Best of 2022 (Page 3)

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

Best Act:

The touring act or halftime show that excels in providing quality entertainment for your fans. Touring acts, halftime acts and non-mascot performers are considered. Consider drawing power, entertainment quality, cooperation of the act, ability of act to promote appearances, added media exposure for team, act innovation and value.

Winner: Firecrackers! and David “The Bullet” Smith

The Kings Firecrackers jump-rope team is made up of 4th through 8th graders.  Started in 1995 and has been managed since by former Kings physical education teacher Lynn Kelley.  The team practices 10-15 hours a week and draws huge crowds wherever they perform.  Their annual Rupp Arena performance is often a highlight for the team, but they have been creating huge halftime highlights for NBA and college teams across the Midwest.

The team is not only creating incredible performance, but incredible people as life skills are rolled into the expectations of being on the team.

Firecrackers spend time studying their film. “We have someone videotape the performance, and when we get back home we watch it and we pause it,” one young Firecracker explained. “We see what we could do better, what we did good and what we did to make that happen.” What they do is no joke; the group typically practices for two hours a day, five to six days per week. But it’s not all jump roping. The Firecrackers are a well-rounded group. To practice that, they spend the summer taking etiquette classes as a team. “Etiquette is a big part of Firecrackers and a big part of the world,” one group member said. We want to show we are nice people and we’re well educated… It’s a good skill to have later in life.” (story)

In 2022 the only thing that could match these young jump ropers was David Bullet Smith.  As one panelist explained “Nothing beats seeing a man get shot out of a cannon.”

David Smith Jr. is the highest flying Human Cannonball in the world today! He holds 6 Guinness World Records with the highest cannon shot and the farthest cannon shot, breaking his own World Record four times!

David has been a human cannonball for 22 years. He has performed over 8,000 cannon shots in fifteen countries. As a second generation human cannonball, the thrill is in his blood!  Taking over the cannon from his father, David Sr., at 19, David has been a professional Human Cannonball ever since having performed some of the world’s most daring human cannonball stunts.

This spectacular stunt has keeps fans in their seats and definitely gets them talking afterwards.

Last years winners, Simon Sez Steve Max and Christian and Scooby both in strong contention here again. You can see more on these great acts in our Entertainment Act Pages featuring Steve Max – Simon Sez and Christian and Scooby.

Category Winners:

Best Team Introductions:

Which team introduction is the best produced, executed, fresh and innovative. Consider creativity, value to fans, execution, quality of presentation, fan interaction and attention to detail. We level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams. The category will focus primarily on the standard introduction (opening night variations will be considered, but the focus is on the standard game production). Due to the category we will also rely heavily on video reviews (YouTube, etc.).

Winner: The Party Animals (Savannah Bananas) and Minnesota Vikings

Perhaps nothing shows the wide variety of creativity and success as our two winners in 2022.  Different sports, scales, budgets, vibe and energy…but both serve the goal of setting the stage for the game and defining the participants and brand.

The Party Animals are the Washington Generals to the Savannah Bananas’ Globetrotters.  This introduction video (which is not used in stadium, since their stadium does not have a scoreboard) introduces the characters for fans and helps define the brand and style of the rival Party Animals.

With a not-so subtle hint of WWE, it is reminiscent of the wrestling rule that you are only better than the opponent you can defeat.  So defining the Party Animals as a quality opponent and building them up only makes the Bananas seem better if they are able to win (and paints any loss as coming up short to a strong opponent).  It also helps add character and personality to the rival players and vibe of the team….and in the case of the touring Bananas that means more eyeballs and tickets sold.

The Vikings also use their video to set the stage for an epic battle. Using all the high-end tools including scoreboard, ribbon boards, smoke, oversized props, thematic imagery, former players and icons and even fake snow the Vikings create a storybook setting for game.

Custom music and a lights out component make this showcase the Best of 2022 and beyond.

The team does not stop after the introductions, having now created an iconic Viking horn blowing moment and a stadium-engulfing SKOL clap.

Honorable Mention: NBA at 75

The daunting call to honor 75 of the greatest players in NBA history during one halftime All-Star induction must have been both appealing and terrifying to the production team.  But our panel agreed this 10 minute showcase was a winner for the league, players and fans.

The league also allowed for a lot of backstage and rehearsal access to illuminate behind-the-scenes interactions between the players across all eras.  This created substantial interest and buzz surround this introduction and helped provide so much extra context and interest.

A panelist confessed “I love all of these intros, but I am a NBA nerd and those introductions for the top 75 players were executed so perfectly.”

Also receiving consideration included the Seattle Kraken, Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning.

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.

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