Almost every fan roots for at least one inept sports team.
Idiotic owners, short-sighted GM’s, coaches who can barely work the clip on their clipboard — we inherit these people, these teams, based on who our fathers cheered on, where we went to college, or what city we were born into.
And then we’re stuck. Rooting for that team becomes part of our DNA. The emotional roller coaster of fanhood never stops — we have no control, we’re just along for the ride.
That is until former NFLers like Ahman Green, Ray Austin, and Al Wilson teamed up with a group of entrepreneurs to buy a team in the IFL (Indoor Football League) and start Project FANchise.
“We’re giving the fans the ability to play true fantasy football,” Austin says. “It doesn’t get any more realistic.”
You’re obviously wondering what the fans will actually get to do, and the answer is…everything.
Right now, fans are picking where the team will be located (Salt Lake City or Oklahoma City). When the city’s picked, fans will pick the general manager, coaches, logo, Miller Lite or Bud Light, Bieber or T-Swift, and most crucially: they’ll pick the plays.
FANchise will employ technology that will allow fans to choose the offensive plays in real-time. Want to throw a bomb on third and short? Make the selection and the quarterback will do as you command. Green, Austin, and Co-Founder Grant Cohen envision the plays being called by committee early on in the game, with top fans choosing specific plays in the fourth quarter. It’s real-life Madden, and that’s where Ahman, the Packers’ all-time leading rusher comes into play.
“What connects to me to this project is I’m a gamer,” Green says. “Everything is progressing forward with technology to where it makes sense to incorporate the fans into the game. We want to give them another angle.”
Green’s known in the gaming community for his button-pushing prowess and is working with the live streaming video game platform Twitch on creating his own channel. For him, FANchise represents the perfect combination of his two loves: real football, and virtual football.
“Sports fans are ‘fanatics,’” Cohen adds. “People like Coca-Cola, but they’re not fanatical about it the way people are about sports, and in particular the way Americans are with football.”
“The general idea is that fans aren’t a part of the day-to-day of their favorite team, and we think they could be, and should be.
CUT TO: Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns fans nodding emphatically.
The FANchise team is building out an app that will incentivize fans to improve the team. As fans become more and more engaged, they’ll accumulate points, and the fans with the most points will wield the most power.
The top fan for each home game will be given the owner package or “Jay Z package” where FANchise will fly the person out to the game, pick them up in a limo, buy them a suit, and then plop them in the owner’s box with steak and lobster. Sound too good to be true? Au contraire. It’s what happens when fans run the show…
So here’s the real question: what if this works? What if the IFL became a totally fan-run league?
“This first team is our proof of concept,” Austin says. “If it works, we’ll see…”
The founders believe having a more engaged fan base will drive more ticket sales, merchandise sales, and higher value sponsorship opportunities.
The Indoor Football League hasn’t been relevant since Kurt Warner suited up for the Iowa Barnstormers, but with FANchise entering the arena, things are about to get a helluva lot more interesting.