Sports is the quintessential replication of society. Using strategies from sports teams, corporations can glean insights into new and unique approaches to an organization. We attempt to rank the top 5 creative sports teams of all time.
Promotional nights have always been a marketing tool to help encourage attendance during the long summer months. Teams routinely give away bobblehead dolls, towels, baseballs, etcetera which does bring in a larger fan base. In June of 1974, the Cleveland Indians were a below-average team that was struggling with attendance. They decided to promote their upcoming game with the Texas Rangers with 10 cent beer night. The promotion was so successful that twice the expected people showed up totaling over 25,000 spectators. However, fans became so intoxicated that during the 9th inning the game was forfeited. Because an actual riot disrupted the play. You cannot have great innovations without epic failures sometimes.
The early Golden State Warriors boasted a very good team in the late 2000s. Through a smart draft pick selection, they had acquired a very adept shooting team. However, they tried to play a traditional mode of basketball which led then to early exits during the playoffs. Bringing in a new head coach, Steve Kerr, the team applied a strengths-based model that would leverage their shooting skills. A highly unconventional model which was called irresponsible. Eventually, this led to 5 straight NBA finals, 3 championships, and a legion of teams that changed their style of play.
NBA basketball is in a unique competitive position. Having only 7 to 8 superstar players in the league that can take a team to the NBA finals, if a team does not have a superstar, they get stuck in limbo. Average teams reach a spot where they can make the playoffs but cannot win a championship nor are they bad enough to win an early lottery pick where they could draft a potential superstar from the college ranks. The Philadelphia 76ers to a unique approach to getting out of limbo by intentionally depleting their team and losing to gain high draft picks. Later dubbed “The Process” the 76ers under the leadership of Sam Hinkie tanked for approximately 5 seasons until they drafted 2 bonified NBA superstars and are now a top team in their conference.
Oakland has historically been a very cheap franchise. General Manager and former major league player Billy Beane knew that to compete with cash-rich teams that he would have to approach the makeup of his team in a different manner. Baseball had historically been a subjectively measured sport in terms of talent. Beane instead employed a handful of statisticians to understand what types of players would provide the highest value for the lowest cost.
He then assembled a team of misfits focusing on players that were great at getting on base and slugging home runs but were otherwise slow, poor defensemen, and struck out a lot. Combined with young and cheap pitching talents from the minor leagues, the Oakland A’s went on to win 20 consecutive games in 2002 and make Oakland a constant MLB playoff contender. This methodology later changed baseball globally to turn it into a more analytical sport aptly named sabermetrics.
The San Diego Chargers spent their early years as the little brother of the NFL. Always the second or third option behind the Los Angelas Rams or Oakland / Los Angelas Raiders. Enjoying their obscurity, the Chargers built dynamic pass apply teams that changed the NFL. Previously run-heavy offenses changed to high flying air raids. In 2005 the Chargers led the league with a 12 and 4 record. They employed 3 future Hall of Fame players. The NFL recognized the Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer as coach of the year.
Creatively, the Chargers found a way to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Fire their Head Coach. Trade away their Hall of Fame quarterback, and disappear once again into oblivion. The Chargers have always found creative ways to lose with top talent,. Additionally, they then found a unique way to lose their fan base by relocating north becoming the Los Angelas Chargers.
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