What is the Role of a TBT Booster?
By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31
Want a popularity bid into #TBT2017? A booster may be able to help with that.
144. That is the number of fan votes seperating the ninth and tenth place teams in all four regions combined as of Monday afternoon. If the registration process ended today (exhale, it doesn't), those 144 votes would determine who gets a much coveted popularity bid into #TBT2017. And with every single game being broadcasted on the ESPN family of networks this summer, that margin is expected to close even tighter leading up to the June 1 registration deadline. So say you are a team who does not want to (a) pray to the Basketball Gods that you garner an at-large selection or (b) play in the TBT Jamboree to gain entry into the $2 million tournament, those 144 votes might as well be the Eigth Wonder of the World right now.
If you are a GM, coach, player or even fan of a team seeking entry into TBT 2017, at this junction you may be asking what steps you can take to try and ensure you finish in the top-nine in your respective region. While nothing beats an all-in, teamwide get out the vote campaign, having an active booster (or multiple) has proven to be a huge help for TBT teams over the past two years.
Established in 2015, the TBT booster is unofficially (waiting on you Merriam-Webster) defined as "A public figure that gives your team a unique identity and helps it get votes (e.g. a celebrity with a lot of followers, college fan group, non profit, Bill Murray, etc)." As we've seen over the past few years, TBT boosters come from all walks of life. New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis repped New Mexico RH last summer. Michael Rapaport joined forces with Matt Bonner and Brian Scalabrine to form the first-ever 'Big Red Three' in 2014 (and breaking news: is serving as GM/SF for The Stickmen in TBT 2017). Legendary rapper The Game partnered with JaVale McGee and Team Fancy last year. The list goes on and on. Basically, celebrities seem to like cut-throat basketball and multi-million dollar paydays. They also have a tendency to draw eyeballs, and thus votes, to your squad.
But even with that being said, you certainly don't need to be a professional athlete or a recurring guest on the nation's number one sports podcast (*cough Rapaport*) to make an effective booster. Take third-year Armored Athlete booster Jess Reinhardt for example. Utilzing social media to build a network of grassroot supporters, Reinhardt's efforts have helped earn Armored Athlete a popularity bid the last two years. Similarly, despite not having a single player on the roster yet, Hilton Magic Legends (Iowa State Alumni) booster Devin Perry has also utilized social media to rack up nearly 1,200 votes in just two-and-a-half weeks.
Even groups, whether it be fan sections or non-profits, make for great boosters. While Boeheim's Army may disagree, the Oakland Zoo calls themselves the "best student section in the country." Well, so far they have lived up to the hype. Supporting their former University of Pittsburgh stars, the Zoo has tapped into its network of over 25,000 Twitter followers to help solicit votes for The Untouchables. The Blue and Gold Cub (Drexel Alumni) has a special booster in the Morris Animal Refuge, the nation's first and oldest animal shelter. Not only does this give Blue and Gold Club more exposure throughout Philadelphia, but if they win the Drexel alumni are pledging $50,000 to the shelter. It's a win-win.
So what is the moral of the story? Although the players on the court will ultimately decide who takes home the $2 million prize, getting them there is an obvious prerequisite to winning the money. Whether it be a celebrity, superfan, former grad assistant, fan section or anything in between, having an active booster will almost certainly give your squad a leg up heading into the stretch run of what will be an intense next seven weeks.
Notable TBT 2017 Boosters:
Jess Reinhardt has utilized social media to help mobalize a dedicated group of Armored Athlete supporters.
C-House Basketball USA
Oak....Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Antonio Hamilton is supporting C-House Basketball USA. The team pledges to donate $300,000 to the non-profit C-House should they win, which "provides academic enrichment, leadership development and athletic training to boys and girls aged 8 to 12."
Golden Boot Dynasty
Keith Kelley has a wealth of experience in sports between his time as a Great American Conference athletics communications intern and former student assistant men's basketball coach at Southern Arkansas University. Now, the 22-year old graduate student has Golden Boot Dynasty sitting at over 1,000 votes in just two-and-a-half weeks.
Hilton Magic Legends (Iowa State Alumni)
The Hilton Magic Legends may not have anyone on the roster yet, but thanks to Social Meida Manager Devin Perry they have racked up the most votes of any team in TBT 2017 so far.
Memorial Magic (Vanderbilt Alumni)
Portland Trail Blazer center, NBA champion and Vanderbilt alum Festus Ezeli is a booster for Memorial Magic.
Local Charlotte radio legend Larry Mims is rolling with his hometown PrimeTime Players.
Team Challenge ALS
Former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan are both supporting Team Challenge ALS to try and raise money and awareness to #strikeoutALS.
Derreck Wilson first caught "Jimmer Mania" in 2011. Thanks to his savvy social media skills, he's now a booster on his idol's TBT squad, Team Fredette.
The Blue and Gold Club (Drexel Alumni)
In addition to the afroementioned Morris Animal Refuge, professional boxer Isaiah Wise is supporting his hometown Blue and Gold Club.
The Untouchables (Pittsburgh Alumni)
The Oakland Zoo has put together an all-out social media blitz to help The Untouchables try and qualify for TBT 2017.