name = WhatIfSports.com
url = [http://www.whatifsports.com www.whatifsports.com]
commercial = Yes
type = Sports simulation
registration = Optional
author = Tarek Kamil
launch date = 1999
current status = Active
WhatIfSports.com is a company based in
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.that specializes in online sports simulationsand fantasy-style games. It uses custom sports simulators to allow users to match teams from any era and generate a complete play-by-playof 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 Webbyaward as the best sports websiteand claims more than 400,000 users as of 2006.Fact|date=June 2008
Founded in 1999, WhatIfSports was a side project of a couple of sports fans working for a
computer consultingcompany in Cincinnati, Ohio. After numerous lunchroom debates on which great historical baseballteams 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-Maticand 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 Madnessin spring of 2000, the college basketball simulator went online. This caught the attention of the local media when the simulator said the University of Cincinnatiwould have made the Final Fourif 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.comand 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 technologybudgets. In 2003 WhatIfSports was officially incorporated; a growing staff was able to introduce new simulators for football, NBAbasketball, 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, IGNand Scout.com.
WhatIfSports offers anyone a "test drive" of their simulators at no cost in a section called SimMatchUp. Users choose to play any two
MLBbaseball teams against each other going back to the 1885, NFLfootball teams back to 1941, NHLhockey teams back to 1917, NBA basketball teams back to 1950, and NCAA basketballteams dating back to different years depending on the team. All simulators produce complete box scores and full play-by-play.
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, NFLand NHLhistory 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.
baseballsimleague offers the opportunity for World Serieschampions 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.
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.
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 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.
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
celebritiesand 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.
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, 2007a soccerforum 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
NFLprojections on games and individual fantasy footballperformers, 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. [ [http://www.whatifsports.com/beyondtheboxscore/default.asp?article=20080317] Beyond the Box Score: Bracket Previewed ]
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
MySpaceprofile was launched which has been steadily adding members.
Fox's acquisition of the site was controversial with some users. There was also a dispute involving
copyrightissues about Major League Baseball logos and player names and likenesses. When a [http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2006/08/10/judge-rules-against-mlb-says-fantasy-sports-data-is-public-domain lawsuit] was filed by CDM Fantasy Sports against the Major League Baseball Players Associationand 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
* [http://www.whatifsports.com Whatifsports.com website]
* [http://www.whatifsports.com/beyondtheboxscore Whatifsports.com Beyond the Boxscore column]
* [http://www.myspace.com/whatifsports Whatifsports.com MySpace profile]
* [http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/030306 Bill Simmons' article on ESPN.com]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/sports/playmagazine/0603play-tribe.html?_r=2&ref=playmagazine&oref=slogin&oref=slogin Neal Pollack's article in New York Times Magazine]
* [http://www.physorg.com/news65885561.html Physorg.com story on WhatIfSports]
* [http://www.prnewsnow.com/PR%20News%20Releases/Sports/WhatIfSports%20Wins%20Webby%20Award%20for%20Best%20Sports%20Website Press release on 2005 Webby award]
* [http://www.burnsidewriterscollective.com/sports/2006/10/the_lamest_and_sweetest_sports.php BurnsideWritersCollective.com story on WhatIfSports]
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