Categories
Uncategorized

FAN TAKE – INCREASING PLAYER SAFETY

By Annalece Montgomery

FAN Take is a series that highlights trending events, issues, and decisions in the world of sports and analyzes how they may or may not factor into the Fan Controlled Football League. We would love to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about each FAN Take!

Blinktbi is releasing a new device that would use an athlete’s blink reflex to search for symptoms that may indicate brain trauma or a concussion. The devise administers a 20-second test that tracks eyelid movement and reflex time in athletes by blasting five small puffs of air into their eyes. This device could potentially assess concussions in real time.

For reference, the National Football League Head Neck and Spine Committee’s guidelines for a concussion diagnosis stipulate amnesia, consciousness and confusion as symptoms that would keep an athlete from returning to the game, but they do not track less obvious concussion symptoms.

The product is set to hit the market next year, retailing at $10,000. To see it in action, click here. You may see some familiar faces backing the product, including veteran WR, Steve Smith Sr., who serves on the company’s Board of Advisors.

Now, we’ve touched on the NFL’s new helmet rule, and not only have some of our co-founders disagreed with it, but we also don’t think the fans would want it instated as a rule in the FCFL.  If we continue with this stance, it begs the question of what steps we can take to ensure the safety of our players. Since we are a tech forward organization, should we utilize tools like Blinktbi to help our athletes? Should we go beyond that and have players wear tracking sensors that monitor their heart rate and overall physical performance during practices and games? Or do you think wearables are too invasive to an athlete’s privacy? As our fans, you are the ones managing the rosters and invested in your players’ health, we want to hear from YOU!

Categories
Uncategorized

Knowing When Its Time To Retire

By Annalece Montgomery

Two big stars of the sports world made news this week with their retirements: Manu Ginobili and Eric Decker. Ginobili, winner of the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2007-08 made a name for himself as one of the most revered foreign players in NBA history during his 16 seasons.  Decker, a wide receiver with 8 seasons, 439 receptions for 5,816 yards and 53 touchdowns, was most recently with the New England Patriots.

Ginobili is the second Spur to retire from San Antonio’s power group of the 2000s – Tim Duncan retired in 2016 while Tony Parker is still rostered with Charlotte. He took to Twitter to make his announcement, showing “immense gratitude” to his family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff and fans that have been a part of the last 23 years of his life.

In a statement posted to his Instagram account, Eric Decker thank his family, friends and fans for the support throughout his career and looks ahead to the next chapter of his life. There has been speculation about whether or not Decker’s retirement was forced. After he had trouble catching passes and familiarizing with the Patriots’ offensive system, not to mention his absence in Friday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, he was not expected to make the team’s final 53-man roster.

It has us wondering what the fans would do if they had players with spectacular careers that weren’t cutting it anymore. Would they suggest that the players retired with dignity and grace, or would they cut them from the team without a second thought?

We think the world of our fans, and think they would go the first route. When you have a player give you their time, energy, heart and soul, you give them an opportunity to go out on their own terms.

Categories
Uncategorized

FAN Take – What’s In A Nickname

By Annalece Montgomery

FAN Take is a series that highlights trending events, issues, and decisions in the world of sports and analyzes how they may or may not factor into the Fan Controlled Football League. We would love to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about each FAN Take!

For the second year in a row, during MLB’s Players Weekend players will be wearing special jerseys with their nicknames on the back instead of their last names. This weekend, August 24-26, all eyes will be on the jerseys, not the ball.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these guys sharing photos of their jerseys on social media in the coming days, and frankly, there are some we’re pretty excited for. Some of our favorites that we can’t wait to see are Keynan Middleton (Angels, “Major Key”), Jake Marisnick (Astros, “Big Fudge”), Ken Giles (Blue Jays, “100 Miles Giles”), Carl Edwards Jr. (Cubs, “Stringbean Slinger”), and Drew Steckenrider (Marlins, “Steckasaurus”). For the full list of who is wearing what nickname, click here.

A few weeks ago, we shared a story a story about players having emojis featured on their jerseys instead of last names. While we did not do an official poll on whether or not the fans would like to see something like this incorporated in the FCFL, we received some quick “Please God no” responses, while others said they loved the concept.

How do we incorporate this into the FCFL – or better yet, should we incorporate this into the FCFL? Should athletes be allowed to pick their own nickname, or should a teammate decide for them? This could lead to some fun hijinks behind the scenes. Or better yet, should the fans vote for the names on their backs? If it’s not emojis or nicknames, how about Twitter handles, gamer tags, Insta names, or Twitch IDs? Whether or not we see nicknames – or anything other than last names – on the jerseys for our athletes, something tells us Co-Founder and Commissioner Ray Austin will be found frequently wearing a jersey featuring “The Commish” on the back. We want to hear from YOU on this hot topic, so let us know what you think!

 Power To The FANS!

Categories
Uncategorized

Sherman Rips NFL Rule, Again

By Annalece Montgomery

San Francisco 49ers cornerback and NFL Players Association Executive Committee member, Richard Sherman, is making headlines again by speaking out against the NFL’s controversial new helmet rule. You may remember that when the NFL first announced the rule earlier this month,  Sherman was frustrated with the rule, stating it will be ‘a disaster’.

Shortly after his team lost to the Houston Texans 16-13, Sherman turned to Twitter to let the world know how he really felt about the rule. “To all those ppl including those who made the rule. I want a video of YOU running full speed and being lead by anything but your head while also attempting to bring down a moving target. You will soon realize its impossible,” he tweeted, along with a video of a tackle from his teammate Raheem Mostert that drew a penalty flag. But he didn’t stop there. Sherman also shared a video of a rugby tackle, saying it would be penalized in the NFL and that the game will soon become the same thing as flag football.

Just a few weeks ago at training camps across the country, there were reports of officials still debating whether or not this penalty occurred in play. It raises the question of how the officials can be ready to properly call this penalty with only a few weeks before the regular season kicks off. Can the NFL expect officials to fully understand the rule when every time they try to clarify the rule, they only confuse people more?

In the first two weeks of preseason games, we’ve already seen over 25 penalties because of the new rule, with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles being tied for the most penalties. Our Co-Founders Sohrob Farudi (CEO), Grant Cohen (CPO), and Patrick Dees (CGO) debated the rule a couple weeks ago during FAN Call Friday, and their views on the matter aligned with Sherman’s. Tune in to see what they had to say, as well get a fantastic demonstration of the three-point stance from Sohrob.

So where do FCFL fans stand on this? While we think the fans do have concerns over serious head injuries to their favorite athletes, they are most certainly going to get sick of all the penalty calls very fast. The game is already long enough as is because of yellow flags being thrown here, there and everywhere, and adding this rule is only going to increase the frustration among the fans. If this rule were brought to a vote amongst the fans, we think they would strike it down by more than a landslide. The fans are here for their love of the game, not for the officials’ love of hearing their own voices after every penalty they call.

Categories
Uncategorized

FAN Take – Where to Find the Best Athletes

By Annalece Montgomery

FAN Take is a series that highlights trending events, issues, and decisions in the world of sports and analyzes how they may or may not factor into the Fan Controlled Football League. We would love to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about each FAN Take!

In an article last week, SB Nation looked at the readiness of Ivy League football being a contender for playoffs. Not since the 1950’s has Ivy League football been taken seriously as a post-season threat the likes of recent powerhouses Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson. As it stands, the Ivy League is the only FCS conference not to participate in the postseason, whether it be playoffs or a bowl game.

We know – there are so many bowl games out there, which one would they even be a contender for? Enter the Celebration Bowl. This season will mark the fourth year of the Celebration Bowl, which will feature champions of the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference, made up entirely of historically black colleges and universities) and MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) conferences.

Princeton’s head coach Bob Surace is angling for an Ivy-League-HBCU bowl matchup, which is not out of the realm of possibility since the conferences don’t receive an automatic bid for the FCS playoffs. “Why wouldn’t we work with historically black colleges and play them? Take a school like Grambling or Howard vs. Princeton or Columbia or whoever. You’re gonna hit a huge number on TV, and you’re gonna sell it out in Atlanta or New Orleans or Washington DC. Why wouldn’t we want to bring more attention?”

We’re with you, Bob – we want to see more attention brought to the underdogs, or literally just anyone that isn’t a part of the SEC, Big 10 or Big 12. The exposure of the games may bring bigger talent to the Ivy League and HBCUs, which will in turn bring bigger talent to organizations like the FCFL. Considering the fact that 10% of NFL players who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame were drafted from an HBCU – this includes Jerry Rice, Walter Payton (as in Walter Payton, NFL Man of the Year Award), and Michael Strahan, among others. It’s clear that the spotlight needs to be shown upon some of these lesser-watched conferences. How else are we going to find the best athletes if we aren’t given the opportunity to see them all?

We’re looking to the fans for their input here – should the NCAA give more opportunities to more schools to let their athletes shine on a national stage? Is the best NCAA talent restricted to powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State? Fans, where (what schools, conferences) do you want to see the FCFL draft players from? Let us know!

Power To The FANS!

Categories
Uncategorized

Bud Light: Beer of the Underdog

By Annalece Montgomery

Bud Light is making headlines once more by throwing their support to the underdog. It was announced this morning that Anheuser-Busch, who’s Bud Light brand is the official beer of the NFL, will be placing eight-foot “Victory” fridges filled with Bud Light bottles in Cleveland-area bars. The fridges are rigged with WiFi-enabled locks, keeping the contents off limits until the moment Cleveland fans have been waiting for since Week 16 of the 2016 season: a Browns victory.

The moment the Cleveland Browns get their first win of the season, fridges will be unlocked and the fans will be able to enjoy the beer free of charge – and who knows, maybe the soundtrack of a choir singing will be incorporated as well. But pessimistic Browns fans don’t need to worry, according to Bud Light’s VP of Marketing, Andy Goeler, the beer will be changed out every month as necessary in order to make sure the fans receive fresh product.

It’s an interesting collaboration, since most teams wouldn’t focus on the first win, but the Browns are all in on this promotion. “While some may characterize it as celebrating one victory, we view this as an opportunity to thank Browns fans for their unwavering support while also looking forward to our goal of rewarding Cleveland with a consistently winning football team,” said Dave Jenkins, the Browns Chief Operating Officer.

As fans are the decision-makers in the FCFL, we wonder which they would be more excited for: that first taste of victory – whether it’s the first fan-called touchdown or first win – or the inevitable glory (and share of the prize pool!) that comes with winning the first Fan Controlled Football League Championship.

Because this league is by the fans, for the fans, we think they will be more focused on the first taste. Truly, there is nothing like the rush you’ll get from making the play call for the first touchdown, executed to perfection by the team YOU drafted, wearing the uniforms YOU selected. Sure, for those that reach that point earlier in the season than others, we imagine their focuses would then shift to the long-term goal of bringing home the championship. At the end of the day, you need to cross off that first win before calling yourself a winner, let alone a champion.

Categories
Uncategorized

FAN Take – Dancing from The Endzone to The Sidelines

By Annalece Montgomery

FAN Take is a series that highlights trending events, issues, and decisions in the world of sports and analyzes how they may or may not factor into the Fan Controlled Football League. We would love to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about each FAN Take!

We at the FCFL have already expressed our admiration for creative endzone and sack celebrations – whether it’s Travis Kelce winning a potato sack race or the Minnesota Vikings playing duck, duck, goose. But what about the stellar performances from NFL cheerleaders?

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) celebrates a touchdown with his teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) ORG XMIT: CXB1

CNN reported that the NFL’s first male dancers will hit the sidelines this season. Both the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints will have male cheerleaders joining their squads.

For Los Angeles, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies have been preparing since they were named to the squad in March. After they made history, Jesse Hernandez was inspired to attend a clinic and try out for the New Orleans Saints’ Saintsations. He was selected to the squad in April.

The Rams and Saints aren’t the first to break away from traditional all-female cheerleading squads. The Green Bay Packers are known for using coed college cheerleading squads since 1988 – but at home games only. Meanwhile other teams, like the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens, feature stuntmen on their squads – but they do not perform the same routines side by side with the women.

Is there an opportunity for men and women to perform together on the FCFL sidelines? We’re looking to the FANS for input here! Our goal is to change how fans experience football, and that isn’t restricted to the play on the field or how you watch the game.  Do our fans want some form of sideline entertainment? Do they care who’s on the sidelines – Ladies? Gentlemen? Kids? Do they even think the entertainment needs to be in the venue? What if FCFL team cheer squads are virtual? Cheer avatars anyone? Fans, what can you dream up? Let us know!

Power To The FANS!

Categories
Uncategorized

When the Time is Right for Contract History

By Cole Hammes

News has been flying around the NFL about a contract extension for the great Odell Beckham Jr. Many sources are saying he could be the highest paid receiver and some say the Giants are looking for a little less. Point is, the Giants are looking to keep their fan favorite hanging around and they’re willing to pay close to top dollar for him.

Odell couldn’t be happier for his future as NFL insider Herbie Teope released that “Beckham’s agent, Zeke Sandhu, and the Giants over the past several days were engaged in ‘good-faith negotiations’ on a deal that would make Beckham the highest-paid wide receiver in the league”. The Giants are looking to run a solid offense for the next years with new RB Saquon Barkley. However, with an aging Manning and one of the worst defenses in the league, how can we be sure they’ll have the money in the coming years to upgrade? According to ESPN, the Giants want to hold back a little more dough and value him “below WR Sammy Watkins, who has an average annual value of $16 million in his current deal”. Whatever extension goes down, its going to make Odell Beckham Jr. one of the highest paid receivers, but is the time right?

The Giants executives know what they’re doing, but this could potentially be something to take a step back from. They need to think about what this man can really do for this team in the long run, especially playing with this kind of money and his history of injuries.

Of course with the fans in charge here at FCFL we ask this question, should the Giants make history with the largest contract for a wide receiver even after an injury-riddled season?

We think fans would be willing to sign Odell to the biggest contract for a wide receiver in the NFL. In the years Odell has been in New York, he’s become attached to that organization and the fans are going to miss him if he leaves. Not to forget, the fans realize with Saquon Barkley and Odell, they could have one of the most powerful offenses in the NFL for the future. An extreme double threat would be hard to stop and hard to come by. Not to mention with Eli Manning’s contract expiring in two years, the Giants will have plenty of money to upgrade again at quarterback and continue improving their defense. The fans know that by then, Barkley should be developed enough to make the run they need to win with Odell.

If you were part of that Giants’ front office, what would you do?

Categories
Uncategorized

The Brave New World of Blockchain

By Sohrob Farudi and Tom Segal

Originally Posted on Innovate by Hashtag Sports on July 31, 2018

2018: what a thrilling, engaging, often overwhelming time to be alive, especially for the sports fan. The sheer volume of content to consume and forums to discuss said content and forums to discuss the discussion of said content dwarfs any sort of fandom activity that preceded it.

The modern sports fanatic is employed full-time in their fanaticism. Blink, and you will miss some bit of action.

There is perhaps no better example of this than the recent Ringer-induced Bryan Colangelo fiasco – a night that will live in infamy for NBA Twitter. If you went to sleep that evening before 10 PM (like, say, a reasonable adult might do), you missed a flurry of activity that, while captured on SportsCenter and countless blogs to follow, could never be fully understood unless you were there, reading the breaking news when the article was first published, watching Reddit unearth sketchy old tweets, following along as modern NBA luminaries such as Joel Embiid and Danny Ainge tossed copious shade on Twitter.

We were witnessing the unfathomable professional collapse of a man who came from one of the true power families in basketball history – who had previously won the NBA Executive of the Year award – and the first two acts of this Shakespearean drama played out in front of our very eyes, fans and GMs and players alike. While it ultimately took a couple weeks to unfold, the third act was plain as day: Colangelo, coming off a season many viewed as the start of a new NBA dynasty, the culmination of “The Process,” with a real chance at landing Lebron James in free agency, was done. There was simply no recovering from Burnergate.

This whole episode, completely a product of the modern sports consumption mechanism (imagine explaining Burnergate to anyone a decade ago?), could serve as a shining example of why the NBA is running laps around other professional sports leagues in 2018: its relationship with its digital fans (and the players’ recognition of the value of this relationship) is simply unparalleled.

And this is where the rest of the sports world must be heading. With an army of millions of devoted fans, smartphones at the ready, desperately seeking increased access, increased engagement, there is a MASSIVE opportunity to leverage decentralized passion and energy into a transcendent product. Even the NBA, quite frankly, is just scratching the surface.

Aside from smartphone access and the rise of fantasy sports (both of which are long-cemented by now as powerhouses in the pro sports industry), two recent developments should soon shake the core of what we know of the fan experience moving forward: the legalization of sports betting in the United States and the advent and spread of blockchain technology.

The modern sports fanatic is employed full-time in their fanaticism. Blink, and you will miss some bit of action.

Fantasy sports (which reached a new level of power in the smartphone era, like Barry Bonds dipping into his first batch of the cream and the clear) was the first major step toward true fan engagement since the proliferation of video games in the 1980s. For the first time, fans felt a true sense of ownership over an athlete’s individual performance in a way that could yield tangible results for that fan, even if that result is simply the ability to talk sh*t to one’s friends. Everyone thinks they are smarter than the GM and front office of their favorite team: fantasy sports provided a (very light-touch) opportunity to prove it.

But really, why does a team need such a front office construct at all? The scientific community has all but confirmed the idea that hive mind and “wisdom of the crowd” is almost always the superior approach to relying on one person’s assessment, however wise or informed they may be. This is why the ant is undoubtedly the king of the natural world – one entity made up of millions of individuals operating in collective unison. To borrow from the Abstract of a recent study in Nature Magazine:

“Once considered provocative, the notion that the wisdom of the crowd is superior to any individual has become itself a piece of crowd wisdom, leading to speculation that online voting may soon put credentialed experts out of business. Recent applications include political and economic forecasting, evaluating nuclear safety, public policy, the quality of chemical probes, and possible responses to a restless volcano.”

I think it is safe to say that if crowd wisdom has advanced applications in nuclear safety and volcano activity, it has a real opportunity to take hold in something as relatively benign as building the roster of a sports team or calling plays during a game. And further, unlike other potential applications, the group here lending their thoughts (aka sports fans) DESPERATELY seeks an outlet to engage; so much so that they would likely be willing to pay for their own services. The thought of an unpaid intern is almost laughable in the face of a fan willing to pay for the chance to do work, and yet that is a realistic opportunity for sports franchises in the immediate future.

This could be done rather simply through just a standard voting process – should the pitcher throw a fastball or a slider? – and, in fact, it has been done before. As far back as 1951, legendary MLB owner Bill Veeck created the idea of “fansourcing,”wherein the crowd at the Athletics game was given signs of “Yes/No” to essentially vote on strategic decisions. Of course, smartphone apps make this process a bit more scientific… and a bit more hidden from the opponent.

But if the democratization of strategic decisions is to truly succeed, especially with the dawn of a new era of legalized sports gambling (where all this new money will bring with it an enhanced level of scrutiny), simple voting mechanisms will not suffice. There are too many careers at stake: too many athletes who will rely on the outcomes of fan voting for their livelihood, too many corporations engrossed in the coming multibillion dollar industry. Basic polling on a website or app is not enough. Transparency will become the most influential of all commodities. There can be no room for ambiguity.

And this is where blockchain comes in. If we are to reach a new level of sports fan engagement through the democratization of strategic decisions, to open up the world of professional sports to the “wisdom of the crowd” (and reap the financial benefits along the way), it is absolutely crucial that all parties involved remove any doubt from that process. Blockchain technology, wherein all votes are essentially tied to previous votes on a publicly available ledger, is the simplest form of transparency that exists in the world today. With sufficient decentralization, it is a hack-proof system. And for fans and players alike to accept this hive mind approach to strategic decision making, hack-proof is absolutely crucial.

Of course, there is more to the fan experience than the literal action on the field and the interactive gambling that accompanies it. What do die-hard fans want most for Christmas (or whichever celebratory holiday warrants gift giving)? How about a game-used jersey signed by their favorite player? Or perhaps tickets to opening day? Blockchain is about to revolutionize these industries – ticketing and memorabilia – through a granularly-tracked process of procurement and distribution.

Sports memorabilia is itself a billion-dollar industry; one where authenticity is the most prized possession. Fans are not paying for just any jersey: they want thatjersey from the game. They want to own a piece of history – the dirt, the grass stains, the… perspiration? (ok, memorabilia can get a little weird if you think about it). Fans desperately care about these items, so much so that a viable black market exists to drive their prices. Who can forget the frantic manhunt that ensued following the theft of Tom Brady’s jersey from Super Bowl XLIX? That single article of clothing yielded cover stories on newspapers and an international investigation by the FBI.

You’d think by now, we would have a mature market for such expensive gear, and yet, ask Eli Manning and the New York Giants about authenticity. On second thought, better not. That trial is still ongoing.

If an NFL star is directly involved in efforts to circumvent authenticity, just imagine how much fraud exists across the scope of memorabilia trade? Blockchain, however, presents a technological solution to this problem, where game-used items can be verifiably tracked from the field to the auctioneer to the mancave (or wherever it is Eli Manning’s sweat-stained jerseys are sold and housed). Each step in the lifecycle of that dirty, sweaty jersey now clearly outlined via a digital ledger, holding all parties involved in the transaction directly accountable.

Like the world of memorabilia, the event ticketing industry will surely benefit from blockchain’s powers of transparency. Counterfeit has long been a thorn in the event industry, as has a murky resale market (secondary ticketing accounted for over $15 BILLION in global revenue in 2017). Blockchain protocols could directly tie a seat in an arena to the initial purchaser, creating a unique ticket ID and helping sports franchises and stadiums more clearly understand their customer. This use case extends well beyond just sports fans, with music concerts and theater being major opportunities. There are already several prominent ventures seeking to bring blockchain to the ticket procurement industry, such as AventusUpgraded, and Blocktix (among other players). Given how many tickets are already housed on smartphone apps like SeatGeek or StubHub, blockchain-based ticket distribution is sure to dominate in the very near future.

It’s an exciting time to be a sports fan – even if you miss the occasional late-night Twitter meltdown. The rise of blockchain will help ensure a viable transition to a brave new digital world.

Categories
Uncategorized

FAN TAKE – ATHLETES GETTING INVOLVED

By Annalece Montgomery

FAN Take is a series that highlights trending events, issues, and decisions in the world of sports and analyzes how they may or may not factor into the Fan Controlled Football League. We would love to hear your feedback, so let us know what you think about each FAN Take!

It’s easy for an athlete to get caught slipping up in the public eye by saying or doing the wrong thing, especially on social media. But for a star athlete like LeBron James, it’s much easier to get noticed for doing something good in the community. Thanks to the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron (Ohio) Public Schools, a new elementary school for at-risk children in James’ hometown opened this week. He tweeted out that the first day of school “is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest)” of his life. In addition to the I Promise School opportunity, he has arranged for free tuition to the University of Akron starting in 2021 for all students that pass through the school successfully. The goal for James and the leaders of his foundation is to have more that 1,200 children pass through the school and into college by 2029.

James isn’t on his own here, plenty of other athletes are praised for the work they do in the community and through various non-profits. JJ Watt dominated the news circuit after Hurricane Harvey decimated Houston, TX and his fundraising efforts topped $37M. David Beckham and Serena Williams work as ambassadors with UNICEF. Albert Pujols, along with his wife, run the Pujols Family Foundation, geared toward providing resources for families and children who live with Down syndrome. The list goes on and on.

Should FCFL athletes be required to give back? We will definitely be getting involved at the team and league level with important causes. As fans, what causes are important to you? Do you believe we should require our athletes to participate and volunteer their time? How should we direct our efforts to give back? As our fans, you are the decision makers, and we want to hear from YOU!

Power To The FANS!