On Friday, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles will face the Colorado Crush for the second time this week. But this time, there's a twist: Both teams, which are part of Project FANchise, will let their fans call the plays in the contest.
The Screaming Eagles have handed over play-calling to their fans all season, becoming the first fan-run professional football team. But this will be Colorado’s debut with fans calling plays, and it should create a fascinating night of football.
Here are five reasons you’re not going to want to miss Friday's game.
1. History will be made
How often can you say that about a sporting event? Yes, often there are player debuts, season openers, new records previously unseen. But the game between the Screaming Eagles and Colorado Crush will be a unique type of first. Every year, hundreds of professional football games are played as coaches with clipboards in hand and headsets over ears pick plays for their team. On Friday, it will be fans rather than coaches calling offensive plays throughout the game. Sports history will be made.
2. It will probably be a shootout
Fans have already displayed a clear proclivity for the pass this year as they’ve guided the Screaming Eagles play-calling from their phones. Salt Lake passes the ball 66% of the time. Against Colorado, both squads will be in the same boat, with their destinies tied to the impulses of their fans. Letting the fans call the shots for both teams might lead to a pass-fest. That is, of course, if the fans go in that direction.
3. There will be plenty of scoring
With a field that runs just 50 yards, even the Cedar Rapids Titans, the league’s worst offensive team, score 29.3 points per game. Both the Screaming Eagles and the Crush score quite a bit. If both teams throw the ball as often as just suggested, that could pump up the point total even more. When the two teams met on Monday, they combined for 105 points. Another triple digit point total would hardly be a surprise.
4. It could be the future
Still in its infancy, Project FANchise has plenty of room to grow. And given the success of fantasy sports, it’s not hard to imagine that there will be other efforts to increase fan engagement in professional sports. OK, maybe you won’t be calling the plays for your favorite NFL team or setting the lineup card for your favorite baseball team 10 years down the road. But from fan-voting in professional All-Star games to fan play-calling in Salt Lake City, it’s clear what direction sports are headed.
5. It will be a fan vs. fan competition
Fans love to get after each other, whether their antagonism comes in the form of chants at the stadium or arguments over lunch. In this game, though, talk will truly be cheap for the fans of the Screaming Eagles and the Crush. With the fans guiding the course of the game, they’ll have no excuse for a loss and plenty of reason to gloat over a victory.