Assembling a great team by asking fans who they want to see

Professional sport teams can improve their rosters by crowdsourcing ideas from their fan base.

Many fans of professional sports teams go online and rant about their team’s decisions in assembling a roster. In a myriad of sites such as ESPN, Grantland, Bleacher Report, RealGM and more, fans comment on actual roster moves or hypothetical moves suggested by writers and bloggers. Fans come up with their own moves and discuss them feverishly with other fans. But what if fans had a structured way to tell a team’s management how they would like to see the team’s roster and suggest ideas?

In professional sports, often the success of a team is determined by management’s performance in the offseason more than the players’ performance in the regular season where teams actually compete one against the other. If management assembled a championship squad, by signing or trading for the best players, chances are the team will perform well and vice versa.  However, many fans of failing organizations are dumbstruck when management makes an ill-advised move such as trading away a fan favorite or signing the wrong guy for a long contract.

Assembling a roster in professional sports has become very complicated because of salary cap constraints and collective bargaining agreements. There are seemingly endless opportunities to sign and trade players and to come up with those ideas, teams employ a General Manager and a group of scouts who are responsible to evaluate talent, asses what other teams are interested in and come up with sign and trade ideas and then try to execute on those ideas. Some teams are blessed with great GMs, some have awful ones, but all teams have many great fans with great ideas.

A sports team’s greatest asset is its fan base. Teams with a large fan base sell more tickets, more merchandise and sell its TV rights for greater sums. However, teams can also utilize their fan base to get ideas on how to assemble the roster by suggesting trade ideas and which players to sign. Teams have highly engaged fans who know the team inside out. Fans know who they want to see on their team, who they will pay to see wear the team’s uniform. Fans also know who they don’t want to see on their team and should be traded away. In addition, surely there are creative ideas that fans will come up with that management has not thought about. Moreover, teams can use such a platform to gauge how fans will react to a move a team is thinking of.

The value for the teams is to make better roster decisions and gauge fans’ reaction to roster moves before a team pulls the trigger on a move. The value for fans is the opportunity to influence the move their beloved franchise makes. Today fans discuss such decisions in many sites usually through forums or comments on posts. Creating a structured platform for fans to make suggestions will help fans engage in a more meaningful and efficient way.

For the creators of the platform there are several ways to monetize the platform. The most interesting is to build a fan insight tool for teams and sell that through a SaaS model. Teams would love to understand what their fans want to see because that will increase ticket sales and viewer ratings. Also, agents might be interested on what fans think because they can use that information in negotiations. An additional revenue stream would be monetizing the traffic on the site by advertisements.


Moleskine created a “Molescheme” through failed crowdsourcing effort


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Student comments on Assembling a great team by asking fans who they want to see

  1. Thanks for sharing this idea! As an avid sports fan, I understand the desire to want to play a more active role in a franchises’ roster. However, I am not sure that a franchise would want to listen to the crowd here. If the goal is to win championships, I would leave roster development to the experts, who know how to scout and analyze relevant statistics. And if the goal is to make money, I would worry that a small but vocal minority would dominate. Some players have cult followings that are not necessarily representative of the average fan.

    Plus, many fans are fickle. They like a player one day and then throw him under the bus the next day. Can you imagine this type of platform in Philadelphia? The crowd would turn into a mob and might even (further) deter plays from wanting to play there.

    I would recommend other ways to gauge fan interest in players. Franchises can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media to see how generates the most buzz. And there are always numbers like jersey sales.

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