You'd think, given the gobs of time and cash invested by millions of drooling halftards (raising hand proudly) in any number of fantasy-related endeavors, that few other publishing concepts would be an easier sell. Hell, there are something like 49 publications for cat owners (FYI, you'll know I've stopped giving a shit when I get around to reviewing Kittens USA), but only seasonal, sport-specific mags for fantasy aficionados? I don't get it.
Clearly the audience is there. Nearly 37 million people play fantasy football, according to this dippy story; there are fantasy sports trade associations and fantasy sports conferences and fantasy player insurance providers. There are four-sided clocks for use at fantasy drafts (not that anybody would be able to view them over the forbidding mountains of nachos) and Jostens wannabes who, for $99, will personally engrave a fantasy-league championship ring. We are a sad, sad lot, we who devote our hours to this virtual pastime.
Take me as an example. In the days leading up to my keeper-league fantasy football draft, I've been devoting no fewer than eight of my daily waking hours to "research"; by comparison, I'm spending 17 minutes per day on dopey magazine columns and 38 seconds on personal hygiene. I have an itemized to-do list, which includes reminders to lightly starch my "Commish" T-shirt, engrave our league trophy (the "Dork Bowl") and configure our league Web site. I'd pay whatever a publisher asked for a magazine that takes all of this crap and compiles it in a single place.
Here's my business plan (and keep in mind that I have as much idea how to launch a publication as I do a satellite): an eight-times-per-year magazine, with "double issues" in March (pre-fantasy baseball) and August (pre-football). Content will include the obvious (player rankings, keepers/sleepers), but ideally communicated with a bit more flair than the current titles on the market. To wit, here's a sentence from Fantasy Football Index, which is my favorite of the current crop of titles: "Plaxico Burress is one of the league's most talented wide receivers." Tonally, I'm thinking Deadspin.com meets "Moneyball."
Where this magazine would distinguish itself would be in its supplementary content. Which league/stat providers are the best? No existing mag touches that question, as those providers make up a large percentage of the advertiser base. Which technologies best enable fantasy fandom? Do people who matter (read: celebrities, baby) dork out over fantasy sports as embarrassingly as the rest of us? How can you balance the demands of real life and fantasy idiocy? (You think I'm kidding with that last one, but I'm writing a story now about a guy who was ordered by his doctor to lay off the fantasy football.)
Separately, can you tell that I've thought this through for all of 50 minutes?
As for who could pull this publication off... well, that's the tricky part. On the commerce side, guys and gals who like fantasy sports aren't exactly shy about throwing their money around on supporting technologies: laptops to track their teams, stat-enabled cell phones, big-screen TVs to hurl drinks at when Brett Favre completes yet another pass to the opposing cornerback, etc. But Sharp and Motorola aren't going to pay a whole lot of attention to some upstart publisher shmendrick, so we'd have to go the sports/men's-mag publishing behemoth route here.
In the wake of Sports Illustrated's ten-years-behind-the-times fantasy football preview a few weeks ago, I think we can safely eliminate them from consideration. CBS SportsLine has both the brains and the resources (full disclosure: I write a weekly column for them), as do the Dennis Publishing folks (full disclosure: them too). ESPN could obviously pull it off, so long as Stu Scott and Chris Berman are constitutionally banned from participating.
Surely I'm not the first to have come up with this concept, and surely anybody with a brain and/or real-world publishing experience can poke about 200 holes in it. Nonetheless, if executed with a modicum of intelligence and wit, this idea could make somebody a few barrels of cash. Or not. Either way, feel free to thank me in the first editor's note.
That is all.