Guest post: Chris Matyszczyk has found the perfect mashing of technology, fantasy and reality to fulfill his dream of owning a sports franchise.
There are probably enough readers of this site who, bored with their jobs, their sniveling, ignorant bosses and the fact that none of their co-workers find them beautiful, use their laptops to fulfill certain fantasies.
Sheesh, no, not those. This is ZDNet, not deedeenet (click on it, it's fabulous). I am talking specifically and only about fantasy sports. Whether your penchant happens to be football, basketball or baseball, you can pretend that you know something about them. At least more than that hoity-toity balding lawyer who sups one too many banana daiquiris in your local bar.
Every fantasy player (and I confess I succumbed to this behavior in 2002, when I came 13th in the world in ESPN’s Virtual GM. A sad period in my life) knows the feeling of going to a game and suddenly leaping like a loon because the likes of Eric Piatkowski has snagged his tenth rebound.
Even though his team might be down 20, and you are actually a fan of his opponents.
Now, the beauty that is technology has finally found a way for fantasy owners to become reality owners. A site called myfootballclub.co.uk has had an offer accepted for Ebbsfleet United. More than 50,000 fans have put up 35 of those very strong British pounds each in order to gain control of this admittedly minor league club (they’re not even the Las Vegas 51s).
For their money, the new directors will be able to do the following:
1. Pick the team. Oh, yes. Every Saturday night after the game, the owners can go online and not merely pick the personnel but also the formation. Regardless of how many Tsingtaos or Zywiec’s he’s had.
The Ebbsfleet United team (sponsored by eurostar), soon to be managed by 50,000 trustees who pay an annual £35 subscription, of which £27.50 goes for the football (er soccer) club and £7.50 for operating the member Web site.
2. Fire the coach. The current, nervous incumbent, former Irish international Liam Daish, has the right to put his point of view across on the site, but ultimately the 50,000 and growing board of directors can flick him with just one unified click.
3. Buy and sell players. Yup, as a reality fantasist, or should that be fantasy realist, you can get send Joe Snoggins to Coventry. (if they’ll have him.)
4. Have access to David Beckham’s cosmetic regime. And video of him changing into his underwear.
Yes, only the last one is not quite true. Although Mr. Beckham did, in fact, strip down to his underwear in front of all the cabin crew of a British Airways flight recently. Apparently, he urgently needed to put on his pjs. Perhaps he mistook one of the cabin crew, or his armrest, for Posh Spice.
Ebbsfleet United’s new directors (the deal should go through in January) represent 73 countries and have an average age of 27. Yes, it’s just another start up. Except for a few of the more fantastical implications.
How many of the directors will ever get to see the team play? Is it possible, in fact, that the majority of directors who will be making the decisions will never actually step on Ebbsfleet soil, and will never see an Ebbsfleet player put foot to ball? That’s a little like voting in an election without ever seeing any of the debates or examining any of the candidates’ policies. See how realistic this is?
And what happens when the team starts losing? Will the directors have no option but to blame themselves? Will the streets of the world be filled with thousands of Ebbsfleet directors in sackcloth and ashes beating themselves in the chest and screaming “WOE IS ME!!! I AM UNDONE!!!!” in 73 different languages? I mean, isn’t that what the blokes at Enron did?
And what if Ebbsfleet United is successful? Will Bill Belichick be replaced by the readers of Deadspin? Will Mark Cuban fire Avery Johnson and let the worshippers at BlogMaverick finally pick a good defensive team?
The possibilities are delicious.
I think this is an experiment that everyone in tech needs to follow very closely. In fact, I have invested 35 ridiculously Schwarzneggarian British pounds just to get on the inside of this unique step into the technological unknown.
Can the fantasists beat the realists?
One day, the people that made Beowulf will make a movie out of this.
Chris Matyszczyk has spent most of his career as an award-winning creative director in the advertising industry. He advises major global companies on marketing and creativity. Chris has also been a journalist, covering the Olympics, SuperBowl and other sporting events. He brings a non-techie's perspective to the tech world and a sharp wit to the rest of the world. Check out his "Pond Culture" blog.