(Varsity Partners are proud partners of Front Office Sports)
It’s a strange and unprecedented time for the sports industry, but live events will eventually return. In the meantime, sports professionals can use this time to take stock of what is truly important personally and professionally and possibly even emerge from social isolation with new ideas. Varsity Partners, a group of fan strategy and branding experts in college sports, are hoping to do just this and inspire others to do the same.
Varsity Partners continue to be proactive even during this current offseason. They plan to stay engaged with partners and college administrators as well as grow the team, with the addition of an executive that has experience from Lime, Learfield-IMG College, and Under Armour.
Patrick Flynn, a veteran of the college sports space whose resume includes nearly 8 years at Under Armour, recently joined Varsity Partners as their new Vice President of Business Development. Flynn’s main goal in the role will be to amplify the organization’s unique voice in a space that has a lot of noise.
“College sports fans are more passionate than any other level of sport in America” Flynn told FOS. “I’m excited to be joining Varsity because it’s an opportunity to create the fan and brand experience and tell unique college stories. Our team has a unique ability to create authentic stories for universities and brands; we are already working on major innovations to college athletics, furthering how schools connect to their own fans despite sports being sidelined.”
Based on his own observations of the college sports space, Flynn can attest that the organizations who will be able to make the most of this period of social isolation will be the ones who are able to think creatively and adequately prepare for the eventual return of sport. This especially applies to schools who are dealing with small fan engagement teams.
“Programs using traditional means of engagement will always be playing catch up. Moving forward in this climate, you have to be able to pivot and do things differently,” Flynn said.
“I think something that schools should be focusing on is the relaunch or rebirth of their team. There’s lots of uncertainty right now, but sports will be back. So how are you planning for the return of sports for your school or brand, and how is it going to look? What is the launch activation plan? I’m eager to see what schools are going to do and excited that we’re able to help provide support for schools in doing that.”
To get prepared for that return, professionals are turning to virtual learning opportunities now more than ever. Varsity Partners will look to fill this void with the first of their Sideline Sessions: a one-hour, web-hosted conversation to share ideas and discuss concepts regarding the future of fan and brand engagement in collegiate sports. This will be free of charge and hosting a variety of college sports administrators.
“I think it’s going to be a great forum for administrators to share their unique experience and be able to take away a lot of learnings from distinguished peers in the space,” Flynn said of the upcoming session. “I can’t wait to see what comes out of it, I think it’s going to be a major tool in the toolbox for these administrators.”
For fans and marketers alike, this strange time is building the excitement for the return to the office and to the field. From the perspective of Flynn and the rest of the Varsity Partners team, the potential is there for college sports to return stronger than ever.
“I think people are seeing how much their passion and university affiliation really means to them through these uncertain times and will see even further upon the inevitable return of what millions of Americans are missing, college sports.”
Sideline Sessions will occur with college athletic administrators from across the country on Tuesday, March 31st at 2 pm.
Participation is limited, reach out to Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to join.