Thursday, July 9, 2009

Memorabilia: Schedule Cards

One piece of memorabilia which I’ve always found interesting are the schedule cards schools produce to let fans know the schedule for the upcoming year. In some ways I think these are the most important documents produced each year by a school. It is these cards which allow longtime fans to make plans for season attendance and they are the document you can pass out at restaurants, bars, parades, and other community events to let potential fans know when your team is going to be playing at home. Given this fact, I think producing schedule cards which draw the attention of fans is very important. I also think, as can be seen below, that putting information about the promotions going on during the season is a great idea. This is possible now that NU has actually moved away from producing the traditional cardboard schedule cards of years past and now produces small three-fold pamphlet like schedule cards. This to me is a great improvement as you can get those promotions on the card for potential fans to read about. Also, you can also show more pictures which can catch the eye of someone who picks up the card as the wait for a table at bars or restaurants.

Without a doubt, pictures can catch a person’s eye. So, the question becomes what pictures would best catch people’s eyes for future Northwestern basketball schedule cards. Well, the idea to promote a team’s best players is certainly a strong idea. I loved the fact last year that NU’s schedule card included not just senior Craig Moore, but also star sophomore Michael Thompson. This year I’d like to see Kevin Coble join Thompson on NU’s schedule cards and posters. Promoting star players is one of the most important things to do in schedule cards and posters to lure potential fans. People love to watch stars play and to follow teams with stars. In the case of Northwestern, the man to promote is probably Coble. While Thompson has had some great games, after what Coble did last year against Michigan State, there are probably a lot more basketball fans in the Chicago area (and hopefully around the nation) that recognize his name. Putting him on schedule card might get some basketball fans to come to NU games to see him play, even if they aren’t big Northwestern fans. This could become even more useful if Coble starts the year with a few early season games like the one he had in East Lansing.

Below, you can seen that in the early 1990s NU made an effort to promote the team by putting star center Kevin Rankin on the front of their schedule cards for a few years. A really like the 91-92 card as it shows an eye-catching action shot. Looking forward to this year, I’d love to see similar shots of Coble and Thompson. The 92-93 card, which was e-mailed to me by reader Jon Solomon (who is also the editor of Princeton which you should all check out at was eye-catching in another way. NU changed from the traditional photo to a purpleish color scheme. This certainly helps the card jump out at the eye, but I wish Rankin were doing something more interesting than shooting a free throw. The 95-96 card is similar in that it has a really cool Northwestern Wildcats logo along the side, but then the picture of the team huddled isn’t that exciting. If you want someone to pick up a card that is sitting at the entrance of a restaurant or keep something given to them at a community parade, you need catch the person’s eye. This is even more important now that NU is putting the season’s promotions on the back of the schedule cards. Looking at the cards with Rankin, NU also probably missed the boat by not saying who he was next to his picture. The NU staff did a great thing in recent years when they started putting players names next to their pictures on posters and schedule cards. As much as I'd like to think so, I don't think many non-NU fans can name many NU players on sight.

If I were asked, I’d love for this year’s card to be similar in design to last year’s, but get a picture of a Coble dunk and Thompson releasing a floater instead of simply dribbling or shooting a free throw. Also, keep the information on promotions as they can give people a reason to come out to Welsh-Ryan. After all, most sports fans love giveaway days, and the first giveaway should be a schedule card so people know when to come back.

Last year's card had a list of promotions next to the list of games (a great idea!)
1992-93 card with Kevin Rankin (again, thanks to Jon for this card)
1991-92 card with Kevin Rankin
1995-96 card, note the cool logo on the side

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