When I was in middle school and high school, the cheerleaders would occasionally do this thing during football games where they would come up into the stands and start throwing out little plastic footballs. I’m sure you’ve seen something similar to this.
Every single time this happened, people who weren’t paying the least bit of attention before were completely engaged. Then, for the remainder of the game, little plastic footballs were flying all over the stands. Some of them even made their way onto the field.
I’ve always wondered why this was a win in the minds of the cheerleaders. Now, quick disclaimer, I won the superlative for “Most School Spirit” my senior year of high school, so I was always the guy yelling at the student section when they weren’t supporting the team the way they should have been. So, it always bothered me that the cheerleaders, who are supposed to be responsible for leading cheers, were instead distracting the crowd from why they were all ultimately there… to cheer on the team.
In the minds of the cheerleaders, they were generating excitement and energy. They were getting the crowd’s attention. That’s a win, sure. But at what expense? For the rest of the game, the crowd was distracted by the plastic footballs, and the janitors had a lot more clean up. Did the plastic footballs enhance the experience of the crowd? Of course. That probably is the goal at a high school football game, though I wish it weren’t.
Now, that’s a long rant if I’m just talking about plastic footballs at Rossview High School. But I say all of that because I think there’s a principle there.
Never create momentary engagement at the expense of long-term commitment to the ultimate goal.
Opportunities will constantly present themselves to do something “cool” to grab people’s attention. But if that momentary engagement is a distraction from what you’re ultimately wanting people to do, don’t do it. If cheerleaders truly wanted to lead people in cheers, they wouldn’t be passing out plastic footballs.
How does this look for you? What are you tempted to do that will create a buzz, but ultimately be a distraction? Is it always bad to create a buzz? Absolutely not. Should you evaluate the long-term effects of the buzz-item? Absolutely.