long time.”*
Several Latino baseball stars are having a phenomenal start to the baseball season, and statistics back this up.
At least one Latino player in both the American and National League is leading the league in eight of the top 10 major hitting and pitching categories. Those categories being batting averaging in both leagues, home runs in both leagues, ERA, runs batted in, and even wins in both leagues.
Don't believe us? Take a look.
Miguel Cabrera leads the American League in batting thanks to his .517 performance at the plate. While it's unlikely he will maintain that incredible .517 average throughout the remainder of the season, the Detroit Tigers know they have arguably the best player in the game. You can expect Cabrera to be in the running for his third career MVP award. In case you were wondering, Cuban infielder Jose Iglesias has the second highest batting average in the AL.
Over in the NL, Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Adrian Gonzales is leading in batting average at .556. The 32-year-old Mexican first baseman has been on a tear this year so far, as he is not only leading in batting average, but home runs as well, with five.
Speaking of home runs, Nelson Cruz leads the AL in homers to start off this season, with four. This comes as no surprise as Cruz led the AL in home runs last season with 40 for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, he's looking to repeat that powerful long ball magic with the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners haven't made the playoffs since 2001, but Cruz could help end that drought this season.
But, it doesn't end there. Cabrera and Salvador Perez are both tied for the league lead in runs batted in this season among AL hitters with nine. Perez has the Kansas City Royals in first place in the American League Central at 7-0. Cabrera and the Tigers are presently in second place in that division. While a Latino player doesn't lead the NL in RBI's at the moment, Gonzales is currently tied for third place with seven.
Historically speaking, Latinos have always performed better at the plate than on the pitcher's mound. Names like Roberto Clemente, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa come to mind. However, we've seen Latino pitchers increase over the years dramatically. This year is a great indication.
Of the six pitchers in the AL who are still tied for first with a perfect 0.00 ERA, two are Latin American born: Carlos Carrasco and Ubaldo Jimenez. Carrasco has had injuries in the past, most notably Tommy John surgery, but he has yet to allow a single run for the Cleveland Indians this year. Jimenez also hasn't allowed a single run yet, for the Orioles. Last season was kind of disappointing for the Venezuelan right hander, but he's off to a heck of a start this season.
The New York Mets have the winningest pitcher in baseball, and he's over 260 pounds, and he turns 42 years old next month. Bartolo Colón leads the NL in wins alongside Julio Teheran of Colombia, and Dominicans Joaquin Benoit and Rubby De La Rosa. Yordano Ventura leads the AL in wins on the undefeated Royals.
Of the 10 major player statistical categories, hitting and pitching, a Latino player has an outright lead or a share of first place in eight of them. The major categories where a Latino does not have the lead is ERA in the NL and RBI's in the NL. Although it should be mentioned that Johnny Cueto has an outstanding 0.64 earned runs against average this season for the Cincinnati Reds.
From soccer to football, baseball, boxing and basketball, Hispanics represent a huge opportunity for the sports industry.
According to a Nielsen report, 94 percent of Hispanic males are sport fans, and 56 percent consider themselves avid fans. This translates into bigger audiences and a huge opportunity to increase ticket sales.
Although they think they’re making an effort, some sport teams and their sponsors still are struggling to connect with the rapidly growing Hispanic market. Some executives think it is an operational challenge. Others feel that being present in the community with one of their Hispanic employees or becoming a sponsor of a nonprofit Hispanic organization in their markets is all it takes to reach every fan in the community.
The truth is the lack of cultural understanding and the inclusion of a multicultural strategy as part of an overall marketing effort is what is limiting the growth of these teams and their sponsors.
According to Nielsen, Hispanic fans are twice as likely to attend a sporting event once a week. When they are not at the games, Hispanics tend to watch sports programming with others. Watching sports is their opportunity to socialize.
The NBA is doing a great job of connecting with this growing audience. Hispanics represent 18 percent of the NBA’s fans base, outpacing the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population by 38 percent since 2008. There are 17 Latino players in the league and Hispanic fans identify with these players as role models. They feel represented on the court by them.
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you do not have a Hispanic player in your team you shouldn’t reach out to this booming audience. On the contrary, your efforts should be even stronger. Hispanics are the fastest-growing consumer segment in America. They are affecting your bottom line now and will continue to do so well into the future.
It is estimated that 43 percent of the NBA’s audience is under the age of 35 (millennials). The NBA has one of the youngest and culturally diverse fans of all sports leagues. According to a study done by Nielsen, Univision and SMG (The Bilingual Brain), Hispanic millennials (ages 21-34) represent 20 percent of the U.S. youth. So, if you really want to win over the millennials, you need to win with Hispanics.
A good portion of NBA Hispanic fans are bilingual and bi-cultural. Many of the Hispanic viewers watch NBA games in English but read about the game in Spanish. To cater to this bilingual audience, the NBA has partnered with ESPN Deportes and Univision to broadcast the games and have access to the latest news and results digitally. The NBA also uses its website and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to connect with their Hispanic fans. The NBA celebrates “Noche Latina” in March as a way to recognize and give back to its loyal fans.
If you really want your team to score big with Hispanics, keep the following plays in mind:
• Understand your audience: According to Nielsen, 43 percent of Hispanics feel loyalty toward sports sponsorships and 41 percent are inclined to buy products offered by the sponsors.
• Live the fan experience: 75 percent of Hispanics have purchased sports-related merchandise within the last 12 months compared to 62 percent of non-Hispanics.
• Embrace technology: Hispanics tend to use mobile devices to watch sports-related content. In fact, 24 percent of Hispanics use a tablet to watch sports content while 27 percent view content on a smartphone, compared with 12 percent and 15 percent among non-Hispanics.
It is estimated that one in five people are Hispanic in the U.S., and that number will increase to one in three by 2050. That means your business growth — today and in the future — not only will depend on how well you embrace minorities, but also on how well you connect with your fans.
Rob Manfred's reign as the 10th commissioner of Major League Baseball will begin in earnest Sunday night with the first pitch of the regular season. The 56-year-old former lawyer, who has worked for the league about half his life, is putting "pace of play"—or speeding up games so they average less than three hours in an era of fast-moving digital consumption—near the forefront of his agenda.
For the first time, MLB is requiring hitters to keep one foot in the batter's box—with some exceptions to the rule—and is attempting to limit the time between innings to two minutes, 25 seconds. Baseball staffers will keep a sharp eye on pitchers' time usage, issuing warnings and fines to the worst loiterers on the mound. The league is also testing a pitch clock at the minor-league level.
"I don't have in my head that I want to go from 3:02 [three hours and two minutes] to 2:58 or 2:50—I have no particular number in mind," Manfred, a native of Rome, N.Y., told Adweek. "At the end of the year, I hope that knowledgeable observers and fans know that it wasn't radical, but the games just seemed a little crisper."
What does this mean for big-spending MLB sponsors like Budweiser, General Motors and Pepsi? Ultimately, that Manfred and his team are after the same idea as they are, aiming for better engagement with smartphone-toting fans who will waste little time before moving on to another interactive option.
We chatted with the new commish about marketing-related topics: hiring the league's first Hispanic agency of record in LatinWorks; the perception that baseball has faded from national prominence; and what digital consumerism means to the future of hardball. In addition, while Manfred didn't explicitly say so, the fact that MLB's executive leader is now calling New York City home—as opposed to Milwaukee, the base of outgoing commissioner Bud Selig—should bode well for the game's relationship with Madison Avenue.
Adweek: Is MLB, under your stewardship this season, taking a different marketing approach to create more viewers and sell more tickets? Rob Manfred: We made a bunch of changes actually. We hired two new agencies, Anomaly, and then LatinWorks, which is [running our most comprehensive] Hispanic-focused marketing effort. More generally our approach tends to take a long-term view about the growth of the game that's focused on youth. Our research suggests that there are two biggest determinants of [fandom]: Did you play the game as a kid? And how old were you when your parents took you to the ballpark for the first time? So, we're focusing on youth participation, which is obviously a long-term investment. But we're also running a number of programs and promotions directed at encouraging parents and grandparents to take kids to the ballpark.
About the Hispanic-focused effort: Will it manifest entirely in the U.S., or will it also entail Caribbean countries and other regions? We have a very diverse workforce, and we believe that, with some additional emphasis in this space, we can increase the diversity in our fan base. It's an important outreach effort for us in terms of growth of the game. We see both Mexico and the Caribbean as principle points of focus in terms of the internationalization of the game. Obviously, Mexico and other countries in the Caribbean have baseball ingrained as part of their culture, and you feel that those are opportunities that are really right for us.
Will you deal differently with media/advertising partners than Bud Selig? I don't love the idea of drawing broad characterizations to my predecessor. Obviously we're very close—I worked for him for a very long time. I would say that my style is to be actively engaged with our major media and advertising partners. You know, I'm here in New York instead of in Milwaukee. I like to have personal relationships with our major partners. I'm an ongoing-dialogue person, on the theory that I'm always looking for opportunities to help them and for opportunities for them to help us.
There is a perception out there that baseball is increasingly niche. It's interesting. I hear this all the time: the niche localization of the game. Let me make a couple of points here. You know, our local activity is tremendously strong. I think there were 11 markets last year where the top-rated summer programming was Major League Baseball. And given that all of our games, I mean, think about it, virtually every game is available on television. So the idea that fans are going to follow their local team, as opposed to a game involving two teams from another market, is hardly surprising. I think the biggest challenge for us over the season is to take our massive local interest and transfer as much of [it] as you possibly can into our postseason.
The 2014 Kansas City Royals storyline, of course, is the kind of thing that almost everyone wants. You put your finger right on it. That story was spontaneous. There was so much interest in the narrative surrounding Kansas City that it really helped in terms of the excitement and the draw of our postseason. What we're working on is to see if we can help those stories develop over the course of the season so that we don't have to rely on getting lucky and having the Kansas City type of story.
Let's move on to interactive. MLB has been Web-streaming games for several years. What are the digital areas in which the league could raise the bar? The most important and immediate concern is—[while] we stream outside our local markets—we are not currently streaming games in market. We're having conversations with the [regional sports networks] and the major distributors in an effort to rectify that situation.
Is that so important because of that cord-cutting movement going on with younger generations? No, from our perspective, it's not about the cable model and cord-cutting. It's about providing our fans with maximum access to our games on any device.
Consumers are gravitating toward mobile devices. Is that a challenge or an opportunity for your league? Oh, it's a huge opportunity for us. Our presence with MLB.com and MLB Advanced Media [video] on mobile, it's a huge strength in this industry. It's a strength that will continue to go on and go forward.
Do you think that league marketers are doing a good enough job with social? Well, I think social media is a space that we need to continue to work on. You know, our principle efforts with respect to the pure marketing of the game are going to be player-focused. We're at an interesting spot from the generational perspective—the Derek Jeter generation has kind of moved on, and we're going to be making a conscious effort to market the new stars of the game—the Mike Trouts, the Clayton Kershaws and Andrew McCutchens. Those folks are great players and great young people, and that's going to be a principle focus of our marketing efforts. Social is important, obviously, particularly with younger players who kind of carry younger fans.
Bud Selig once said he doesn't use email and never will. How about you, Rob? [Laughter.] That is, like, the funniest. You know what? I am the original plugged-in guy. I carry two iPads, an iPhone ... I mean, that stuff, it gets a lot of work when I'm here.
The Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks, @LosDbacks) launched their Hispanic-community focused marketing campaign in 2015 with the goal of embracing the Hispanic community as one. The tagline “Somos Hispanos. Somos D-backs.” translates to “We are Hispanic. We are D-backs.” and will be featured in several print, television and radio spots and will have a strong social media integration that highlights Hispanic players and fans.
“This campaign is about embracing the Hispanic community and letting everyone know they have an open invitation to come out to Chase Field to experience our affordable, family-friendly environment,” said D-backs President and CEO Derrick Hall. “More importantly, we hope to continue to make an impact in our Hispanic community and establish a culture of diversity in everything we do. We want to motivate our fans to be an active part of our team and establish a love for the D-backs that will continue to grow.”
The first commercial, which features Venezuelan David Peralta, Mexican Oliver Perez and Cuban Yasmany Tomas can be viewed here and will air throughout the marketplace.
The D-backs have long been committed to the Hispanic community and since 2008, the D-backs have worn their alternative black jerseys with “Los D-backs” across the front on Hispanic Heritage Day, creating a tradition of honoring their Hispanic players, fans and community. Last season, Latin pop star Cristian Castro performed a postgame concert at Hispanic Heritage Day that was attended by more than 10,000 people.
New this season, the D-backs will host two Los D-backs Fiesta de la Familia events, presented by Fry's Food Stores, for fans on April 12 and 26 at Chase Field. The family-friendly street festival outside Chase Field is free and will provide fans with the opportunity to enjoy multicultural pregame entertainment. The D-backs will also continue the popular Sanderson Ford Cronista Infantil program that provides children the chance to show their talents behind the microphone on Spanish radio once a month alongside broadcasters Óscar Soria and Rodrigo López. All 162 regular season games are broadcast in Spanish on KSUN 1400 AM with Soria serving as play-by-play announcer and Lopez as an analyst. The D-backs are one of just a small group of Major League teams to send their Spanish-language broadcasters on the road with the team.
In 2013, the D-backs introduced the D-backs Luchador as a community ambassador and representative of the team who speaks both Spanish and English and represents a character that you would find at a Lucha Libre match. Also in 2013, the D-backs created a Sonoran-style hot dog that is available at every home game and has become popular with fans of all backgrounds.
The D-backs will play an exhibition game this Sunday, March 29, against the Colorado Rockies in Hermosillo, Mexico. The team has a long-standing history in Hermosillo, having played exhibition games there on nine different occasions (1998-2003, ‘08-10) and has made six visits during the past three years to Hermosillo. Most recently, the D-backs led a contingent of representatives from the Arizona-Mexico Commission on a goodwill trip to Hermosillo in November, hosting a clinic for youngsters and speaking to hundreds of university students at an exposition. The D-backs have also hosted Mexican League teams three times at Chase Field and the World Baseball Classic twice (2006 & 2013).
The D-backs currently have five Latin American countries represented in big league camp: Mexico (Pérez and Walter Ibarra), Venezuela (Peralta and Endar Inciarte), Cuba (Tomas and Yoan López), Panama (Randall Delgado and Enrique Burgos) and the Dominican Republic (Rubby De la Rosa). The team also recently added to the front office with the hiring of a Manager of Hispanic and Emerging Markets.
The National Basketball Association and Univision Deportes are teaming on a new partnership that will provide content across the U.S. Spanish-language media leader’s platforms, as well as marketing activations around marquee league events.
Under the partnership, financial terms of which were not disclosed, Univision Deportes this week will tip off a customized version of NBA Action, which currently airs on NBA TV, and initiate a one-hour weekly show, Zona NBA, featuring Hispanic-centric pro hoops content, with the 2015 postseason.
The new agreement also features Univision Deportes and the NBA unveiling enhanced co-branded éne•bé•a web and mobile sites, launching in September, that build on éne•bé•a, the league’s first fully integrated Hispanic marketing campaign.
Marketing activations are also on tap, with grass root activities expected to become part of the media mix around All-Star Weekend, the playoffs and The Finals.
According to the parties, Hispanics currently represent 18% of the NBA’s fan base, outpacing the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population by 38% since 2008. During March and early April, the league is hosting its ninth annual Latin nights (Noches éne•bé•a), the NBA’s commemorative uniform program that recognizes the growing support of NBA fans and players across Latin America and U.S. Hispanic communities.
Bilingual U.S. Latinos consume content in general and NBA fare in particular in both Spanish and English, an attractive combo for the league. “This partnership with Univision is going to further engage our growing Hispanic fan base and serve to broaden the NBA’s appeal across multiple platforms,” said Aldo DiCuffa, the NBA’s senior vice president of programming.
Eric Conrad, vice president of sports programming at Univision, said that dialog took place over the past year in shaping the partnership. “They were very easy discussions based on their objectives to reach more Latino fans with the U.S. Spanish-language media leader and ours, which is to always diversify our portfolio with the right properties.”
Conrad noted that Spanish-language services tend to draw younger viewers overall and that Univision properties connect with the 18-to-49 set, centering around those about 35.
Over the years, NBA clubs have been bolstering their rosters with Hispanic players. DiCuffa said currently there are 17 Latino players in the league, including the Gasol brothers, Memphis’ Marc and Chicago’s Pau, Atlanta’s Al Horford and San Antonio’s Manu Ginobli (pictured), among them. There are also a half-dozen U.S.-born Latinos. “There is a deep connection with the Latino players,” said DiCuffa. “Hispanic fans identify with these players.”
Cable service Univision Deportes Network will offer fans NBA Action, the weekly basketball show that will be customized in Spanish, beginning on Thursday, March 26. Zona NBA will feature a mix of Univision hosts, current and former players and coaches, plus guests. Although its premiere will be simulcast on UniMas and UDN, the cable will be home to encore airings. He said segments “in shorter bursts than the one-hour show format,” will also be made available digitally.
The show, he said, will begin via remote set-ups during the upcoming postseason.
Conrad noted that the aforementioned players and their teams all will be participating in the playoffs, perhaps in The Finals. With Zona’s position at the venues and around the court, fans will be able to get closer.
“Speaking in-language, the players are more likely to open up and be more personal,” he said. “That’s what our audience wants.”
In a move akin to Turner Sports handling things on the digital side, Univision Deportes will run and administrate the éne•bé•a domestic Spanish-language destinations on the web and mobile sites, which will manifest to fans in September. The properties will proffer the latest basketball news, including blogs by Latino NBA players, extensive video highlights, photo galleries and interactive fan content, among other offerings.
“We will be feeding Univision Deportes content that they will be able to customize for Spanish,” said DiCuffa, noting the sports unit will “produce, create, maintain and host the new web sites,”
The multipronged partnership, which Univision will be trumpeting during its upfront presentations to advertisers, could be a prelude to bigger things to come.
Asked if Univision was looking to further up its game, Conrad replied: "We’re always interested in live sports rights. This is a starting point.”
If you're on your couch tonight and you're trying to find the Union's game against FC Dallas on TV, you're going to have to look in a place you might not expect.
The matchup will be broadcast exclusively on UniMás, a Spanish-language channel owned by Univision, and the network's Univision Deportes cable channel. Although Univision has had a long relationship with Major League Soccer, this year - for the first time in league history - the Spanish-language national broadcasts won't be accompanied by English-language broadcasts on local channels for the teams involved.
You will be able to watch the game in English, though, by using the SAP button on your remote control
As part of a new 8-year, $720 million rights deal that Univision, ESPN and Fox signed with MLS, Univision hired English-language announcers to provide a secondary audio feed for all of its MLS broadcasts.
It was a huge step for a league that aspires to have as many fútbol fans as it does soccer fans.
As a player in Chicago and Los Angeles, Union manager Jim Curtin witnessed firsthand the evolution of MLS' relationship with Hispanic fans. Now he has a close-up view o fthe game's growth in the Philadelphia region. The Oreland native lives near the Italian Market, where a growing Mexican immigrant community has blossomed in recent years.
"There's certainly a lot of Mexican fans there who are dialed into our team - probably more than some people would believe," Curtin said.
Another key component of Univision's MLS broadcast schedule is the network's exclusivity on Friday nights. The only Friday games all year are contests shown on Univision networks.
Combine that with the Sunday games on ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1, and there's a recipe for MLS to finally solve one of its biggest problems: chronically low television ratings.
It may sound simple, but this season is the first in MLS' 20-year history when every nationally televised game hasn't had to battle for viewers with other games at the same hour. The league has already seen dividends, with big increases in viewership so far this year relative to past seasons.
"The first weekend, that's all my meathead football friends talked about - how much MLS was on TV," Curtin said.
Tonight, Curtin's team will be in the national spotlight as it hosts a team with plenty of Latin flair. Dallas midfielders Mauro Díaz and Fabián Castillo are dynamic creators, and big striker Blas Pérez is a perennial pest.
"Blas Pérez is kind of in the Carlos Ruiz mode," Curtin said, referring to the former Union striker and not the Phillies catcher. "He's difficult to play against, he's physical, but you'd love him on your team because he scores big goals."
He certainly does. Pérez had led Dallas in scoring each of the last two seasons, with 11 in both campaigns. Three of his goals last year were game-winners.
As the Union look to counter with some attacking threats of their own, they'll have to prepare without two of their most important players. One is playmaking midfielder Cristian Maidana, who injured a leg in practice Tuesday and is out for 2 to 4 weeks. The other is striker C.J. Sapong, who suffered a concussion and a broken cheekbone in the Union's season opener. He's out for longer, and doesn't have a certain return date yet.
Along with the two injuries, the Union have sent winger Danny Cruz on a loan to Norwegian club FK Bodø/Glimt for the rest of 2015. It's bad timing because of the injury list, but the deal has been in the works for a while.
"As I embark on this new journey I want you to know that I have genuinely enjoyed playing at PPL Park in front of all of you," Cruz wrote in a message to fans posted on Twitter. "There will always be a special place in my heart for you all and this club."
It'll help Cruz's acclimation that he won't be the only American at Bodø/Glimt. The club happens to be the home of Lancaster native Zarek Valentin, who used to play for the Montréal Impact.
"Hopefully when he comes back, he'll be better than ever," Curtin said. "It was a hard decision for sure because he is a spark off the bench, but we have some young players that are coming up now, too, and I think it was the best move for him and the Union."
One of those young players is midfielder Zach Pfeffer. The Dresher native is the leading candidate to start in Maidana's absence, especially after a solid performance as a substitute last weekend.
"Zach Pfeffer has really risen to the occasion," Curtin said. "He's a guy that I can throw wide right, wide left [or] centrally as the No. 10."