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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Dan predicted the future of college sports

Catalyzing Fans (Harv. J. Sports & Ent. L. 2015) was Dan's last published paper, co-authored with Michael McCann (New Hampshire) and me. The paper was accepted several weeks before Dan's murder.

The topic and journal were ironic, since Dan did not know or like sportsball. He hatched the germ of an idea--fans crowdfunding to attract players to come to their favorite teams or to convince teams to sign and keep fan-favorite players--and came to Michael and me as people who do like and know something about sportsball. The proposal was marginally or indirectly practical when we were writing (2012-14). Marginally practical as to professional sports because actually player salaries dwarf whatever groups of fans can raise, meaning those funds are not likely to affect player or team choices (at least financially; perhaps the show of fan love has emotional effects). Indirectly as to college sports because players could not be paid for anything relating to their play or status as athletes; fan money could go to, for example, producing and distributing t-shirts to help recruit a star high-school athlete.

But then I learned about Michigan's One More Year Fund, which has been credited with helping retain many of the players who helped them win the college football national championship, and its new successor, the One More Year Fund, which raised more than $ 100,000 in three hours earlier this month. These funds operationalize Dan's idea--fans contribute any amount of money to a central committee that distributes the funds to players who, in this case, stay with the team rather than enter the transfer portal. And they have a direct and meaningful practical effect in college sports. Because players do not receive salaries from the universities and certainly not in the tens of millions annually, the hundreds of thousands or low millions that star players receive provide a meaningful income and thus a meaningful incentive to decide to return to the school.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 14, 2024 at 02:31 PM in Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


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