Hello World — Introducing the FCFL and the FAN Token
Introducing the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL): the first professional sports league truly designed for the digital age — putting fans in control of their sports entertainment experience.
There has never been a better time to be a fan of professional sports.
The rise of digital connectivity and ubiquitous mobile access has sparked a predictable transformation across the world of professional sports: fans are engaging more frequently and more comprehensively than ever before. Outlets for consumption are rapidly expanding and increasingly accessible at your fingertips. Fantasy sports has seen steady growth, accelerated by smartphone proliferation, from sports-nerdy niche to billion-dollar media industry. The Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) craze, despite regulatory hurdles, accounted for an astounding $3 billion in 2016, just a couple of years into its existence. Fans flock to Facebook and Instagram to vent, collaborate, praise, and mourn. Reddit has become a hub for super-fans to share theories and rumors. Terms like “NBA Twitter” have achieved ubiquity as a defined community: an active part of the second-screen experience.
And yet the leagues that provide this content remain hesitant to change with the times; mired in the same old-school mentality of proprietary ownership and dismissing their fan’s desires for ongoing consumption.
Remember this phrase?
“ANY REBROADCAST, REPRODUCTION, OR OTHER USE OF THIS TELECAST WITHOUT THE EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF [insert league name here] IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.”
Unless you watch closely, you may not see it written so explicitly on the screen as you once did in the days of VCR recordings (millennials, ask your parents), but the mentality persists. Try posting a video on Twitter of a Kris Bryant home run and see how quickly your account gets suspended (YABO!). While the major sports leagues reap the benefits of digital connectivity, they often appear entirely resistant to new technological adoption, both on the field of play and in the medium of fan-driven consumption.
It is increasingly clear that people are clamoring for access to and interactions with their favorite athletes. Fans want more fantasy outlets, they want to gamble, they want to chat via text or video with the hero from this week’s game, they simulate game play in franchise modes through video games like Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K for hours and days at a time. They want MORE.
We will give them just that.
Today, I am pleased to introduce the world to the FCFL, the first professional sports league where fans will serve as head coach and general manager. The FCFL puts the fans in the driver’s seat, tasked with everything from hiring coaches and directing player personnel to literally making real-time play calls during the games. The FCFL fan is part-GM, part-coach, part-fantasy football extraordinaire.
We spent the past two years fine-tuning our platform and operations with the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles in the Indoor Football League (and yes, that name was voted on by the fans). The Screaming Eagles made their debut in February of 2017 as the first ever fan-controlled professional sports team on the planet, and the pilot yielded not only 100,000+ fans from over 100 countries actively streaming our games and calling plays through our app, but also a successful football team. With fans at the helm calling all the offensive plays, the Screaming Eagles had the third-ranked offense in the league, and quarterback Verlon Reed was named rookie of the year. Through partnerships with Sports Illustrated and Amazon’s online eSports video platform Twitch, we amassed millions of views, most of which came from first-time viewers of the IFL. We were covered by outlets such as Wall Street Journal, ESPN, New York Times, Slate, Washington Post, USA Today, Fox Business, Reuters, Yahoo Sports, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, SportTechie, GeekWire and Uproxx.
And now we are taking the lessons learned from the Screaming Eagles and applying them to an entire league experience.
Unlike traditional sports leagues, our players will be encouraged to showcase both their on-field talents and their personalities. They will not be fined or penalized for taking off their helmet and celebrating a big play. They will not cost their team 15 yards; instead, the most creative touchdown celebrations will be rewarded. Fans will vote for the best performance each week. And while old-school leagues are rooted in traditional broadcasting productions, we will be on the cutting edge, allowing fans to access video of any play from many angles — even from the perspective of our players via helmet-cams.
Rather than stifle innovation in favor of the conservative, we will embrace technology and provide fans with the experience that they desire. In fact, we are literally building the league on the blockchain with FAN token, an ERC20-compatible Smart Token that uses the Bancor protocol. All fan activity in the league will rely on FAN tokens, from voting on the coach to real-time play-calling. The more active a fan becomes, the more FAN tokens they will earn; and the more FAN tokens a fan possesses, the more power they will have over team decisions. Fans with the largest pools of FAN tokens will be eligible for VIP benefits such as tickets, prizes, exclusive events, and more. We will be maintaining a fan leaderboard to showcase which play-callers have proven most successful for each team. The top fans from the championship-winning team will even have the chance to share in the million-dollar purse.
The FCFL game itself will be more in-tune with the excitement desired by the modern fan: a seven-on-seven, 50-yard field with a set of rules that will encourage a fast-paced and wide-open style of play; reducing penalties and other stoppages while eliminating special teams to deliver high-intensity play from start to finish. We will deliver non-stop action with one-hour games played consecutively, all from the same field: our studio.
Combining a traditional sports arena with a high-tech production studio, the FCFL’s Studio Arena will be designed to operate more like a production studio than a typical stadium. It will be tailored to deliver a truly interactive and immersive sports entertainment experience to fans on any connected device around the world. Expertly-piloted drone cams will deliver up-close, captivating shots unprecedented in any professional sport. Embedded helmet cameras on every player will put viewers in the middle of every big play and punishing hit. Wearable sensors and in-arena technology — even embedded in the game ball itself — will provide a constant stream of data to enhance broadcasts and push the envelope of football analytics, helping fans make the best possible decisions from roster moves to play calls.
The league will begin with eight new teams, each with a roster of 18 players selected by fans in the first every fan-led draft. There will be two divisions of four teams each. The top team in each division will make the playoffs along with two wildcard teams that can be from either division. The season will consist of a 16-game regular season with two playoff games and a championship game, and unlike traditional sports leagues, teams and their fans will be competing for a significant cash prize during the season — a minimum of $1,000,000. Players, coaches, and the top fans of the team that wins the championship game will share the purse. The exact split of the prize between players, coaches, and fans will be one of the many decisions fans get to make in the months leading up to our first kickoff.
The modern fan expects a level of access and production quality rarely delivered to them by the sports leagues that they so passionately consume. We know this because we live it every day; WE ARE the modern fan. And with FAN token powering the very backbone of league operations, FCFL fans will literally be at the controls of how the league adapts to fit their desired product. The rising force that is eSports has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that consumers want real-time, mobile, digital interaction, and THEY want to be at the wheel.
It’s about time that modern fans had a sports league that gave them the product they deserve.
Welcome to the FCFL. Power to the FANS!
Sohrob Farudi (@sohrobf)
CEO of the Fan Controlled Football League