Lessons In How To Have Serious Fun, From The Saints

September 22, 2016
img_0242

Fast Horse is home to many avid sports fans, but I don’t count myself among them, which means I often find myself with little to add to sports-centric watercooler chats. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m immune to the burden shared by all Minnesotans: that punch-in-the-gut, sigh-inducing feeling that so frequently occurs when watching our local professional teams, season after season, year after year.

Sometimes it’s triggered by a certain MLB team flirting, yet again, with a 100-loss season. Sometimes it’s our top players being injured at the outset of a season, only to be dragged through some sort of restaurant en route to the locker room in their shiny new $1 billion stadium. I could go on, but you get the picture.

However, there’s a pro sports team in our other Twin City that just finished an admirable and exciting season – and they offered an incredibly fun fan experience in the process. I’m referring to the St. Paul Saints, who are known for their wacky marketing efforts and over-the-top game-day gimmicks.

To name a few: There are spontaneous appearances by Bill Murray, a part-owner of the Saints who has been spotted scanning tickets at the entrance gate and greeting guests. In addition to their mascot Mudonna (a human in a bright-pink pig costume), they have a real-life pig each season, which visits home plate between innings to be bottle-fed by the umpire. Past pigs have featured such pop-culture-savvy monikers as Notorious P.I.G./Piggy Smalls, Kim Lardashian and Kris Hamphries, and this year’s Little Red Porkette, in honor of a recently lost Minnesota legend.

There’s also an eclectic cast of recurring characters roaming the stands, including an elderly nun who gives massages, the “Nerd” with his suspenders and tape-covered glasses, the kimono-wearing karaoke singer, and my personal favorite: Coach, who barks orders at the crowd and blows a whistle while wearing legendary tube socks and donning one heck of a mustache. I also thoroughly enjoy themed nights, ranging from a world-record-setting pillow fight…

img_0239

…to Star Wars night, which included a memorable first pitch.

img_0043

But this season, the Saints offered more than fun antics – they played stellar baseball, resulting in a nail-biter of a playoff run ending in a close loss in game five of the division series. While I sat in the stands, watching the familiar sequence of pro baseball players hitting home runs, followed by men in drag dragging the infield (get it?), I realized how uncommon it is to find such a perfect intersection of unabashed, goofy fun and serious professional athleticism.

In a sense, it’s a similar balance that we strive to achieve at Fast Horse, as do many companies – cultivating a great culture by infusing both fun and exceptional results into each project. Sometimes it comes naturally, and sometimes it’s difficult, but this year’s Saints team provided some great inspiration and a quality reminder that good times, laughs and high-quality work are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re best when experienced together.

See you next year, Mudonna.

img_1699