Peter Casey is a smart, young hustler who seems to find himself ahead of the curve, sometimes too far ahead, when thinking about the intersection of digital and sport. After working at Columbia on the University’s social strategy, he saw an opportunity to effectively use twitter in its early stages to help Universities tell real-time stories and get game coverage that they were not receiving, and Mark Fratto at St. John’s University brought him on board to be the first-ever “twitter correspondent” for a college team, an idea that even a few years later now may seem like something out of the stone age but at the time it paved the way for a best practice and laid the ground for what teams and league could do with social media, especially augmenting traditional coverage.
He then went on his Pied Piper-ish tale to write about hoops for The Huffington Post when the site realized that sports was a good way to draw traffic, and advanced to helping the legendary Five Star brand relaunch itself and also grow the Knicks digital following, all the while building a sizeable twitter following amongst insiders in sports, but especially in basketball. While he maintains a smart and effective consulting business now working with some major brands in digital activation, Casey has launched another tool which is simple and makes great sense for the sport fan of all ages.
It is called Basketball Passport, and it helps basketball fans create the story of where and what they have seen in basketball throughout their lives…a digital version of a memory book, chock full of virtual old ticket stubs and programs, albeit more in the mind than in hard copy. Casey and co-founder Kyle Whelliston created the simple and easy way for any fan not just to document their basketball present and past, but to help set their tone in fandom. It breaks down games by NBA and NCAA and lists out every arena and its history along with lots of facts and figures, from the well-known to the obscure. The site also lists out all the schedules this year so that you can plan forward as well as looking down memory lane. It is simple, scalable and doesn’t take a great deal of time to figure out. The algorithm does a great deal of the search work for you.
The best part for Casey and friends is that it is unencumbered of license deals and pop ups for now, so that the experience for the end user is pretty pure and very customizable, and most importantly it can be done with virtually any sport over time. It is also free.
Where can a site like this go? Well mobile for one, which will give fans a chance to log in on their handheld as they get to a game, and even use a Foursquare-like tool to see who else is in the area. File and photo sharing and short form video is also a next, and as the site develops, it seems like a natural for geo targeting and sponsor promotions, especially for a travel or a destination site. It has some kinks for sure, and it’s much better served on a laptop, which is counter to the culture these days, but it is a great example of a visionary young person finding a need in a niche and exploiting it.
Casey is also a young person who gets the value of telling the story, and is taking to the road this week on a cross-country journey to every NBA Arena in the next month, handing out fliers, engaging with fans and spreading the gospel of Basketball Passport. He mentioned that he is slowly gaining tickets and building friends, but it is a self-generated launch of love for an entrepreneur who is short on bombast and long on thought. Hopefully along the way our NBA and NCAA colleagues hear of and want to help Casey spread the fun and value of the tool, something which leagues and teams should see as a positive and a conversation piece, not an encumbrance on their revenue. It is a new memory and storytelling tool, and one which should grow n ports fans of all ages.
For more info and to follow Pete’s journey check out the site. You should like what you find…a simple, grassroots business opportunity coming to fruition.