Choose Your Own Adventure: Football Edition

May 17, 2018
Updated 2mo ago

By Max Godnick

Questioning coaches' decisions is an integral part of any football fan's life ー we all know we could do better. Now, a new football league is giving us a shot, by crowd sourcing the play-calling in live football games.

"Your Call Football" lets viewers choose their favorite of three pre-selected plays uploaded to an app by a figure-head coach on the sideline of a real game in progress. The league employs players who are trying to land a roster spot on NFL teams, and the coaches are NFL alumnae.

"A lot of guys have been in camps, a lot of guys just need a little development and a few more reps, and we've given them that," said Merril Hoge, the former NFL running back and ESPN analyst who is the head coach of the new league's Team Power.

The YCF league is trying to balance a high-quality on-field product with the interactivity of having fans direct the game.

"We're definitely about quality football and marrying that with, what do the fans want," said Julie Meringer, the president of Your Call Football.

The league is bankrolled entirely by George Colony, the CEO of technology research firm Forrester. Players are paid on par with what NFL rookies make in training camp.

Meringer is one of three women among the league's senior executives, including YCF's chief legal officer and its head of marketing. "We know how to get stuff done and we're proud about that," she said.

YCF's first three-game season ends Thursday night in Vero Beach, Fla., when Team Power plays Team Grit, the only other team in the league.

Meringer said the company explored using its patented technology for other sports, but most mainstream sports are too fast-paced and don't rely enough on real-time coaching. She said baseball offers an opportunity, but she's more interested in how fan interactivity can be incorporated into entertainment programming.

"You already see a lot of reality TV shows trying to use Twitter and other things to weigh in, but it's not real time," she said, adding the company would be looking for other ways to use its play-calling technology.

"There's definitely a licensing angle here, which I think will help with the future of sports and the next generation who are cord cutters, watching multiple screens, not necessarily going to venues to engage in sports," Meringer said.

For the full interview, click here.