Can I Invest in a Rock Cat? The Ultimate in Fantasy Sports

In Connecticut, the lack of professional sports combined with the astronomical prices of attending major league venues has created strong interest in minor league sports.  Minor league baseball, with teams in New Britain, Norwich and Bridgeport,  enjoys particularly strong fan support.  Now imagine if you could invest in your favorite minor league ball players from the Rock CatsDefenders and Bluefish.  Should your player-investments make the big leagues, you get paid – the ultimate in fantasy baseball.

In an extremely interesting article in msn.com’s money section, the concept of athletes selling shares of their major league earnings is discussed.  Randy Newsom, a minor league pitcher, has started his own company, Real Sports Investments (RSI), which sold shares in his future earnings should he make the majors.  Presently the business is not selling any shares, as Newsom is trying to address concerns raised by Major League Baseball (MLB).

 Without firsthand knowledge of MLB’s concerns, I have some questions of my own:

  1. RSI’s website includes the slogan “Now You Are the GM.”  Does that allow investors to weigh in on various matters relating to their investment’s career, such as with what team to sign; whether a player should demand a trade; whether a player should comply with a position change (think Tim Wakefield) or alter his pitching motion; or whether a player should demand a contract renegotiation?
  2. What relationship and interactions would the investors have with the player’s agent?  Should an agent or a board of directors be negotiating on behalf of the player?
  3. RSI claims that the business provides a form of insurance for players, who may or may not make the major leagues.  That makes sense.  But RSI also claims that this type of arrangement is common in professional golf and bowling.   Both golf and bowling are individual performer sports.  But baseball is a team sport, with owners and a union.  Can this concept work in a team sport?

In general, RSI’s idea is novel and carries appeal, especially to fantasy sports junkies.  Furthermore, it builds upon a trend of increased interest in the future stars – witness the NFL Draft’s television-friendly format this coming year; the exposure that ESPN gives to high school football players on national signing day; and the rise in scouting services that provide in-depth analysis of amateur players.  However, whether RSI presents a workable model, or whether fans will be allowed to invest in the futures of their favorite minor league athletes remains to be seen.

Comments

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