Marketing the Hogs | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marketing the Hogs

Posted By on Mon, Apr 13, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Robert Shields, who distributes a weekly sports column mostly focused on Razorback sports, isn't happy with the new-era Hog athletic department, at least as far as some new marketing gimmicks are concerned. Specifically, he's griping about e-mails auctioning memorabilia and such things as sideline passes for Red-White scrimmages, and about bringing in outside groups for halftime entertainment.

I think this may be the tip of a bigger issue about outsourcing of certain tickets sales and advertising at Hog events to an outside company. It's all about making more money. All the big schools do it, of course. More money means new facilities, top-shelf salaries for coaches, etc. Frank Broyles wasn't a bad marketer himself. The question, I guess, is whether there is such a thing as too much commercialism when it comes to college sports.

Robert's column on the jump.

BY ROBERT SHIELDS

The Drive for Money From the UofA Wallet Keepers
 
Robert Shields
 
This needs to be said first before I tear into the college where I graduated and the college’s team that I cover in this column -- I don’t think the University of Arkansas operates much differently than any other school in the SEC trying to make a buck. So, even though I am about to pick on the UofA, consider this a general indictment of sports in the SEC and other points of interest where cash rules everything.
 
I am sure some of you get the e-mails from the UofA’s “Razor Mail” (some refer to them as spam when they are nothing but an ad for Dodge trucks). Whatever exactly “Razor Mail” is, I don’t know, but these e-mails are sent from a marketing company in Florida (I guess no one in Arkansas could do the job up to these high graphic standards set by JumpTV Sports). With these e-mails the UofA auctions off all kinds of things from autographed balls to sideline passes to the Red-White scrimmage.
 
Why someone would be willing to pay a minimum bid of $350 to go to the sideline at a Red-White game is beyond me. There are several people on the sidelines at these games that have to be paid to even get them there in the first place. (Note to self: apply for sideline pass from the sports information department for upcoming Red-White game and then auction it off on eBay for less than what the UofA is pushing it for).
 
My question is, who bids on this stuff? It’s not like the Vatican selling off relics of Saint Nicholas. I assume some of the stuff they are auctioning off as memorabilia, had it any real worth, would be in a display case at Razorback Stadium. Otherwise, I can‘t wait until they auction off that crystal dish with the Spirit of Barnhill that was supposedly transferred to Bud Walton. (Going off script here for a minute, if I were king of the sports program, the basketball team would be demoted back to Barnhill next season until it proves it can have a winning season in the SEC. The gymnastics team or whatever Razorchick sports are now in there can go play in the HPER building.)
 
I guess that someone keeps buying this stuff, so the UofA keeps auctioning it off. I get collecting some things like George Washington’s tent at the Battle of Yorktown or the bones of Santa Claus. I get the significance of it. I get the importance of it. I understand without the victory with the help of General Rochambeau at Yorktown that I am still bowing to the Queen of England, but instead I cook chili dogs on the Fourth of July. I get the significance of Gettysburg that if the Confederates would have taken Little Round Top and been able to shell the Union line maybe we would no longer be living under Constitutional law. The UofA, though, thinks some of this junk like a bench or a jersey someone on the softball team wore is worth hundreds of dollars. I don‘t get that like the historical stuff.
 
I made a decision many years ago that I would not let sports affect the way I think or act. This decision came from the epiphany I had after a former great Razorback football player talked to me after a disappointing loss. The loss had affected my day and my demeanor adversely on that day. The ex-player said in no uncertain terms “that if my happiness is dependent upon a bunch of 18-year-olds then I am going to go through life very disappointed.”
 
This moment of truth brings me to today and asking why anyone would want any of this auctioned memorabilia. Are you planning on opening your own strange museum of unimportant items, or are you certain this is the thing that gets you over the top and gets you the date with that girl by having this in your apartment?
 
Lastly on this spam attack from the UofA in its e-mailings about its sports opportunities, you probably have also been noticing all the advertisements for other promotions going on at Razorback sporting events. When did it become necessary to have a group at halftime called “Quick Change” in order to get people to a Razorback basketball game? What is next, Up with People? Are you buying a ticket to see your Hogs play, or as it has come to be that you’re paying money to be entertained and that includes acts like Quick Change? I understand why the Twisters do some shenanigans, but I guess the UofA has reached the same point with its fan base.
 
I hope that I keep getting these fanciful e-mails because the material is rich and given enough of them it will provide enough material for another column.
 
All this has given me an idea to auction off my own Razorback paraphernalia that I have received or collected over the years. My collection contains autographed hats by Frank Broyles pre-Springdale debacle, basketballs autographed by Joe Johnson and Nolan Richardson, and a couple of other items that were given to me as an adult. From my childhood collection, I have an autograph of Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph, Roland Sales, Ron Calcagni, Kevin Scanlon, and a host of others. Also, I have a complete newspaper scrap album of the Hogs’ venture into the Final Four for Eddie Sutton’s first trip.
 
The question is, can I get more for the triplets autographs together or individually? eBay store to open soo

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