Jazz fan commentary: How to keep fans engaged

By Diana Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, July 28 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

A young Jazz fan waves a flag during a 2010 fan event.

Michael Brandy, Deseret News archives

Enlarge photo»

The long months of the summer seem drawn out to NBA fans, and this year it's even worse with the lockout in full bloom.

The normal quietness of summer is even more pronounced with the likelihood the NBA will remain quiet through September, October and November.

Jazz fans remember what it's like during an NBA lockout. The last one came during the 1998-1999 season. The Jazz had just finished their second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals and John Stockton and Karl Malone only had a few prime years left. The lockout all but wrecked any chance they had at gaining an elusive NBA title. Packing 50 games into a four-month season was too much for the veteran-laden team that eventually ran out of gas in the second round of the playoffs.

The lockout is once again coming at an inopportune time for the Jazz.

During the first lockout there were no worries by Jazz fans of what the team would be like once the lockout ended. Every Jazz fan knew that Jerry Sloan would be the coach, Stockton and Malone would be the leaders in the locker room and on the court and the Jazz would be playing team ball.

This year the Jazz are in a place they have never really been before with a roster full of young talent, a new head coach — and no identity. What will the Jazz look like at the end of this lockout? What will fans be able to expect from their team?

The Jazz were in no danger of losing fans during the last lockout. The Jazz were at their best: the team was consistent and there was nothing to cause fans to lose interest. This year, however, after a season of turmoil, turnover and losing, the Jazz are at a great risk of losing fans if the lockout persists as long as predicted.

The Jazz and the media have to make an effort and do things to keep fans invested in the team. Die-hard fans will always be interested, but what can be done so the rest of the fans stay interested?

The NBA and the Utah Jazz have social media unlike in 1998. Fans are online everyday checking Twitter, Facebook, Jazz blogs, the news-sites and the Jazz website.

Normally, fans do not expect new articles every day during the off-season; they know come training camp there will be plenty of news. This year, however, what will bring fans back if there is no training camp in October?

The Jazz should use its Twitter account to its advantage. They normally don't do much with Twitter besides reporting the same news we get from the beat writers, and radio personalities.

The Jazz should hold contests. Obviously current players can't be involved, but why not hold weekly trivia contests to win Jazz gear? The Jazz should tweet history stats and news. They could have each day of the work week be a different news or stats day.

For example, each Monday they can have different news about Stockton, and Malone day can be on Tuesday. Why not do "This day in Jazz history" tweets?

There is so much the Jazz can be doing to engage fans that they are not doing. An advantage that the Jazz have is that they own their own TV station. Why don't they air classic Jazz games on KJZZ. Watching old games will help fans remember the excitement that is the Jazz.

The media still has access to Jazz players. In this day of instant updates and such easy personal access to players, fans expect updates about players even during the off-season.

In the long months of the lockout, Jazz fans need not lose interest — if, that is, the Jazz marketing department and media do things right. Fans may not have games come November, but there are many ways and things to keep fans excited.

Diana Allen is a mother of two who happens to be a Utah Jazz fanatic.

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