One thing all sports fans can agree on is that while sports are fun, they are not as fun as financial markets. I hate it when I’m watching Ja Morant do obscene things to defenders, but am left without the ability to leverage his performance into impressive gains at the margins. Thankfully, business moron Alex Rodriguez and his investment partners Marc Lore, Joshua Kushner (of those Kushners), Vinit Bharara (of diapers.com fame), and Tiger Global Management have assembled $75 million to solve this exact problem. What this group proposes is the following: What if you could combine the worst parts of fantasy sports and gambling into something way more fun like, say, the stock market? You soon will be able to, on an app called Mojo.
A Bloomberg story announcing the formation of the app is weirdly light on details, though the founders all say they want the app to feel like Robinhood or Coinbase, which means they want it to be a casino that doesn’t look like one. But why were they able to get so much money? Let’s hear it from Lore:
“I’ve always thought the idea of a sports stock market was the holy grail — the vision could transform sports, and fandom as a whole,” Lore said in an email. “For years, I’ve heard people throw around the idea — but nobody has been able to do it. For the concept to truly work, you need underlying principles like intrinsic value and instant liquidity.”Bloomberg
What Lore is describing here is more or less the apotheosis of all the worst trends in sports fandom over the past decade. We would not be faced with the threat of a “sports stock market” if the takeover of sports (and sports media) by gambling companies had not been progressing as thoroughly as it has over the last two years. If daily fantasy sports primed the pump for legal gambling, gambling then set the stage for the outright financialization of fandom. It feels almost quaint to make this point now, but the idea of being a fan of a team, or watching sports, or caring about any of this at any level, is about having some sort of communal experience based around mutual enjoyment of sports, at the team or individual level. And yet every significant development on the margins of sports-watching over the last few decades has been geared towards untethering fandom from its theoretical center (having fun watching sports). This is all, to an obviously smaller degree, yet another step in the all-consuming casino-ification of the American economy. Pretty much everyone under the age of 50 would agree that the post-war surplus of treasure that fueled the “free college –> job at the canoe factory –> enough money to buy four vacation homes” vision of upward mobility in the consumer economy has run out. But at least now you can take part in the new engine of growth, by which I mean minting a shitcoin and doing a pump-and-dump scheme. Capital expansion demands new markets; suckers definitely represent a market, and all you have to do is not end up on the bottom, in your crypto scam or the sports stock market.
To bring us back on topic, it makes sense that people would invest so much money in a sports stock market because the house always wins and gambling is currently in the process of mass legalization. Making everyone compete with each other as users all trying to buy low and sell high on the same assets also guarantees a risk-free profit stream (not that simply running a normal sportsbook is as risky as those horrid ESPN trend stories about casinos taking huge losses make it out to be), and helps ensure a steady customer base as leagues face the looming death of live TV. Anyway, you can now look forward to affirming your fandom and trying to salvage your child’s college fund by leveraging some Ayo Dosunmu put options, or whatever, which we can all agree should be the real essence of enjoying sports.