Best of 2022 (Page 2)

The Best of 2022 Awards. Innovation, variety and creativity shine in this year’s look at the Best in Game Operations and Entertainment.

Best Contest or On-field Promotion:

What promotion or contest is the most entertaining. For example, a “Chuck-a-puck” contest. This is a repeatable on-field or video promotion held in-game. Consider entertainment value, creativity, local connections, sponsorship possibilities, cost, and repeat-ability.

Winner: Spy Cam (Dallas Stars) and Mascot Mario Kart (Chicago Blackhawks)

Spy Cam (Dallas Stars)

Dallas’ clever Spy Cam purports to use advanced NSA technology to see what fans are typing in their text messages, creating a hilarious showcase of funny messages and playful interactions.

The cam is very flexible, allowing for short punchy hits between action or the ability to fill longer blocks in the show, which added a lot of value for one of our panelist, “I think Spy Cam is so clever because you can use these whenever there is time to fill, and it could be 15 seconds or 5 minutes.”


The scoreboard knows all 😂 #aac #scoreboard #text #hockey #nhl

♬ original sound – That Stars Fan ⭐️

Interesting Cams are everywhere, but the clever writing and unexpected fun makes this Stars’ version shine and leaves fans wanting more.

Look Mom! I’m on the Jumbotron!

Mascot Mario Kart (Chicago Blackhawks)

This Mascot Mario Kart Tommy Hawk intermission was part of Tommy Hawks Winter Block Party themed game. The mascots were all costumed like the game and the team was all-in with incredible attention to detail.

Warp pipes, mystery boxes, piranha plant, and each mascot dressed as a different Mario character. As the mascots raced past the mystery boxes they had the option to pick up the box and use whichever item they received. Banana peels and red turtle shells awaited the racers inside the boxes.

Tommy Hawk was the winner, especially since he was driving an electric four wheeler instead of the pedal karts the other mascots were using.

A delighted panelist added “The Blackhawks tied into one of the most popular and universally recognized video games of all-time and bringing it to life in 3D with all of the attention to detail. It’s what we all strive to achieve in our on-ice/field/court promos!”

Honorable Mention: Weiner Dog Races (Sioux Falls Stampede)

The Wiener Dog race is an annual fundraiser (now in its 15th season) for the Dakota Dachshund Rescue.  The race takes place in-between periods. In recent year’s the Stampede has gone as far as changing their name for the night to the Sioux Falls Fighting Wiener Dogs as part of the attraction.

The evening also features additional wiener dog events, from a ceremonial puck drop to an adoption event.

Category Winners:

Listen to the Best of 2022 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Amanda Greco, Rich Meyers and Benjamin Hill. – December 2022 Party in the Back Podcast. One interesting discussion on the pod related to on-field promotions in baseball. MILB expert Ben Hill explained between pandemic and pitch-clock, on-field promos in MiLB are at a low ebb opening the door for other sports to make an oversized impression on our panel in 2022.

Also on

See The Store at where we have many turn-key sponsor-friendly promotions and game entertainment resources available, like Build-a-Burger, Parachute Drops, Chuck-a-Puck and the World’s Largest Cornhole Game.

Best Mascot:

A mascot whose work was creative and enthusiastic, serving as a valuable tool for their team and in their community. Consider ability to engage and entertain fans, create fresh innovative content, and create a multidimensional character who is effective in-game, in-community, online, and through social media. All sports team characters and college mascots are eligible.

Winner: Gritty

Gritty’s eye-popping antics continue to make him the must-see mascot in sports.  One Hockey Team Executive raved “Gritty is just without peers right now in terms of mascot performance, presence, and following. The King of Social Media.”

Gritty has not let up since turning his questionable introduction into a pivot point towards stardom.  In addition to his status as the Internet’s favorite mascot and Philadelphia icon he has his own 5k race and he’s making people understand they NEED a mascot like Gritty… even if they aren’t sure why.

Like this fan on Instagram asking why birthday cakes are being thrown at 5k runners:

brianamatopoeia – I need to know why cakes are being thrown at people. Ok maybe I don’t like NEED to because I love it an insane amount with zero context but I am still curious. lol
A large part of Gritty’s success is that the performer and team knows who the character is, so the performance (while crazed) is consistent and well-considered.
One panelist summarized the Gritty experience like this, “Gritty: He’s still the most talked about new character in recent memory and has maintained rock star status in most demographics in a challenging “fan city” by leaning into his own character more and more with tremendous consistency.”

Honorable Mention: Shelldon (Daytona Tortugas) and Slugger the SeaDog (Portland SeaDogs)

Shelldon (Daytona Tortugas)

Shelldon is one of two Honorable Mentions in the Mascot Category.  Daytona’s favorite turtle turned up the volume on their social media and in-game efforts to produce a constant flow of interesting, fun content.

As discussed on the Audio Roundtable, Shelldon and the shell-bound performer stood out (like Slugger) as someone who spent and outsized amount of time and energy working on the craft.  Always creating, writing, scripting, rehearsing and planning the next bit or eye-catching video.

Slugger the SeaDog (Portland SeaDogs)

Ben Hill from MILB reflected “I feel like we talk about Slugger every year, but on the MiLB level he’s still tops as regards both physicality and original on-field skits.”

Slugger is one of the rare mascots in any league who is producing a skit EVERY game.  Like anything, you get better with the “reps”.  And season after season, few are getting more Reps than Slugger.

Portland fans are treated to his high-energy hi-jinx nightly and his social media profile is rising.

Lots of love for characters across sports with Toro (Houston Texans), Stuff (Orlando Magic), Benny the Bull and The Phillie Phanatic all gathering a lot of support for Best Mascot of 2022.

Category Winners:

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