So there’s this dude in the news lately that you might have heard of. He hails from New Mexico, made a few oh-no-nos in college1, and tends to pull his hamstring and magically screw my fantasy team. His name is Arian Foster, and if any of this sounds sexy to you, here’s a knowledge bomb: you can now buy his talent.
An announcement by a Bay Area startup2 has piqued sports enthusiast’s interest, because the firm is planning an IPO3 for the NFL player, which allows anyone to purchase stock in his performance in exchange for returns on his future endorsements and earnings.
In short, you’re purchasing a fraction of his unrealized athletic income and giving him $10 million dollars.
The company has stated that (should this tactic succeed and revolutionize the known universe) it plans to expand the platform to musicians and movie stars, and anyone else whose broadcasted abilities prove to earn billions. Which means sooner or later, we’ll be able to buy the talents of Ann Coulter4 or Bruno Mars, if they had any.
But it occurred to me, reading this maniacal circus of an idea, what is becoming of our society or maybe the developed world. Because this whole investing in people thing isn’t unprecedented, or unheard of. You can trade on weather projections or the future price of oats if that’s your thing. The SEC5 is pending approval, which is expected to pass by November based on this oats logic.
And since I have a smidge of non-profit experience in the Bay Area, I was involved heavily into microfunding6. Microfunds operate on the assumption that since you have no street cred— because you’re either not-smart or 19 still living with your mom— you still have ideas, ideas that need money to escape garage blueprinting stages. But on a more basic level, microfunds are gambles, not unlike Indian casinos or Vegas7. Often times a group of dudes with an outlandish theory on how to change the world may have considerable intent, but who knows whether it’s feasible, useful, or even legal?
There are so many unknowns and variables, that you might as well throw nickels at Miley Cyrus in exchange for some illicit racism in hopes that yields a return on your investment8.
Human IPOs9 (like microfunds) are going to become kitschy gambling exercises, like Atlantic City for people who listen to Dinosaur, Jr. Completely unaware of their non-existent financial futures, 20-somethings of any shape or kale-predilected nature can buy into someone’s success. And with that development, HIPOs will expand to those who aren’t famous or athletically inclined.
Because that 16-year-old inner-city Latina is damn good at bagging groceries. Let’s go public and hope her meteoric rise doesn’t nosedive when she’s introduced to blow or the back-alley trap scene and goes Chap. 7 then has to live with her mom again to help support her three younger brothers one of whom has a learning disability.
Though, it should occur to you that the aforementioned scenario is less likely to occur to the inner-city Latina than it is to Arian Foster. In fact, any given pro athlete has a much higher probability of the following:
- Killing someone
- Breaking a number of limbs and organs
- Saying something really racist/ sexist/ homophobic/ classist
- Making dogs kill themselves
- Doing all the drugs
Any of those would surely halt his ability to generate income, for himself and investors. But what I see in our culture with HIPOs and microfunding is the allure of high risk/ high yield gambles, as opposed to low risk/ low yield alternatives, which are less conducive to dinner conversation. If you’re in it for the bragging rights, then I can’t argue with you. But if you’re in it to maybe make the world a better place, then you’re doing it wrong.
We should be placing bets on the 16-year-old inner-city Latina who has to take care of her three younger brothers. Because her income might not see immediate returns, but statistically it’s a sound(er) investment as she’s less likely to shoot herself in the leg at a nightclub. And if that isn’t enough reason, she (unlike Arian Foster) didn’t just sign a $43 million dollar contract to play sports10. If you’re going to be an idiot with your money, at least do it responsibly.
1 He took money illegally. Like stealing. Except it wasn’t like $20 so it’s more like grand larceny or something really screwed up.
2 Do they do ANYTHING else up there? I swear to God it’s like a socialist meth-den for 20 somethings to drink PBR and incorporate hippie shit.
3 Initial Public Offering, or the metamorphosis of a private company into a public company through the issuing of stock through a securities exchange. This is astronomically complex and entirely useless in everyday happenings, q.e.d.
4 Maybe if money influenced her decisions she’d stop being such a bigot
5 Securities and Exchange Commission, or: a group of old white dudes who used to be the guys in their basements playing Dungeons and Dragons and totally reached Lvl 99 Earth Sorcerer and depend way too heavily on rules.
6 Small online donations, which collectively fund a project, such as building a bridge or buying Trenton beer. Someone should start a microfund to buy Trenton beer.
7 I’ve tried it. It does.
8 Which I visited recently and oh. my. god. there are so many dumb people in the world.
9 Or HIPOs as we’re now going to call them, because acronyms are fun but it sounds like ‘hippo’, oh my god how does one guy get so funny?
10 My bad, it’s over a 5 year period. Cut throat lifestyle when you only rake in $8.6 million a year. Just THINK of the taxes, amiright?
Columnist Trenton Keith is a writing and pop culture enthusiast. He's also a sarcastic humorist, a dismal satirist, and frequent user of non-sequiturs.
Football on the field image courtesy of Shutterstock