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  • Isabella Jiao
    Isabella JiaoWritter Apr 18, 2020 25 min read
    Isabella Jiao
    Isabella JiaoWritter
    Apr 18, 2020 25 min

    Ep. 40: Engaging The Fluid Fan with Josh Walker

    In each episode of The GameDay Playbook presented by FanFood, Rob Cressy discusses how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate gameday more efficiently.

    josh walker sports innovation lab
    Josh Walker, Co-Founder and President at Sports Innovation Lab, joins Rob Cressy to talk about engaging the Fluid Fan. With fans allegiances changing and there being more choices than ever, how can teams, leagues, and brands best engage them? How has the rise of following players plus direct connection to them impacted the value? How is sports technology being used to engage fans through tech and data? What emerging technologies should you be paying attention to?
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    Rob Cressy: (00:04)

    Welcome to the GameDay playbook presented by FanFood, a discussion around how leaders are transforming the sports and live entertainment industry by leveraging technology to enhance the fan experience and operate game day more efficiently. I'm your host Rob Cressy and joining me today is Josh Walker Co-Founder and President at Sports Innovation Lab. Josh, great to have you on the show. 

    Josh Walker: (00:30)

    Likewise Rob, great to be here. 

    Rob Cressy: (00:32)

    Can you give a quick overview on who you are and what you do? 

    Josh Walker: (00:37)

    I am the co-founder and president of the Sports Innovation Lab. We are a market research and data firm that's in Boston. The company is really originated and founded on the idea that we're going to help the industry really think about the next generation of fans. Our soapbox and the research that we put out is really around the concept that the diehard fan, the fan that we all traditionally think of in the industry. As you know, the person who will sit in the seat, no matter what, watch a four-hour game, put a Brown bag on their head if their team is losing and just be loyal till the day they die is really not the path to growth for this industry. That there's a new type of fan we call the fluid fan, which really enjoys sports through multiple platforms, multiple media, multiple experiences. A lot of it's social, a lot of it's on social media and we focus on helping the industry really tailor the product, the experience, and sports to the fluid fan so that they can grow their businesses in the future. 

    Rob Cressy: (01:38)

    I love this concept and what we're going to Jim and better, two things, we're going to dig deeper on the fluid fan and then the intersection of how technology can be leveraged to help engage these fans. So let's get to the fluid fan. And I loved the way that you described it because you actually described me because as sports have evolved with media and content, what we've really been given is a lot more options for our attention. In our dollars and in our entertainment right now. So I grew up in Pittsburgh, so I'm a diehard Steelers fan. I'm a diehard Penguins fan and I've lived in Chicago for the last 10 years. Growing up I loved the Pittsburgh Pirates. I was there when Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke, but then they went on an over 20-year consecutive losing streak. And you know what? I started to evaluate where I was spending my time. Baseball was a 162 game sport. The pirates were traditionally one of the lowest payroll teams and they did not spend money and the product on the field did not reflect a team that was worth my attention. So fast forward to, I'm living in Chicago in the complete opposite happened. What happened? The Ricketts would say, you know what? Going to do a winning product for the Chicago Cubs. So all of a sudden I'm going into more Cubs games. The Cubs are on TV all the time. Then the Cubs start making the playoffs and through all of this, I'm watching the Cubs. Like, I'm a fan because living in Chicago, I'm always rooting for their teams. I'm a bulls fan. I'm a Blackhawks fan. I'm a Cubs fan and it just so happens I met the owner of the Cubs during one of their playoff runs and then the Cubs go and they win the world series. I'm there to experience one of the most Epic events ever and Guess what? 

    Josh Walker: (03:35)

    I saw that video of you at the after-party, you were enjoying yourself. 

    Rob Cressy: (03:39)

    I was very much enjoying myself. Here's what I realized, The Cubs in a short period of time treated me so much better than the pirates ever did. I met the owner, he was a great guy. He was super nice. He talked to us. I got to experience multiple playoff wins and world series wins. I ended up writing an article that said, I will no longer be giving my attention to the Pittsburgh Pirates. I am making the Cubs, my number one team because of the ownership of the pirates. I got a lot of flack from it. But here's the thing, I don't really care what anybody thinks in terms of my decision about this because I'm the fluid fan and I am going to audit how brands treat me or engage me right now. If they don't hold up their end of the bargain, then guess what? There's no room for my attention there. 

    Josh Walker: (04:36)

    Yeah, I mean, look, that's a very specific example of the fluid fan concept. It's so much bigger than just team loyalty. It's really about where you spend your entertainment dollars. We all live in an attention economy and the leaders that we work with and the Sports Innovation Lab has cultivated leaders from across the industry. Whether they're brands that want to reach consumers like you or whether the teams and properties that need to create valuable media that they can sell the broadcasters with media rights contracts or whether it's literally a lot of the technology companies that want to get into sports so that they can demonstrate the capabilities of their products. This whole industry is changing and what's changing is the idea that you have a choice now and it's not just because you moved, right? It does not just because you went to a different market. It's literally the fact that you could be raising your kids and they could be watching Premier League Soccer now on NBC and that wasn't available to them when they were younger. They can now flip on Twitch and they can watch e-sports and that wasn't available to them when they were younger. So the industry has really rested on this concept of loyalty and diehard fandom for years, decades. Now they're starting to realize that they're an entertainment product just like everything else and that their competitors aren't the other sports town. There are other media platforms, there are other entertainment options. So your story would be just as relevant if you said, I was tired of watching the pirates and I'm going to start binge-watching Netflix and that's what I'm going to spend my time doing. That is also fluid fandom. 

    Josh Walker: (06:12)

    That's the idea that you can use the definition of a fluid fan is that you're empowered to choose. You're continuously evolving and you have more choice than you've ever had before. I think that defines all of us, the mistake would be to think that this is just a young generation. It's all of us. If you look at the way that your parents, the older generation are starting to use their cell phones, curating their viewing experience, they'll sit there and watch TV while they have their laptop open and they're checking things on their phone. I think that that really forces the industry to rethink how they make and create their products. 

    Rob Cressy: (06:48)

    And with that, I think there's also another layer on terms of consumers being fans of players and maybe not necessarily teams. So you look at the LeBron James of the world, when someone is so good or Steph Curry, you're like, listen, I don't have to be from Oakland or San Francisco to appreciate watching the Warriors and Steph Curry and the same thing with LeBron. So now you're starting to see fans who love the brand of LeBron James and follow him on all social media platforms and then they'll go through that journey of the life cycle there. And they're not necessarily as worried about the team side of things because the entertainment comes from, I want to support LeBron James. 

    Josh Walker: (07:30)

    You're exactly right. And we have a whole track of our research that follows the influence of athlete-driven media and how these athletes are becoming media distribution channels in and of themselves. So the idea that you could leave one market and go to another, your fans will go with you. And that was unheard of when I was a kid. You were a Yankees fan for life and now you know, it's, it's understandable and normal for those players to move around, but it's also much more relatable when you feel like you have a direct connection with them, whether it's through Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, whatever the platform is, you feel like you know that player because you're seeing their private life, you're following their nutrition plan. Maybe you even work out with them or you know you've had a challenge with them on Tik Tok, whatever it is, you feel so much more affinity with that individual than you do with the brand of a team.  

    Click me

    Rob Cressy: (08:22)

    So now actually I love the way that you phrased that because we all want to get closer to any brand athlete person that is out there. So what can teams and leagues do more of to mimic the types of things that we're seeing with LeBron? So for example, I would love right now in our current landscape for us to be able to do a workout with the head trainer of the Pittsburgh Steelers for example into really help leverage one of the things that you guys mentioned, digital fan to be able to make me feel a part of the organization in giving those opportunities and not just thinking it as where this team and we're on Mount Pius up here and the rest of our fans are down there. But the real integration of them in giving those opportunities to build that brand heartbeat and relationship and interaction.

    Josh Walker: (09:17)

    I think it all comes down to accessibility. I think one of the things that, you know, this industry has been very good at is doing rights-protected content. When they carve out rights and they don't let their fans touch the footage, create highlights, talk to the players, watch the players in their uniform outside of the field, it becomes limiting in sort of what those players and athletes can do. We're talking about LeBron, we're talking about staff, we're talking about these big names, but there are thousands of other athletes that have access to these same platforms, but because they don't have access to the same assets, whether it's the sponsors, the branded kits, the whatever it is that they can start relating with those, with those younger fans, they have a harder time building their own following on social media and things of that nature. I think for a long time the league sort of viewed that as you know, look, you play for us, you're an employee for us. This is not your opportunity to build your brand. I think that's a complete rethink for this industry to say the more popular you become, the more popular sport becomes, the more money we all make. You're seeing that happen now in a much stronger way across multiple, multiple properties and globally as well. 

    Rob Cressy: (10:29)

    And I think two great examples of this. The first was when Lonzo ball was at UCLA and then you look at Zion at Duke, you have two players coming in as freshmen who have larger social media followings. Then the schools that they are going to themselves. So all of a sudden there is a different leverage point and/or value proposition being like, listen, I know why I'm going to UCLA or Duke, but by the way, you can't ignore the fact that Zion and Lonzo have a million followers going into this. 

    Josh Walker: (11:03)

    Yeah. I mean Zion developed that following on a platform that really didn't exist five years ago, which was Overtime, which is one of those accessibility platforms, they started to build their brand when they let young people shoot highlights and footage in the gyms of the high schools across the nation with their cell phones and upload those and feel like producers and feel like they were creating their own sports zone. That level of connection between the young fans, spotting talent, raising talent to the eyeballs and everybody else makes them much more invested in that media. Then basically turning on your television. 

    Rob Cressy: (11:40)

    So one thing that I know you guys also talk about is operating with urgency and clarity. I think it's a very difficult thing as I look at the market itself because traditionally larger companies are slow, they're not nimble, they're not always the most forward-thinking in the world. But as I look at the current landscape that we're in right now, that teams, leagues, companies, everyone are trying to figure out how do we pivot? how do we continue to engage? How do we continue to build? What is the next way that we can build these communities with fans? While there is an urgency there, I don't know if I'm seeing the teams, leagues, brands operating with that same urgency that we as fans feel. So right now I'm someone who I only watch sports like 100% of the time. I watch sports right now my TV hasn't been on for a month because sports aren't on TV and there's nothing to fill that void for me because I'm not about to go down what other rabbit holes there are there. So can you talk a little bit about what can be done to, for these teams, leagues, brands to have a little bit more urgency, but on the action side of things where it's not just we feel it but they're actually leading it 

    Josh Walker: (12:57)

    Yeah. Well, I mean look, this is as everybody has said, a very difficult time to even just let these executives and these leaders take care of their families and take care of themselves. So we have to go through the normal period of grief and recovery and emotional things that have to happen to us as people. But we just did an AMA yesterday with Bernadette McGlade, who's the commissioner of the A10. I asked her this question. I said, when are you ready to start to move forward and start solving problems or creating new opportunities because there has to be a period where we say, okay, we're done processing some of this information that's overwhelmed us and now we need to start moving forward because this too will pass. This will be a moment in time hopefully, that we don't have to revisit over and over again over the next two years or so and I think the urgency that you're talking about is really starting to come to the forefront. I hate to think of it as the silver lining of this thing, but this really shocked the system. There are people that talk about a blackout or a hiatus for sports. I have a personal distaste for that language because we're not going offline. We're not taking a vacation. What we're really trying to do now is rethink why we weren't in a position to continue to engage our fans with media that would have been a least an authentic way to keep our fans distracted from the world that they're living in right now. I think you see NASCAR, what NASCAR has done, they've got a lot of press for the iRacing thing by bringing in their NASCAR cup track drivers and doing the simulation stuff. 

    Josh Walker: (14:35)

    They were in a position to do that, Rob because they had built some of that into their culture. E-sports wasn't this thing that like set off as like an adjunct as a way to reach the kids or the next generation of fans. It was part of the way that they train their drivers and that they recruited talent. So it grew into the culture of auto racing. What you saw happen with 2K and the NBA or what you see happen with Madden and the NFL. It's seen as this other thing, right? So the urgency is to start bringing those cultures together. Don't let the E-sports teams sit over there, live in another house, train over there, run their events separately. Get those people co-mingling, learn from them, learn what the hell they're doing when they say they're streaming, right? It's not linear broadcast, it's streaming and those things can coexist. They don't have to be separate. We have a lot of research that I think is going to come out in the next year that's going to really light a fire under this piece of urgency to take the broadcast and integrate it with the digital stuff in a much more meaningful way so that they're not seen as separate teams or separate initiatives. 

    Rob Cressy: (15:45)

    I love the way that you framed it because it does make complete sense to me. And I would like to think, is this going to hopefully lead a positive culture shift? Whereas we reevaluate, when's the best time to plant a tree a year ago? What's the next best time right now? So now we get to reevaluate and you learn from the NASCARs of the world who have had this forward-thinking approach to things because all of a sudden we've realized, wow, we are vulnerable in this one instance and it would have been great if we'd been working on this before, but we were focused on some other things and really understanding the fan is engaging. The fan wants to continue to be a part of all of this because I think as a fan, what I miss the most is the community. I love being on sports Twitter, whether I'm talking about the NBA, NFL, baseball, NHL, UFC, you name it. I enjoy talking sports with others. I enjoy interacting with brands and I think one of the biggest challenges I've always had is brands aren't always responding back to us. A large majority of the engagement happens on a fan to fan level, but rarely am I hitting up a sports media publisher who hits me back up being like, Rob, we got you. Or a team like that. I know there's an enormity in terms of the size of some of these teams, leagues, brands where it may be a bit of a challenge to respond to everyone. I would hope that there'd be a culture shift of being a little bit more forward-thinking or a little bit more empathetic to the fan and really think of it as all right if we were marketing to ourselves if we're that target demographic, what would we want to see and how can we play in now for what we may need in the future? 

    Josh Walker: (17:30)

    Yeah, the NBA gets a lot of credit for being one of the quote-unquote most innovative leagues. If you see in the last week or two, there's some news out that they've appointed a woman to take over a job of a VP of fan marketing and so by name, that role sounds like it's a step forward. Right. And when we talk to some of the organizations that are out there, the ones that are doing the best job really do have a fan experience executive. They have somebody that's focused on the fan experience that thinks through the fan experience. But what you're pointing to I think is larger, which is that this has always been seen as an ROI calculation, which is what are we going to get back if we do this or where's the monetization strategy around this and your pointing out that perhaps the monetization strategy is an insurance policy for things like this when there's a strike or there's a terrorism attack or there's something that throws sports off its game. I would like to think that it's more of an integrated marketing strategy and fan engagement strategy that really caters to the behaviors that those fans really want to enjoy. You talked about talking with other fans. Maybe your jam is to like talk trash and you know, have a little bit of comparative analysis on who's the best player. You like to use some advanced statistics. Maybe you're on Reddit, maybe you're over here, but some other fans might just want to watch replays and you know, talk about how that game was so awesome 10 years ago and just relive moments. And each fan is different and we all draw from sports, different emotions and different needs. And I think the leagues have a very rudimentary idea of what those fans want. More importantly, they don't have the technology to cater to each of those behaviors. They're still using a blunt object to just be like, Hey, here's sports and when it's not live sports, that's a problem. 

    Rob Cressy: (19:24)

    So that's actually a great segue to the technology side of things and the ability to use technology to better engage fans through tech and data. So what can be done for these teams and leagues to use emerging technology to keep sports relevant? 

    Click me

    Josh Walker: (19:43)

    Well, the first thing we say is to stop talking about technology for technology's sake. Don't use buzzwords like 5G and computer vision and machine learning and all that stuff. It's not helpful. If somebody is throwing around those terms or those acronyms, they're just trying to look smart. They probably don't even know why they're using that technology or why you should care about it. So the way to ground yourself and your way to ground your organization around what you need to do is to do what we were just talking about, which is to think about fan behavior. The research we put out this year was about don't talk about fan engagement. Fan engagement is this broad term that means everything. And if something means everything, it means nothing. So we help our clients basically do an audit of their fans and their business so that we ask what behaviors drive your revenue? And that's a hard exercise. If you ask, if I asked you, Rob, what behavior drives your business, you would say, well, when people listen to my podcast and then they get engaged and like you could start to think about it. But for them it's like, well I want them to buy a ticket. Is that a fan behavior? Okay, well if buying a ticket is the thing that drives your entire business and how are you using technology to drive that behavior? Then people will say, well, it's not even just buying the ticket. It's making sure they show up. So we don't have a bunch of no shows in our and our arenas empty. Well then if no shows are your problem and you really need people to show up, that's a behavior. How do we really cater to that behavior and use technology to do that? Maybe you use Uber or Lyft, rideshare, maybe you work out some sort of deal with public transportation to make sure people have a much easier time of getting there. If no show is the behavior, showing up is the thing you want them to do. Focus on that and use technology to optimize that behavior. So when you go through this exercise and you really hone in on what behavior drives your business, you have a much better sense of what technologies optimize or enable that behavior. 

    Rob Cressy: (21:35)

    Are there technologies that you're aware of now or that are on your mind that you can share with us of, Hey, start looking at what else is out there in the market from a sports technology standpoint? 

    Josh Walker: (21:49)

    Well, I can certainly tell you that this entire situation has brought to the forefront of the opportunity to create virtual sports. So when I think about how you have to create virtual sports and how you create what we're calling convergent media, which is the idea of taking linear broadcast and merging it with a digital experience, there are all kinds of things like augmented reality would make it more feasible to create a virtual environment for your fans that couldn't be somewhere or to make that physical environment enriched with digital experiences. You're looking at the whole idea of sports betting as a behavior. If you want to enable that behavior, you're probably going to look at technologies like 5G and high-speed connectivity so they can do prop fitting inside the venue and that you can synchronize that inside the venue bedding with what's happening outside the venue. If those things aren't synchronized, you really can't do, you know, betting on a great large scale. Because what happens inside the venue often happens faster than they're outside or vice versa. So when you start thinking about the behaviors, again, the technologies that come to the forefront are things like the augmented reality that creates a new experience. The 5G that gives you speed. There's a lot of security and technology stuff that helps fans get into the building easier. 

    Josh Walker: (23:07)

    One of our clients is clear and they do the biometric stuff that you do at the airport. That and Ticketmaster and all the different kinds of companies that help you get into the venue. Well, I mean with this current situation there's going to be all kinds of new requirements, right? I want to make sure that I'm safe when I go to the venue and sit next to somebody. So how's that going to change? We're thinking through all the different sorts of behaviors that our clients want to accommodate and we're trying to map those directly to those emerging technologies. 

    Rob Cressy: (23:46)

    Amazingly, this is the first time I've heard someone talk about the ability to use something like Clear to get fans into a stadium more because immediately I'm like, Oh my God, if you can do like the airport if you're using clear or TSA pre-check, it's a game-changing experience for you. Cause there's this giant line in, and we as fans don't like to wait in lines because you want to get into the action, you want to be around it. You don't want to sit there and go from the bar that you were at before this or tailgating with your friends to we got to wait in this 20 minute line. what if we could expedite that process by doing some things that we're seeing in other areas of our lives. 

    Josh Walker: (24:19)

    Not just expedite the process of getting into the venue. But you know, if you've been to any of these newer stadiums, they usually have social spaces or standing room only or you know, the beer gardens and stuff like that. So you want to make sure that age verified people are able to mingle and move around those scenarios and buy beer very simply and get their alcohol, get back to their seat, do whatever they want to do. Having that free flow of crowd movement is also part of authenticating people when they walk in doing the biometric stuff. This isn't fantasy stuff. I mean there’s companies working in a number of stadiums right now. So there's like a bunch of different things that are happening but this whole situation is going to accelerate this thinking and this innovation. 

    Rob Cressy: (25:06)

    Lastly, I want to get you out with is moving forward, being prepared for when live sports and entertainment does resume. We can even think of this on the highest level, professional sports all the way down to the high school level with the booster clubs and the football and the soccer and the things like that. What do people and brands and teams and leagues need to be thinking about right now to be prepared for when that happens? 

    Josh Walker: (25:34)

    Well, I said the other day that I think there are two camps. There's one camp that's going to get all lawyered up and litigious about this situation and just hide and you know, want to get back to normal. There's going to be a whole other camp. This is the camp I love working with and the type of people I seek out in my own professional career is they're going to be the leaders that think about how do they restructure their organization so that they're better suited for the future. And the things that I think are going to happen in the next few months is that the right type of leadership will rise to the top. The people that are making major cuts and aren't thinking strategically about this are going to suffer I don't wish that on them. But I think that this is a period of time where you have to stop and go, what skills were we missing in our organization? What flaws did this whole environment really Shine a hot light on? Right? What were we not prepare to do? And where are we looking for those people? And I think the hard thing for sports is that they've normally taken kids right out of college, work their way up through internships because we'll all work in sports for free. And those tend to become the people that are executives at these, at these organizations. They're no longer just sports. Rob, they're like multimedia companies that have multiple products, television stations, sometimes OTT channels, events, businesses, concession businesses, gambling businesses. Sometimes you need people from outside of the industry. You need to recruit them in and you need to tap their marketing skills or digital skills, their community-building skills and, and really build a different type of organization in the future. 

    Rob Cressy: (27:06)

    One of the challenges I see in this is how can someone know what to hire? They may not necessarily understand it. So even think you mentioned marketing, communicating in that side of things. So as I look at podcasts, video, live streaming, community building, those are terms that if you're going to be talking to a seasoned executive, let's call it someone who is 45 plus years old who might be sitting in a CEO or a CMO role who has done things some sort of way, but they might not be on Tik Tok. They're not using Instagram stories. And it can be difficult for someone like that to understand and, or value that that is something that we need or we have a gap in our market because they're not coming from a position of I am that person and I know what we need. 

    Josh Walker: (27:58)

    Well, I'll give you my best answer to that, which is my co-founder was one of those people who worked in sports her entire career. She's a four-time Olympian. She was on the IOC, she went to Harvard Business School. Angela Rivera was smart enough to know what she didn't know. So she sought it out and we connected and it was part of this partnership that we have where she's constantly teaching me about the business of sports, especially the global business of sports. Sitting next to her riding shotgun, I'm bringing in the technology and the market research that allows us to define these topics in a language that's familiar enough demystified for this industry and allows them to feel comfortable digesting some of the concepts you and I are talking about. Because it is new. It is different, but that's what leaders do. They seek out information. They look for people that are smarter than them and they're okay with that idea. They're not threatened by it and they're like, you're making me stronger. You're making me better. And so the work that we do in this industry is really identifying who those leaders are, giving them the power and the tools and the information they need to make those decisions. Then hopefully we can even help them recruit, like find the right people that are going to fill these roles. I got to tell you, man, I watch a lot of the stuff that you have on your site and I'm not blowing you sunshine. The idea is that there's a whole new class of producers that are going to come out of this world and they're going to be scrappy, they're going to be smart, they're going to know how to use all these different platforms and those skills are going to be in high demand. 

    Click me

    Josh Walker: (29:27)

    As this industry really starts to understand that it's not about taking the production truck, driving it to the stadium, putting up some cable in there and doing the linear broadcast. It's about getting gorilla and being smart, and I know it's 2020 and we're all thinking like, wow, are we really still talking about this? But yeah, we're still talking about this because this industry has relied on one way of making money for a very long time. Media rights has been driving this train forever and when those media rights disappear in this period of time, people are reevaluating their revenue distribution, how they, how they think about the future of their business. And I'm telling you, Rob, your skills and people like you that are creators, that are hustlers, that understand this hybrid media, you're going to be in high demand because they really need to bring in a whole new set of skillset that thinks differently about their business. 

    Rob Cressy: (30:16)

    Why very appreciate those kind words. And I 100% agree with you because one thing that I've never understood is if I have the ability to produce high-quality content, podcast, video, live stream, social media, marketing, and build communities from a home studio, then there should be no reason why a brand team or league with 10 times the amount of resources shouldn't be able to create something similar. 

    Josh Walker: (30:50)

    Or harness you, which is the bigger opportunity, right there are you're a special guy. Don't mean to make it sound like there are a million of you Rob, but there are lots of you there are lots of fans that know how to produce stuff and want to produce stuff. And I gotta tell you at the Sports Innovation Lab that we meet these startups all the time. 

    Josh Walker: (31:10)

    There's usually three or four. They usually, your guys coming out of college want to work in sports, can't get a job. So they do their own thing. Highly creative, incredibly tech-savvy, super smart and definitely hustlers. And I respect those people so much because I'm like, man, if you're a sports team, you harness that creative energy, you take advantage of that network, you bring those people together because you're going to do so much better than trying to hire five or six people for your own organization and do it in house.

    Rob Cressy: (31:39)

    I agree 100% and I'll get out on this, so I've got a background in improv and comedy writing from Second City in Chicago and while I was there for four years going through it not to become a comedian but to learn the skills of one so that I could apply it to the marketing fan engagement in content creation because I looked, Hey, how do you differentiate yourself in this sports world that is very homogenous. But as I'm going through this, I see that the overwhelming majority of the people who were in the second city had the dream of I want to work on Saturday Night Live. Well, that's like a one of 15 in the world type opportunity and if you don't get that, the next level below that is you're working on a cruise line after that. It's like you're struggling, struggling, struggling. And I sat there and I was like, I cannot believe how much-untapped potential there is right now in this room for any brand to be able to utilize some of these people. It was just an untapped asset or a resource that I saw in it's abundant and so many areas in the creative side of things because when you find people who love what they do, they're willing to do almost anything for it. I think we need to see more of that in the marketplace. 

    Josh Walker: (32:56)

    Yeah, and I think there's a way to do it in a brand-safe way, which is you verify these people, you give them a couple of trials and then you elevate them. But I think there's so much brand risk and in the perception of these old school executives that they're like no, these guys can never touch our stuff. We're too high quality for that. Well, right now a lot of people are producing stuff from their bedrooms and stuff. So I think they're learning that the quality is there.These creatives can do things from their home studio. Before I let you run, you gotta tell me if theres a Bucky Dent card is behind you. 

    Rob Cressy: (33:29)

    Bucky Dent's card is not behind me because that was before my time and I'm going to date myself right here, but the first year that you would see really on here is probably 1986 in what Josh is referring to is I have baseball card wallpaper behind me. What it is, is it's all of my cards from when I was a kid collecting baseball, basketball, football cards. And it just so happens through the years from Pittsburgh to college at Miami of Ohio to living in Chicago. I had two garbage bags full of cards that went with me everywhere. It was my childhood. It's why I do what I do. And once I started doing a lot more video work and hosting, I was very aware of my backdrop. So I created baseball card wallpaper. But Bucky dent was a little before my time. Of course, I know of Bucky Dent but I don't have his card. So that's a long-winded way of saying no I do not have a Bucky Dent card on there. 

    Josh Walker: (34:31)

    It also means that your cards are probably worthless because you basically got into the period of time where the card companies flooded the market. At least with my gray hairs, my baseball cards are still able to put my kids through college. I'm hoping. 

    Rob Cressy: (34:44)

    Well you nailed it right there because I think about the Greg Jefferies Mets future stars card that was supposed to put me through college and everyone's like, Oh invest, invest. And all of a sudden the market's like, how about we just print a hundred times X of what we thought we were going to do and just completely saturated it. And that's actually a question people ask me all the time, Rob, isn't that stuff worth something? And I'm like, well it's only worth something if you can sell it. And then the second part is no, no one sitting here looking to get her friend a Don Ross card off my wall. 

    Josh Walker: (35:16)

    Well look, Rob, I really appreciate you doing this stuff and keeping your voice out there. I think it's a really important time for the industry to continue to remember how important sports is and I'm definitely one of those people that believes it's going to come trickling back and then roaring back. I think there's going to be a lot of apprehensions for people to get together, but then I think people are going to really enjoy all the time that we get to spend together at the stadiums, watch parties and everywhere else bars and it's good that you're keeping this light on. I appreciate it. 

    Rob Cressy: (35:45)

    Thank you. I appreciate you. So Josh, where can everybody connect with you? 

    Josh Walker: (35:53)

    Well, Sports Innovation Lab is doing a lot of work to try to keep people on top of what's happening. So you can go to the sportsilab.com. We have a tracker right now that's keeping track of how much the industry is losing from a revenue perspective because of this pandemic. But that work is really setting the stage for analyzing how quickly we can recover as an industry. So I encourage people to go to our website. There are a couple of different things that you can do there. One, you can join our Slack community, which we have over 500 people now in the industry joining together, thinking about the future of sports. It's a cathartic area that we can start focusing on things that are not in the news, which I, which I really welcome all of you guys to do. Then you can listen to our ask me anythings and join those because we're getting guests on that are answering questions from outside the sports industry and I think that's really the most important influential voice we can bring to the table at this point. 

    Rob Cressy: (36:46)

    And as always, I would love to hear from you about this episode. I'm curious if your sports fan loyalty has changed or evolved over the years and or do you find yourself rooting for players more than teams? If so, who are those players? You can hit up fan food on Twitter, at @FanFoodondemand, on Instagram, at @FanFoodapp or on LinkedIn. And as always, you can hit me up on all social media platforms at @RobCressy.