He situated himself on the sidelines and listened intently as scouts examined players when it hit him harder than a blitzing linebacker.
The scouts at the East-West Shrine Game might have found the players they were looking for that day, but Andrew Bondarowicz found something even better — an idea.
“We were at the East-West Shrine Game in San Antonio in 2006 when all the scouts that were assembled were all swooning about this one quarterback from a school in Alabama that I never heard of,” said Bondarowicz, president of Aregatta Group Inc., a multidisciplinary consulting firm. “He was big, he was mobile, he had a rocket arm, but I’m watching him out on the field, and he can’t hit the broad side of a barn and I’m thinking, ‘Are we looking at the same guy here?’”
Bondarowicz realized that even though these scouts were qualified, they were not always right. His idea was cemented even further when he heard about an ESPN study.
“A couple years later, ESPN came out with a study that said even the best general managers in the business only get it right about 55 to 60 percent of the time when it comes to first round draft picks,” Bondarowicz said. “Well, hell my wife could do that.”
These moments set in motion the idea that would eventually materialize as Fanteractive.
Fanteractive is a website that gives players, coaches and fans a rare chance to interact with each other during the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) season.
“The draft is the second biggest event on the NFL calendar other than the Super Bowl itself, not regular season, not the post season, and it’s just a bunch of guys sitting around in a room saying, ‘Hey, I want this guy,” Bondarowicz, the founder of Fanteractive, said. “So, how can we take this to the next level and give fans an opportunity to experience that in some unique way?”
The idea was to allow fans to get involved in areas of the football operations that professional teams would have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
“Fanteractive is basically a way for fans to get involved in the action,” Bondarowicz said. “Some of us are armchair quarterbacks and say, ‘Well, you should have done it this way.’ Well, here is a chance for fans to be front and center and be more involved than just buying a ticket and coming to cheer at the games.”
The website allows fans to transform what was a fantasy into reality.
For a small fee of $50 dollars, fans can become “Fanagers” who can watch film of prospective athletes, write scouting reports, vote on league rules, post blogs, stream live video of SIFL games and even add friends.
“When we were developing Fanteractive, we wanted to take everything that people love, everything that is trending right now, and envelope it in one product,” said Filip Prus, Fanteractive’s director of social media. “As a result, we have combined professional football, fantasy football, Facebook, Twitter, UStream, Bleacher Report, Rivals.com scouting, the NFL Draft and the Madden video game and created a sports social media supernova.”
Fans not only have a chance to be interactive, they also have an opportunity to mold their favorite SIFL team.
“You can have input in establishing the depth chart with your team’s coach,” Prus said. “The team is truly in your hands, the fan.”
The Fanagers’ scouting reports are combined with additional factors to grade and rank all the prospective athletes. Once the rankings are completed, fans will be able to vote, and help decide who gets invited to training camp.
Fanagers will also help select cheer and dance teams.
“Here is a way where you not only get to do it for fun, but you actually get to see it play out on the field,” Bondarowicz said. “It takes what was a fantasy world and turns it into a reality. It’s a unique opportunity. It’s the first time it’s ever been done, especially on a league-wide level. We’re excited to see where it can go.”
Subscriptions can be purchased on fanteractive.com with the referral code 1489484.
Brandon Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.