By Austin Feeley
This is it, this is the day. Win or go home. The Baltimore Ravens are hosting a home playoff game for the first time since the super bowl run in 2012. Following an injury to the veteran Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson would lead the team to a 6-1 record down the stretch and clinch the division. This young electric quarterback and his style of play gave the city hope and excitement for the first time in years. The Ravens certainly cashed in on this opportunity, by selling out the game in a matter of minutes. The Ravens would show what type of organization they were and the fans would show who they really were in this sold out nationally televised marquee matchup.
On our way to the stadium, the sport culture of the town was evident. Almost every dog walker, runner, and driver we passed had on some variance of purple and black on, even the businesses with outdoor lights still had their purple glowing for the home team. This had me and my father, self-identified die-hards (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 60), buzzing even more. We arrived to our tailgate with joyous laughter all around, purple beverages, and even street vendors capitalizing on the rookie’s big season. The team made a strong digital effort to have fans in their seats before kickoff, as they wanted a full house. After a few hours tailgating we anxiously trotted over to M&T Bank stadium, home of the #RavensFlock. We had fans lined up behind us singing the infamous White Stripes song, Seven Army Nation, which can be heard after any big play in the bank. The Oh-O-O-O-Oh-Ooh was infectious and got louder as the mob of purple and black marched to the stadium.
Upon entry, everyone was hyped up, even the ticket scanning employees were yelling “Let’s go Raven’s!” We received a huge cardboard rally card to hold up (pictured above), which contained the team’s phrase for the fans “ALL OF US. ALL IN” as well as a popular exclamation in locker speeches by coach John Harbaugh “GOOD!” This rally card hit on two of the seven points of attachment in community and coach (Trail et al., 2000). All the scoreboards were branded with names such as Dietz and Watson, Maryland Lottery, and Under Armour. Some parts of the stadium were also designated for winners of contests, such as the Miller Lite flight deck etc.. Just before kickoff, several hype videos are played, with an installment from their weekly vlog series on social media. I use my phone to take a snapchat and there is a noticeable omni-presence: twitter and facebook with the hashtag #ravensflock (your picture could be featured on the scoreboard) and snapchat where the same hashtag followed with the font the rally cards. Throughout the game there were several video rituals used for first downs (sponsored by Ford) and protect this house (sponsored by Under Armour).
The fans during the game were the most interesting to observe, the fan motivation of drama described in Communication and Sport (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 71) was also very clear, you could hear sighs after good plays and whispers amongst those around us, which made the game that much more important. The Ravens were down by nearly 20 and fans began to boo Lamar Jackson’s play. These were the fair-weather fans highlighted by Billings, Butterworth, & Turman (2018) on page 60. I headed to social media during a break and saw several memes for the terrible play and crowd booing. Eventually, the Ravens would stage a comeback, but would fall short. The organization thanked Baltimore for the support.
Disappointed, I headed to social media to see what the public thought once again. Amid several friends post at the game, I saw a photo on Instagram of Larry Hogan and several other Maryland republican members congratulating the Ravens for a great season while in a box for the game. Hogan used the game as a political resource to elicit awareness and possibly speak with those of his party in the box, much like many other political leaders of the past (Billings, Butterworth, & Turman, 2018, p. 138).
Overall, the Ravens provided an excellent seamless fan experience from online to in stadium, mixing in sponsorships in ads extremely appropriately. The city loves the team and the momentum, despite the boos heard in the second half. Baltimore’s culture is and will forever be intertwined in football.
Baltimore Ravens. (2019, January 06). It’s going to be LOUD at M&T Bank Stadium today. Get to your seats EARLY so you don’t miss all that we have planned pre-game. #ALLOFUSALLIN #RavensFlock https://t.co/ZNA9bOkT7q. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from https://twitter.com/Ravens/status/1081909471071346692
Baltimore Ravens. (2018, November 19). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9uxq5MryiI
Billings, A., Butterworth, M., & Turman, P. (2018). Communication and sport : Surveying the field (Third ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE.
FanoFino. (2019, January 06). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8vyGssgh8s
Governor Larry Hogan on Instagram: “Let’s go, @ravens! #ALLOFUSALLIN #ravensflock #ravensnation”. (2019, January 06). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://www.instagram.com/p/BsTZSt-l2cl/
Hensley, J. (2018, December 31). Lamar Jackson leads Ravens to first postseason berth since 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2019, from http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/25650325/rookie-qb-lamar-jackson-leads-baltimore-ravens-afc-north-title
#ravensflock – Twitter Search. (2019, January 14). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from https://twitter.com/search?q=#ravensflock&src=typd
#ravensflock – Facebook Search. (2019, January 14). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from
Trail, Galen & Anderson, D.F. & Fink, J.S.. (2000). A theoretical model of sport spectator consumption behavior. International Journal of Sport Management. 1. 154-180.