Remember the old NFL promotional pitch “Are you ready for some football?”
Well, this Super Bowl Sunday, it just might as well be “Are you ready for some bingo?” thanks to Daniel Island resident and businessman Steve Ferber and his daughters, Olivia and Melyssa.
The dynamic trio are the owners of Sideline Sports, a creation born in 2007 that allows everyone from the casual to the die-hard fan a chance to be interactive and engaged when watching a sporting event in a stadium, at home or even in a sports bar by playing virtual bingo, which has a unique twist.
Sunday, Sideline Sports has its day in the NFL sun when the New England Patriots battle the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, which will be contested at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
How does it work? Well, this isn’t your grandmother’s bingo.
Instead of waiting to hear “B-10, N-32” or “O-69,” fans can go to the Super Bowl LIII App, search for the Super Bowl Bingo game and download it. It’s a virtual card and looks just like a bingo card with a free space in the center of the 5-across, 5- down card. It plays almost just like the regular bingo game.
But here’s the twist. While regular bingo revolves on letters and numbers, this revolves on what happens on the field, such as “Brady throws a touchdown, Gurley rushes for 10 yards” or “kickoff returned past the 25-yard line.” There are 85 events that can happen in the game and each virtual card randomly receives 24 of them. And of course, there’s the free spot.
Fans can win autographed NFL and Super Bowl merchandise if their card turns out to be a winning card on Sunday.
Sideline Sports specializes in fan engagement and produces products (both physical and digital) that keep fans engaged. The company has more than 300 clients in North America, including professional sports teams, college teams, race tracks and sports bars. Clients include Churchill Downs, the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Dynamo and more than 90 colleges.
Ferber’s creation includes 16 varieties of Sports Bingo. So if football is not your sport of choice, you can opt for such diverse sports as Rugby Bingo, Field Hockey Bingo and even Greyhound Racing Bingo. Swimming Bingo and Bowling Bingo could become a reality.
Ferber grew up in New York City and was an avid and long-suffering New York Jets and Mets fan before moving to Virginia to raise a family. He continued his journey south and now lives on Daniel Island.
If Ferber were to play Mets Bingo, game events might include “Mets turn two, sacrifice bunt” or “5-3 putout.”
So just how did Ferber come up with the idea of sports-related bingo? He and some family members planned a Major League baseball junket that covered five cities in eight days. He figured the women in his family wouldn’t make the trip because it meant watching so much baseball in such a short time.
He figured wrong.
The women joined the men, but Ferber then feared they might “be bored to tears.” So he came up with Baseball Bingo. He knew he had a home run when his wife, Roe, asked if he had bingo cards for the remaining games on the trip.
His daughter, Olivia, thought it would be a sustainable business, and six weeks later Sideline Sports was born.
If Ferber isn’t familiar with a sport, he learns it until he’s an expert. That includes cricket and rugby. He increased his rugby knowledge by digesting a 254-page PDF file. Now, Ferber will celebrate his creation when the biggest sporting event in the world is contested. (Credit: Daniel Island News)
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