Spokane loves its sports teams, be they professional, recreational, pre-Thanksgiving yard football or other.
The big “other” in our region, is college sports.
- We've got Gonzaga University in our city (GO ZAGS!).
- We've got Eastern Washington University up I-90 in nearby Cheney (GO EAGLES!).
- We've got Washington State University two hours away in Pullman (GO COUGS!).
All have been a boon for print, Web and mobile sports content.
The Spokesman-Review's editorial department this year launched a mini-site called the Zags Report where Gonzaga fans can find all things GU: games, standings, player rosters, photos, blogs and an uber-GU fan site begun by our marketing department years ago, “GU Boards/The Home of Gonzaga Basketball Talk.” Just over 8,000 registered fans congregate here, talking men's basketball, women's basketball, the West Coast Conference, former players' career paths, Egypt, ticket prices, what have you. Three times the number of registered fans flock to the site in any given month.
Over in the EWU Eagles' neighborhood, editorial turned out the Eagle Report, in plenty of time for the mighty Eags to capture the NCAA Division 1 Championship this year. There too are photos, blogs, stats and, in the case of the recent trip to the Division 1 Championship, a hilarious blog by two Spokesman-Review affiliated brothers (Jess and Ralph Walter) who are also EWU graduates.
Shamefully, if you ask old EWU grads like us where we went to school, we often respond, “Just Eastern.” Maybe we were accepted at the University of Washington but money was tight and we stayed close to home. Or perhaps we wanted to go to Stanford but found out that a 600, while a good series in bowling, was not such a good SAT score.
But settling for a school because it makes sense isn't a bad thing, especially in these hard economic times. In fact, we think it should be a series of T-shirts: “Just Eastern.” (Hey, marketing department: That's a freebie.) It's actually the best thing about EWU graduates: our lack of misty-eyed nostalgia. We don't foist Cougar sweatshirts as unwanted Christmas presents; we don't paper our Saabs with “Husky Mom” bumper stickers; we don't dress our poor babies in “Little Eagle” onesies.
Gonzaga can have its “did-you-see-me-at-the-game” fans. Montanans can have their football weekend crowds of 30,000. We have what we like to call “lives.” You want to spend your days reliving your old college days, go ahead. We don't consider the high point of our existence the time we spent in some dingy fraternity basement, on the business end of a beer bong. (Actually, Ralph calls that “a Tuesday.”) We go about with a bit of dignity, perhaps with a slight sense of underdog achievement; yeah, maybe we JUST went to Eastern, but look at us now. Grown-ups.
Which was why it was a little bit shocking to find ourselves digging out our old red T-shirts, growing tailgate facial hair, jumping up and down and acting like a couple of moonshine-fed Alabama boosters over what was unquestionably … THE GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!
They throw for touchdowns on fourth down! They have a running back named Taiwan who averages 104 yards a carry — and they don't even need him to win! Their quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell, has an arm strong enough to reverse the polarity of the earth. They feature a bunch of wildly talented local kids, like Ferris triple threat Jeff Minnerly, whose parents were on the plane in front of us and might buy us another drink if we mention his name. Their linebacker J.C. Sherritt is only 7 inches tall, but when he blitzes, Homeland Security raises the terror threat to “Oh, crap.”
And they play on a red field! Red!
And what can we say about the Cougs? They're up, they're down. They're up again. We love them. So much so that The Spokesman-Review's next mini-site launch — on tap any day now — will focus on WSU Cougar hoops. Each sport offers us an opportunity to pool all types of content in one, easily accessible place.
Additionally, we're using simple behavioral-targeting techniques from our developers to serve up advertising content to fans viewing stories, blogs, or photos of their favorite teams. This means we have the ultimate multi-platform package to offer: expertly-reported print stories with award winning photos, Web site packages that offer extra content for the super-fan, mobile optimisation that makes for easy viewing on the go and now, advertising messages in all of those places — and behaviorally targeted online!
It's a winning formula for our winning sports teams and us both.