HAVING WORKED in the NBA, NLL, NHL, AND NASL I've been involved with my share of promotions, hypes, sales spectaculars, and marketing schemes of all types.
Until I arrived at the Diplomats last year the combined record of the teams I'd worked for was 132 wins and 411 losses -- therefore, every day was a Hype Day. Oh! God! all those empty seats.
The hype closest to my heart was "Guaranteed Shutout Day," which occurred while I was employed by the Maryland Arrows box lacrosse team. You remember them: "You Gotta Be Mean to Play Box Lacrosse," Crunch Crosscheck, Attila the Hun and plenty of craziness. We played at Capital Centre in 1976.
While watching Pro Wrestling one Sunday morning, the idea hit me like a lacrosse stick smacked upside my head. Get a gigantic wrestler, put a goalie uniform on him, and shove him into the goal, which is half the size of a hockey goal, and the opposing team wouldn't be able to penetrate this ponderous point protector.
I had a serious discussion with Man Mountain Mike, 6-foot-5 and 520 pounds, and the famous Happy Humphrey, 6-foot-3 and 711 pounds, about being our goalie tandem. Humphrey immediately declined, but the Mountain Man said okay.
"It's better than Happy Humphrey jumping on my head." Well, the Mountain Man never showed up at training camp and the league commissioner hastily wrote in an antiobesity clause in the league constitution. cFour months later, the league folded.
My ultimate hype, however, remains on the drawing board. It's called "Inflate-a-Fan" and I've been working on it for 10 years.
Basically, it works like this. Every seat cushion in every arena or stadium worldwide is armed with an inflatable rubber person. Each seat possesses a different sex, size, ethnic background, wardrobe, odor and voice, deep inside its cushion.
Every seat is hooked into a central computer, so if you're 5,000 fans short of a sellout, hit a button and inflate-a-fan takes care of the rest. Pneumatic motors and minicassette recorders take care of their movements and voices. With a flick of a switch they can even spill real beer on you or blow smoke in your face at a crucial point in the game.
If you've ever been to Disneyland you know it's possible. I hear the Japanese are talking to Charlie Finley about a system they are trying to market. Pete Rozelle thinks it may solve the "no show" problem in the NFL and the baseball people asked me if I've done any work with "Inflate-a-Team" in case of a strike.
Even Gary Davidson, founder of the WFL and ABA, called me. He's really interested in the ultimate concept: "Inflate-a-Franchise."
The next time you go out to a ball game, really look at the fan in the next seat. Just don't bring any pins.