Strat-O in The Huffington Post (2)

Below is a link, and the text of, Joe Favorito’s article in the Huffington Post on 3/30/2010

Mixing the Old and the New: Twackle, "Strat" and Sandlot Day

Sometimes it’s overwhelming, all this "stuff" we have out there now for sports and entertainment. HD gives way already to 3D TV…new sports-specific stadia…fantasy curling (maybe?)…tweeting athletes from the bench…TMZ Sports…Peewee league TV (OK not yet but soon)…the Cheering Channel (not kidding) and on and on. How do we find the balance, the quality, and the time to figure out what’s best to use, what makes sense, and what do we really, really need to create an overall experience to follow our favorite athletes, teams, brands and be able to hold an intelligent talk around the water cooler or the backstop or even the laptop, with our buddies, our friends? Here are some thoughts.

First, we know using social media as a monitoring tool can be a bit overwhelming. How do you use or follow all that you need or want to know? Well, if your choice is Twitter, check out Created by the folks at Octagon, Twackle is basically doing for sports what Digg does for entertainment. Twackle lets someone aggregate what’s out there by sport, team and athlete and gives you trending topics, including features like "Buzzing Sports Feeds" and "Top Sports Trends" that will seek to better highlight real-time spikes in web activity that correlate to news involving a certain team, player or event. Twackle is one of the few tools that will help sports fans, who are usually not the most tech savvy, stay on top of what their other friends following Lost or The Amazing Race or even politics are doing with their favorite subjects.

So why not take the techno-savvy part of the brain to use Twackle, and combine that with some old school fun. Idea number one, take a step back from all the high tech baseball products out there, and go and check out a favorite like Strat-O-Matic baseball again. Yes, there is a CD version one can buy and stats and players can be updated, but the folks who brought us the first (along with APBA) real "fantasy" baseball game still have the board game, the cards, and the ability to give anyone a chance to roll the dice, trade their cards and follow along with friends in the same room or even online. The beauty of "Strat" remains the same as it was when the game was created…it can be as simple or as complex as the participants want it to be, and it gives baseball fans of all ages a real understanding of the strategy of the game of baseball, one on one or in a league. Strat-O-Matic remains a great test for anyone thinking about fantasy, and is a throwback still to a simpler time for all those who really enjoy sport, especially baseball.

Now we have a digital innovation to show us what the world is following in sports, and a throwback board game which can test our managing skills with friends using players across generations. Now what? Well how about getting outside and actually playing a game or two, or at least making the time to enjoy some kids playing the games we love?

Recently First Lady Michelle Obama launched the idea for "Let’s Move," a platform to battle childhood obesity through the grassroots initiatives that combine healthy eating and awareness with physical activity. Here’s an idea that literally plays into the activity side of that concept: "Sandlot Day 2010." As profiled by Mark Hyman in Sunday’s New York Times, Sandlot Day is being championed by Tim Donovan, Director of the Youth Sports Institute at the State University of New York at Cortland, as a day when parents, coaches, and administrators give the games of our youth…especially baseball…back to the kids for a day. The kids pick what to wear, when to play and who is on what side and try to have, well, fun, playing the games for the reason they were originally created. The parents only watch. And if baseball and softball can do it, why can’t adult leagues as well? Just play pickup, no spikes and polished uniforms, just playing to have fun, get some exercise and enjoy the idea of sport for sport itself, at least for one day. Maybe that one day of unencumbered play may get young people who have abandoned organized sports for a sedentary lifestyle to engage in more physical activity, or maybe it will inspire those older to get a little bit more involved with their kids activities or take up some physical activity which they had moved way down on the priority list? If the day inspires even a handful of people to get more involved and have fun enjoying sport, then the idea is a success, and what is the harm with that?

We know that we can’t stem the advancing tide of innovation and opportunity. There’s simply too much to discover and too many ways to discover it. However as Opening Day for baseball looms on the horizon, maybe we can find a way to streamline and simplify some activities that combine the old and the new and have a little fun. How about if on Sandlot Day, Strat-O-Matic became a trending topic on Twackle — a unique combo which could really show how the old and the new ways we can engage could work together? A little simplicity is not a bad thing, but neither is finding ways to make the older ideas mix with the latest without losing either.