Lately, we’ve seen a rising number of ESPN contests focusing on letting fans behind the scenes, and the newest one (run through the Mike and Mike show) is an opportunity to gain backstage access to Jon Gruden and Gruden’s QB Camp. Unlike First Take, Your Take or auctions to let fans appear in This Is SportsCenter ads, this one doesn’t appear to come with on-camera time, but it is another element of bringing fans into the world of ESPN. Here’s more on what’s included in the “Gruden’s QB Camp Sweepstakes“:
ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike launched its Gruden’s QB Camp sweepstakes presented by Sears Auto Center & DieHard Brand today, which gives fans the chance to win a trip to ESPN Monday$ Night Football analyst and Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden’s quarterbacks camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Returning for its eighth year, Gruden’s QB Camp series is a signature element of ESPN’s annual pre-NFL Draft coverage, which features Gruden taking NFL Draft prospects through film study and on-field workouts at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex. Today through Tuesday, Jan. 31, fans can enter online at MikesContest.com/Gruden.
One lucky fan will win a two-night, three-day exclusive trip to Gruden’s QB Camp for themselves and a guest, which includes roundtrip airfare to Orlando, lodging, transportation, meals, behind-the-scenes access to taping of Gruden’s QB Camp and a meet-and-greet with Gruden. In addition, fans will have opportunities to win other great prizes from Sears Auto Center and DieHard Brand by following Mike & Mike on Twitter (@MikeandMike) and checking in each Wednesday, through January 25.
These kinds of things make some sense for ESPN. There are expenses involved in this prize (airfare, lodging, etc), but with the centerpiece being hanging out with someone who’s already under ESPN contract, this isn’t one of the most expensive contests out there. (And for the reported $6.5 million he makes annually, Gruden can probably take some time to do a meet-and-greet with a couple of fans.) It’s also something that helps promote the Gruden’s QB Camp brand; while only one fan’s going to win this in the end, the contest might get it on others’ minds, adding to the urge for them to check those shows out when they air.
It’s interesting that we live in a world where meeting an ESPN personality is such a prize, though. There are unquestionably plenty of people who would be interested in that, but from some angles, it feels a bit odd. Of course, Gruden might draw some more interest than your average sports media figure, as he was also a NFL coach before this. Also, if there’s demand for former coaches and athletes, as speaking engagements and charity fundraisers certainly prove there is, maybe it’s not the weirdest thing to see this applied to sports media as well. While ESPN may often insist “nobody is bigger than the four letters,” they do have clear, recognizable stars, and maybe the widespread public interest in sports extends to meeting the people who want to talk about sports. And maybe it’s not all that odd for people to want to meet Jon Gruden.
On the whole, this seems like a better idea than First Take, Your Take. Giving people behind-the-scenes looks seems more palatable for ESPN’s viewers than putting them on camera. (But hey, putting fans on camera seems to be a trend lately too, so we can’t say that it won’t happen more.) If ESPN wants to run a contest where they’ll pay to fly fans to Orlando to meet Jon Gruden, and if people want to win that contest, so be it. It does perhaps say something about where sports is at now, and how the focus has shifted to not just those who coach or play, but also those who talk about them.