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WhatIfSports.com
Whatifsports color logo.gif
URL www.whatifsports.com
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Sports simulation
Registration Optional
Owner News Corporation
Created by Tarek Kamil
Launched 1999
Current status Active

WhatIfSports.com is a company based in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. that specializes in online sports simulations and fantasy-style games. It uses custom sports simulators to allow users to match teams from any era and generate a complete play-by-play of a game. Simulations can be run for free, or users can build custom teams consisting of players from any generation and join leagues with their friends for a fee. Results are based on each player's combined stats from previous seasons.

The site won the 2005 Webby award as the best sports website and claims more than 400,000 users as of 2006.

Contents

Company history

Founded in 1999, WhatIfSports was a side project of a couple of sports fans working for a computer consulting company in Cincinnati, Ohio. After numerous lunchroom debates on which great historical baseball teams would win if they could play each other, a few guys decided to up the ante. At the height of the dot-com bubble, they decided to undertake the challenge of trying to write an advanced baseball simulator (along the lines of Strat-O-Matic and APBA) that would work on a website.

An early version of the baseball simulator was up and running by fall of 1999. The next project was college basketball. Just in time for March Madness in spring of 2000, the college basketball simulator went online. This caught the attention of the local media when the simulator said the University of Cincinnati would have made the Final Four if one of its players, power forward Kenyon Martin, had not broken his leg.

While continuing with the consulting work to pay the bills, WhatIfSports remained a side project until the company landed its first major license with Major League Baseball in 2001. The license put the baseball simulator on MLB.com and put WhatIfSports on the map.

In the years that followed, the WhatIfSports project began earning more money than the computer consulting work, as more and more companies began trimming back their information technology budgets. In 2003 WhatIfSports was officially incorporated; a growing staff was able to introduce new simulators for football, NBA basketball, hockey, and stock car racing.

After two more years of continuous growth, WhatIfSports was acquired by Fox Interactive Media in the fall of 2005. This was around the same time Fox bought other properties such as MySpace, IGN and Scout.com.

Tarek Kamil, President/founder of WhatIfSports.com was let go by Fox Sports on January 16, 2009. His position was eliminated. The remaining Blue Ash, Ohio-based WhatIfSports staff will report directly to Fox managers in LA. [1]

Games

SimMatchup

WhatIfSports offers anyone a "test drive" of their simulators at no cost in a section called SimMatchUp. Users choose to play any two MLB baseball teams against each other going back to the 1885, NFL football teams back to 1941, NHL hockey teams back to 1917, NBA basketball teams back to 1950, and NCAA basketball teams dating back to different years depending on the team. All simulators produce complete box scores and full play-by-play.

SimLeagues

For a fee varying between $8USD to $25USD depending on the sport, users can draft their own teams consisting of any player in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history and join leagues with other people. All leagues play full seasons (by today's standards) with playoffs. Complete stats are tracked for all players and teams.

The baseball simleague offers the opportunity for World Series champions and losers to compete in a monthly tournament of champions based on salary cap used for the team. Each tournament winner receives $250USD in prizes.

Dynasty games

Hoops Dynasty

This game gives users a taste of what it's like to coach college basketball at an American university. The user takes over in Division III and can recruit players, hand out scholarships, control practices and coach games. The user tries to build a successful program to attract job offers from Division II and Division I schools. For most users, the ultimate goal is to get a Division I job and win the national title, although users can stay in lower divisions and build a dynasty there, as well. Users are discouraged from staying at lower levels after having success by a system of diminishing returns on reward points for championships.

Gridiron Dynasty

This game simulates what it's like to coach college football. The simulation works much the same as Hoops Dynasty, with the user starting in Division III and trying to move up to higher divisions by building a successful program through recruiting, coaching and administration. Also, like Hoops Dynasty, there are users that stay in the lower divisions and build dynasties with their respective school. However, unlike Hoops Dynasty, Gridiron Dynasty does not receive frequent bug fixes or updates.

Hardball Dynasty

Hardball Dynasty is a relatively new simulation game on the site. It gives users the ability to run a baseball franchise (from the major league level all the way down to rookie league) and have complete control over personnel decisions, lineups, pitch counts, etc. In essence, it is a more sophisticated version of the MLB simulation. It has a yearly draft with both foreign and U.S. players as well as user interaction via trades and a league trash-talk/message board. It is by far the most comprehensive and time-consuming game on the site and offers much that not even the baseball sim has at this point.

Clutch Racing

This simulation allows a user to build a NASCAR racing team by recruiting drivers, crew and mechanics, attracting sponsorship and building publicity, and directing races.

Forums and other features

The site offers extensive user forums for each of the major sports, along with more general discussions and a section called "The Pit" for trash talk and more mature themes. An odd feature housed in the "General Discussion" forum is the "Death Pool". Participants draft celebrities and score points based on their age at the time of death. The younger the celebrities are at the time of death, the more points the pool participants score. There is also a recurring baseball league called "Macabre Death" that is based on using celebrities who died in any sort of gruesome fashion.

Generally, the most active forums are in Baseball (Sim Baseball and Hardball Dynasty, along with MLB talk), General Discussion (mainly featuring Shtickless, along with the Death Pool, random sports challenges, and other miscellaneous topics), and The Pit (basically anything that doesn't fit any other forum.) On August 14, 2007 a soccer forum was introduced to talk about all things soccer.

The site also offers a section called "Beyond the Box Score" which are a series of columns which contain weekly NFL projections on games and individual fantasy football performers, as well as explorations of various "what if" scenarios. In March 2008, the simulator correctly predicted seven of the eight elite 8 teams, all Final Four teams, the runner-up Memphis and champion Kansas. [2]

For a short period of time the site had a Legends Chat. Well-known coaches or athletes would receive questions from users. The questions were prescreened and had to be submitted by the day before the chat. There were only seven of these chats: Davey Johnson (11/28/06), Dan Reeves (12/5/06), Bobby Cremins (12/19/06), Jack Lengyel (1/23/07), John Robinson (2/1/07), John Chaney (2/14/07) and Jud Heathcote (3/7/07).

In late October, a MySpace profile was launched which has been steadily adding members.

Controversy

Fox's acquisition of the site was controversial with some users. There was also a dispute involving copyright issues about Major League Baseball logos and player names and likenesses. When a lawsuit was filed by CDM Fantasy Sports against the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLB's new media unit) over the use of such material, WhatIfSports eliminated MLB logos and player names and images, substituting generic descriptions of the players. This move generated some controversy with users, though the player names were restored after a federal court decision in favor of CDM Fantasy Sports. The logos have not yet been restored due to continuing copyright concerns.

Notes and references

  1. ^ [1], Lance McAlister The Lot D Blog.
  2. ^ [2] Beyond the Box Score: Bracket Previewed

External links


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