My husband, Harry, is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. His bachelor party was under the lights at the second cubs_win_flagnight game at Wrigley Field. One of the reasons he became a Cubs fan is because his father was. His dad passed away in 2009, and he never saw his beloved Cubs win the World Series. Indeed, Bill Sharp was a young man the last time the Cubs played in the World Series in 1945. My parents and mother-in-law were teenagers then.

Both of my grandfathers grew up in Southern Illinois, but worked briefly in Chicago as young men. They became Cubs fans. They were young boys (6 and 1) when the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908. Grandpa Berg was a lifetime Cub fan. Although he enjoyed the Cubs, Grandpa Guy’s first loyalty was the Cardinals.

The excitement in Chicago has been incredible throughout the Playoffs season. The landmark Art Institute lions have donned Cubs caps, buildings are lit with “Cubs” and “W”, and “W” flags fly at homes and businesses in the city and suburbs.

Baseball is steeped in history. Popularity rose in the 1830s, and the National League was founded in 1876. Now, children begin playing organized tee ball as young as age four. One of my early memories was my parents playing Wiffle Ball, and my dad chasing my brother and me around the bases.

So, what does baseball have to do with associations? I see several opportunities to Fly the W:

  1. How are you preserving your organization’s history and traditions? Do you honor long-time members? In the last couple of weeks, we have seen numerous images of such Cubs greats as Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, and popular long-time broadcasters Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. The media has probably focused more on senior and multigenerational family fans than on Chicago celebrities such as Bill Murray, John Cusack and Jeff Garland.
  2. Do you Fly the W? As a long-time “el” commuter prior to smart phones, I simply looked for the “W” or “L” flying over Wrigley Field as we passed to learn game results.  How do you celebrate your association’s accomplishments? More importantly, how do you inform your members of your accomplishments?
  3. How do your members Fly the W? W flags reach miles beyond Wrigley Field. Several of my neighbors Fly the W – and we live a good 35 miles from the ballpark. Do you have infrastructure and benefits so your members can celebrate they are a part of your organization? A few examples include electronic badges… member logos for company letterhead… membership certificates or plaques to display in offices.
  4. Do you have a theme song? “Go Cubs Go” is about as simple to learn and sing as “Happy Birthday.” It’s catchy. The bigger the win, the more times it is repeated. It was heard more than a mile away when the Cubs clinched the National League Championship. How are your members singing your praises? Are they passive members, or are they active fans who tout the benefits of being a member? Do they bring prospective members to events? Do they welcome first-timers?

As I write this blog article, the Cubs and Indians have each won one game, with the series moving to Wrigley Field tomorrow for Game 3.  Go Cubs Go! Let’s get some runs!

About Glenda Sharp

I am a Certified Association Executive with more than 25 years of association management experience. I am principal of Sharper Associations, a full service association management and consulting firm. My clients include the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, National Speakers Association-IL Chapter, SIETAR USA, West Suburban Bar Association, Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, PR consultant Deborah Weixl, and author Harry Sharp.

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