How Sports Can Deliver Happiness

Today’s blog post will be a little different than most. For one, it includes a giveaway! As a blogger, I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of Tony Hsieh’s ‘Delivering Happiness‘ which won’t officially be released until June 7. To my surprise, when I got the package, it also included an extra book for me to give away. While I was reading it (in two days flat), I ran across many nuggets that would be relevant to sports franchises, brands and sponsors.

Tony is the CEO of, a company well-known for its ability to surprise and delight their customers. While I won’t give my full book report now (that will come the first week in June), I wanted to give all of TBOS’ faithful readers a chance to win the book. So, between now and Tuesday, May 4, post a comment to this blog entry and let us know how you currently deliver happiness to your fans/customers/readers/friends, or how you think you could do so in the future. We’ll pick the best entry and mail the book out to you!

The book has two main focuses: how to treat your employees, and how to treat your customers. I worked for a company once that openly stated they expected new employees to work there for two years, grow a little bit, then leave, because they wouldn’t be paid what they were worth. Now, that company is still in business, but I don’t know a single person who works there that isn’t miserable and counting down the days to their next job. You’d have to imagine that that attitude is in some way passed on to their customers. Zappos, on the other hand, fosters a culture that celebrates each person for who they are, and openly creates a pipeline of talent so that if someone does leave, they know that they have another skilled individual waiting in the wings. If you worked for Zappos, how amazing would it be to know that they not only wanted you to learn and grow, they expected it of you, AND they made resources available to you to get it done?!

On the other hand, Zappos actively tries to surprise their customers with exceptional service. This is relevant to sports teams and their fans in so many ways. It can take just one minute for a player to record a video and for it to be uploaded to Twitter or the team’s site. A sincere thank you email takes even less time to compose and send. This book will inspire you in so many ways, regardless of whether your customers are fans, vendors or teams.

Now, one word of warning, when you get done reading this book, you may very well want to quit your job, move to Las Vegas, and start working for Tony Hsieh. Neither myself nor can be held responsible for that phenomenon. Make sure you include your email address in your comments below so that we can contact the winner.

8 thoughts on “How Sports Can Deliver Happiness

  • April 29, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    If sports are the dessert of life, Bill Scheft delivers a cream pie to the face.

  • April 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    At UCSB, we deliver happiness by creating the best game atmosphere in college soccer. With over 4,500 fans per game the atmosphere is electric, with college students leading chants the whole game and tortillas being thrown in the air when we score a goal (a school tradition).

    We also deliver happiness to our young fans, providing inflatables to jump on pre-game, the opportunity to high-five the players as they come on the field, and scheduling youth teams to scrimmage during halftime.

  • April 29, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Towards the end men’s basketball season and tickets to our home games were hard to come by, we utilized the demand to get some feedback and involvement from students on how to build affinity within the UTEP community.

    Before the sold-out season finale vs UAB, we invited a select number of students(picked from respondents to a request for hardcore Miner Students on our social media outlets.) to the facility pre-game for a round table discussion followed by free pizza and drinks provided by a sponsor and exclusive front-row seating at that game with free shirts and refreshments from our department.

    This moment of magic earned their trust and now we have a strong dedicated segment of students that are helping us to build a new sense of pride and tradition where it totally lacked before.

  • April 29, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    We deliver happiness to all stakeholders in sport:

    To players by connecting their physical and digital worlds of sport
    To leagues and clubs by saving them time and money
    To national and international governing bodies by creating new digital assets to fund future development
    To sponsors by providing a platform for them to earn consumers’ attention by adding value instead of interrupting

  • April 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    To build on one of the points in your blog, I know of two sports organizations here in Phoenix who share a similar philosophy regarding their employees. They figure within two years, an employee should have already proven themselves worthy of being promoted, otherwise they are let go.

  • May 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Sports teams in general can deliver happiness by bringing all fans – even those from the opposing team – together for the love of the game. I think sports and its teams and players have a huge potential to show fans and the rest of the world what it means to be courteous and respectful, despite rivalry; to be professional and honest in the pursuit of excellence, while not ignoring ethics. Sports can be one of the most influential factors in society that demonstrates how more people can live their lives and then work together toward a common goal. With that can come happiness, I think.

  • May 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    The company:

    Employees must see positive, open participation from the top down. Respectful, transparent participation in the process of creating the goals of winning and generating profit by the leaders of the company go a long way in building loyalty and commitment in employees. Opportunities for employees to earn recognition, bonuses (whether monetary, trips, etc.) for their contribution to those goals are motivating factors that build happiness. Company-wide support of a phrase (as in “Umbutu” with the Celtics) gives employees a fun way of connecting no matter what role they play (from the uniform washer to the MVP star of the team) and unites them in the process. Opportunites for the empoyees to blow off steam together also help to build unity. Companies that allow for their employees to relax during the day, will get more in return productivity. Recreation rooms on site, whether game rooms, health clubs, or time for an afternoon gathering around the Oprah’s interview with Tiger Woods (LOL) offers employees time to gather together away from their cubicles. Bring the players in, whenever possible to talk and hang out with the non-playing employees. All will be together building happiness while reaching for the clearly established goals of the team.


    The owners should be as transparent as possible through social/conversational media and their website(s) building response and participation toward the goal of winning. The same expression (an “Umbutu” kind of expression) should be shared with fans/customers so they can buy in on the fun. In addition, traditional media (broadcast, out of home, print) should be used to convey that spirit of unity and fun. Whenever possible the team business should create interactive fun in the lobbies of the arenas, parking lots, etc. to capture the happiness attention of their fans/customers. This generates an email/social media database that can be used to build awareness for a variety of promotional ticket sales opportunities. Team ambassadors should consistently engage fans in the stands, on the promenades around the stadiums/arenas building a team related hapiness factor providing contests, coupons for discounted concessions (food, snacks, beverages, etc.) What a way to generate fan/customer loyalty and support. There’s more yet, I don’t want to reveal all of my secrets! LOL


  • May 7, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Congratulations, Alan, you are the winner of our ‘Delivering Happiness’ giveaway! I’ll get the book out to you this weekend… Enjoy it!

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