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Becher's Bytes: Hockey is for Everyone, Doggonit

by Jonathan Becher @jbecher / sjsharks.com

Research shows that businesses with more diverse workforces perform better financially and are more innovative. Similarly, diversity and inclusion is good for the business of sports. The more that sports teams embrace the diversity of the community they are in, the more likely their fans will embrace them back.

The National Hockey League (NHL) uses the international reach of the game of hockey to help drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities. Under the slogan Hockey is for Everyone™, the NHL takes a unifying and supportive approach:

"We believe all hockey programs - from professionals to youth organizations - should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status."

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Becher's Bytes: In Sports and Entertainment, The Food Experience Matters

by Jonathan Becher @jbecher / sjsharks.com

It's hard to read a business article these days without seeing the phrase "customer experience" - so much so, that it may seem like it's become the buzzword du jour. Everything a company does - the way it markets, sells, answers the phone, runs its operations, and much more - all play a role in shaping the customer's experience. Any time a potential customer interacts with a brand, it influences the overall experience.

Understanding the customer experience may be the most important investment a company can make in today's competitive business climate. For many companies, delivering the experience is as important as creating the product. In fact, companies are beginning to recognize that delivering an exceptional experience may be the most important thing they can do to stand out from their competition. 

A similar change is happening in the sports and entertainment industry. In the "good ole days" if the home team won, the sports fans left happy. However, event organizers recognize that customers increasingly care as much about the end-to-end experience as they do about the game itself. Poor quality food, a traffic jam, or difficulty parking can ruin an outing - regardless of what happens during the game.

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Becher's Bytes: There Is No Off-Season

by Jonathan Becher @jbecher / sjsharks.com

One of the biggest myths for sports fans is that there is an offseason.

Before you start to disagree, allow me to explain. I am obviously aware that seasons end and that there are long and frustrating months until the next one begins. (Side note: Is it October yet?) But the idea that the off-season is a vacation in which nothing important gets done is wrong.

I won't even debate on how much work professional players put in during the off-season. However, I will point out a solid article from Tim Grover in SI who suggests every locker room should have this notice:

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Becher's Bytes: Rallying Around A Playoff Towel

by Jonathan Becher @jbecher / sjsharks.com

Even though you've probably waved a rally towel before, it's unlikely you ever thought about who first came up with the idea. The rally towel likely has its origins at Western Kentucky University where basketball coach E. A. Diddle waved a red towel on the sideline during games. Rally towels came to professional sports in 1975 when former Pittsburgh Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope created the Terrible Towel to stir up the fans.

In 1982 rally towels arrived in the NHL courtesy of Vancouver Canucks coach Roger Neilson. Neilson was outraged by several unfavorable calls during a road game in the conference finals - as a protest, he draped a white towel over a hockey stick and waved it in mock surrender. Canuck fans greeted the returning team at the Vancouver airport waving white towels, then continued waving towels at the next home game; the so-called "Towel Power" propelled the Canucks to the series victory.

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Becher's Bytes: Welcome to Playoff Mode

by Jonathan Becher @jbecher / sjsharks.com

Do you remember the first time you saw a hockey game in person?

I remember like it was yesterday. In 1993 I was a relative newbie to Silicon Valley when a work colleague invited me to a Sharks vs. Detroit game. Detroit scored in the first 2 minutes of the game but the Sharks won 6-4 on the back of a three-point game from Sandis Ozolinsh. In a foreshadowing of the playoffs, Jamie Baker scored a pivotal goal as time ran out in the second period.

I was hooked and became a Sharks fan for life (#SharksForLife).

Over the years, we Sharks fans have been treated to some amazing hockey - especially in the playoffs. There's no way to choose the biggest moment (Baker's goal in 1994, Donskoi's in 2016, Jumbo's slide in 2011) but the one I remember the best happened in 2006. The Sharks were on a 5-on-3 penalty kill against the Oilers and, for 36 seconds, only one of the three Sharks skaters (Kyle McLaren) had a stick. When Scott Hannan dived to clear the puck with his hand, the Shark Tank erupted in the loudest primal cheer I've ever heard. I am so glad I was there to see it live.

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