The Jacksonville Jaguars are “All-In”, according to their 2012 season marketing campaign. It’s not uncommon for professional sports teams to rev-up the fan base with various promotions, ticket offers and pep rallies, all the while showing off the new athletic product on the playing field. Last year the Jaguars finished with a disappointing 5 – 11 regular season record. Their season was full of upheaval and disorder. They started the season off by releasing their long time quarterback David Garrard. After a couple of bright spots, including runningback Maurice Jones-Drew leading the league in rushing, they went downhill with rookie Blaine Gabbert at the helm. The season ended with the firing of coach Jack Del Rio and the sell of the team by Wayne Weaver, long-time owner and founder of the franchise. Now a new season is here, with new leadership, and the new owner Shad Khan wants to let everyone know that he and his team are fully committed to turning things around for a positive outcome this season. The new push and the slogan for this season is seen all around the city of Jacksonville and on television and radio ads. The Jacksonville Jaguars players, coaches and owner are all “all in” and its shown in everything they do.
Marketing groups for professional sports teams normally put a push behind their product. It’s used as something to assemble the masses in an upbeat manner and prepare them for the season. In fact, the slogan “All In” is not something we haven’t heard before. It has been used by a few sports franchises, even in professional football. It has popped up a lot in our recent pop culture. In its current usage, the term “all in” probably comes from the game of poker. When playing poker, a player may express his bet as “all in” essentially wagering everything he or she has. Since the early 2000s poker has exploded, specifically no-limit Texas Hold’em. It being one of the forms of play with no limitations in pot size and betting amounts, tends to see significant action from competitors, all of whom know that at one point through the course of their game they very well may be all in, whether they like it or not. In the game, when it’s a players turn to act they can check, bet or raise. All in is a form of a bet or raise where the player puts his chips at stake, but it also sends a message that the player is willing to risk it all on the current hand. By definition it has to be a strong move full of confidence. Whether a bluff or if you really have the best hand, your end result will be in you doubling your position that you were in before or making all your opponents fold to your bet.
So what does this all in bet mean for the Jacksonville Jaguars? Well if they’re going to use the term then they should know what it means and it’s repercussions. Poker players know that putting all their chips in one bet is a risky move and very well could see them sidelined. Do the Jaguars realize that, or are they just saying “all in” to be catchy? More importantly, if you started with a little, moving all in is more of a desperation move than anything. Jaguars only won five games last year. They didn’t come anywhere near the playoffs, so yes, it would seem that they are desperate to give their fans something to cheer for this season. But if you go all in, you can only win as much as you put in. Maybe it’s that effort that the Jaguars want to covey in their message. But then again, if you’re going up against a superior opponent, one with significantly more chips than you, your all in bet only prolongs your inevitable demise.
Not for nothin’ but the Jaguars shouldn’t gamble on their season. The correlation between the two types of games football and poker are quite significant. Of course they’re both competitive in nature, but the similarities don’t have to end there. As the Jacksonville Jaguars have reminded us, the terminology between the two can be interchangeable as well. The Jaguars are taking an all or nothing attitude to this season. Just from their previous position, their all in battle cry screams more desperation than strength. Just as a poker player has to have the best hand if his all in bet is called, the Jaguars are going to have to have put out a product that’s better than everyone else’s product. No team will fold to them as they go all in. Part of the desire for any player who pushes all in is making sure you have the goods. The other part is making sure everyone folds in case you don’t. If everyone folds and no one plays, you live on to play another hand no matter what. So as a favor to themselves, the Jacksonville Jaguars need to remember that. If you push all in, you will get called, and what happens after that is left on the table…or on the field in their case. They can talk a good game, but they have to back it up too. Fortunately for them, the all-in bet does work every time, but once.