FTT doesn't know about you (well, OK, you seem nice enough, but that guy over there really needs to put on a shirt), but this whole Tim Hardaway / John Amaechi thing just made us shake our head in a dismissive fashion for, well, long enough that the other people on the train thought we had Eisenreich's Disease. (Hey, how come Lou Gehrig gets all the fun?)
Maybe we've lived in Blue State America for too long, or just stopped feeling insecure about our sexuality since we stopped charging for hand jobs, but good grief, people... the existence of gay athletes. Really such a big deal? Call us back when a lover's spat makes someone throw a game, or causes a team to self-destruct. You know, when it actually matters to a team winning or losing.
Rather than give you the standard sportswriterly spin on how Hardaway is a Neanderthal, Amaechi is selling books, children are confused and gosh, there's an agenda / bigotry going on here... FTT wants to press the fast forward button on the old Sports DVR, and see what the world looks like in 20 years, when our kids are old enough to still not give a damn about sports.
Luckily enough for you, we also happen to be, um, like, mystic and shit.So without further useless pre-amble to the following list of dubious predictions, FTT Presents... The Sports Future!
- Several women will play minor league baseball, and one will make it to the major league level, as a marginal late inning situational / fluke delivery reliever for a downtrodden franchise. (Think Chad Bradford with tits. Now, for the love of all that is holy, stop.)
She will do well from an endorsement/celebrity standpoint, but no flood will follow her example, because there just aren't going to be enough women who can hit 90 on the gun, and the second one who throws 85 will get no real coverage. There will be no similar player in the NBA or NFL.
- Boxing will make a serious comeback in the guise of Ultimate Fighting, with quasi-mainstream acceptance following the money of growing pay-per-view revenue.
A crossover talent will reclaim some of the luster of past heavyweight champions. Traditional boxing will be further marginalized as talent moves to UFC, and more importantly, the Big 3 sports that don't carry an extraordinary risk of permanent brain damage.
- The NBA will expand to Europe, South America and Asia, adding six to eight teams in total, but will continue to languish behind the NFL and MLB in television ratings.
At the heart of the problem is the fact that 82 regular season games are just too numerous to have football's scarcity, and too expensive to attend to have baseball's routine attachment and rhythm.
- The NFL will suffer some mild erosion in ratings, as saturation of the market and a broad combination of small missteps (the NFL Network, ESPN's MNF coverage, a looming steroid and HGH problem, dilution of the product over multiple days of the week, broadcast media ad buys taking a hit from the Web, etc., etc.) combine to make the product less interesting to fringe markets.
It will still be #1, but it won't be bulletproof any more, and attendance will fluctuate as weak teams look for greener pastures.
- Several openly gay athletes will become publicly known in major and friendly media markets, but only at the major league level -- not the minors.
The media will care more about us than the players and fans, since the cost of a ticket, vigilant stadium security and fantasy sports are slowly but surely taking the piss and vinegar out of most crowds (hell, that's a bonus prediction), and the story will eventually only be covered if there if the sexuality of a player is linked to a change in the level of performance.
- Two widely loved and hated sports dynasties -- the Yankees and the WWE -- will not survive the deaths / retirements of their patriarchs.
The Yanks will become just another team after the new Mets stadium brings them closer to economic parity, and MLB will take another chunk out of the mystique by upping the ante on revenue sharing / luxury taxes, to try to get the two outliers (Yanks, Red Sox) in line.
The WWE will fracture into small regional plays, as new generations get their low-culture kicks from interactive entertainment, rather than passive. (Who wants to watch a face hit a heel over the head with a steel chair when you can *be* either role in Second Life, without the damage? Well, me neither, but then again, we're old.)
- The same democratizing forces of online punditry that changed Old Media in the political arena (good bye, wanker magazines and > wingbag television shows, hello, wanker blogs and windbag Webcasts) will have their day in sports coverage.
ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sportsline and the other top traffic plays in the market will be unable to keep market share with sites that are fresher, have less of a corporate safety edge, and have a dramatically better "viral" distribution, especially since these sites will be able to tap into a fully wired readership base that provides additional content and makes its own traffic. (Prove this by sending this post to 20 friends. You know you want to.)
Regrettably, FTT will not cash in on this trend, because while we're good at spotting crap like this, we're pathetic at making money from it. Buy stock in Deadspin/Gawker Media.