Last year, the Big Lead published ‘The Top 25 Most Influential People in Sports Business’. Dozens of other websites have created similar lists over the last decade. And none include “the fans”.
If fans of a particular sport or team mobilized, they could call the shots. Think about that. If the millions of NFL, NBA or MLB fans mobilized, they could harness more power than Roger Goodell, Jerry Jones, Adam Silver and Scott Boras combined. Sure, it’ll never happen but it doesn’t change the fact that sports fans have a remarkable amount of untapped power. That might be changing, thanks in part to leagues and teams giving fans a little power. And in the case of FANchise, a lot of power.
FANchise is a Los Angeles-based company that owns two teams in the Indoor Football League (IFL), the Colorado Crush and Salt Lake Screaming Eagles. And they’re letting the fans call the shots. From uniforms and coaches to playcalling and player signings, fans are running everything.
“We recognize that these are professionals who spent their whole careers doing this,” FANchise co-founder Grant Cohen told CBS Sports. “So they’re better than me, but are they better than a hundred of me? A thousand of me?”
FANchise is giving a steroid-like injection to fan-driven decisions that have become commonplace recently. In October, Washington State allowed fans to vote for their uniform combo for their homecoming game vs. UCLA. And last summer, Milwaukee fans voted on the Panther Arena court design.
“We’ve thought more about giving fans a voice,” Casey Carrick, director of athletic grounds and turf management at North Carolina, told HERO Sports. “[Fans voted on field design] for the spring game, and it was fun because we got everything. From ‘paint the whole field blue’ to ‘paint this’ or ‘use this’. We’ve talked with marketing about giving fans choices.”
It remains to be seen how far fan power can go but if the direction of FANchise and other leagues and teams are any indication, fans might soon join the list of most powerful sports figures.