It's 2100 and sport athletes costs way too much. The English FA has had enough of years of losses in the league and replaces the players in the Football leagues with a league of bipedals robots. In what ways would those robotic "athletes" build rapport with the fans considering that most of the revenues in a professional sport team is derived from fans buying merchandise, showing up to the stadium or paying to see the games on TV?

  • $\begingroup$ I think this would be very difficult. The major appeal of football perhaps coming from childhood where kids play football and dream one day of becoming just like their idols. Robot football may grow a larger and larger following but won't replace the game played by humans. $\endgroup$ – Dave Halsall Aug 17 '15 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really see how this would happen - if footballers cost a lot it's because they are generating that money in the first place. If popularity in the sport declines, so will players' wages... $\endgroup$ – colmde Aug 17 '15 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ The idea would be to remove wages to improve profit by using autonomous robots instead and keep the same popularity so the money doesn't go away. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 17 '15 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting question because this Nike commercial during the World Cup 2014 sums it up almost perfectly: youtube.com/watch?v=afUUBvWBp3I $\endgroup$ – fi12 Feb 21 '16 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ Wages are high because the rewards of winning are high. Without an artificial cap (which could just as easily be applied to players' wages) the teams would just spend all of their money on really expensive robots instead. $\endgroup$ – Matt Bowyer Jan 3 '17 at 23:27

Since the main appeal of professional sports is to participate vicariously with the team, robot players could amp this to "11" by literally being under the control of the fans.

One could imagine lotteries where fans bought tickets and the winners received an "X box controller" gadget that allowed them to take control of the robot for a half or some pre determined time limit. Depending on the league rules, the robots could be totally controlled by the fans, or have general algorithms which provide parameters that the fans can only marginally effect. This way when millions of fans are screaming "kick the ball", the fan with the box can punch the "kick ball" control.

Since there are only a limited number of games, fans can also buy tickets to participate in training camps, exhibition matches and other events where the robot team is playing. Much fun can be had by mixing and matching sports: "Buy your ticket for Manchester United vs the Denver Broncos!". Since robots are quite adaptable, all kinds of bizarre and unlikely exhibition matches can be devised, ranging from fan controlled robots playing against a real soccer team to them playing water polo.

So long as the fandom feels they have equal chances to participate by actually "playing" in a match, then I suspect that the league will be rolling in money. If it ever comes out there is some sort of shenanigans in selecting fans to control the game, the scandal will rapidly destroy the fan base and the league (a powerful incentive to keep things honest).

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    $\begingroup$ Letting fans actually play in the league itself makes no sense: they would just lose against professionals. You want a professional player to play, instead, or nobody would have fun, not even the player himself, let alone the spectators! $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Just a slight variation of this answer: Instead of a lottery to who receives the controller, all the fans could be allowed, using an advanced version of the "crowd pong" experimental game... $\endgroup$ – colmde Aug 17 '15 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @colmde fun as an experiment to do only once, ultimately incredibly boring due to poor tactics and trolling (not to account for opposing team supporters takeovering your decisions…) $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ I really like the idea of exhibition matches that wouldn't be possible otherwise. I was thinking of a "last leg standing" match where robot would tackle each other like crazy and breaks each other legs until only one robot remains with a leg while reading your suggestion. Or a referee demolition derby following a bad penalty call. You could also have 20-30 sets of robots to simulate all the games in the world - just change the "wallpaper" on their skin. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 17 '15 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ I also like the idea that the fans would have an influence on the match - maybe make it more-or-less staged like WWE with the loudest fans increasing the odds for their team. As well as the finances of the teams from sponsors/merchandise sales increasing their odds. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 17 '15 at 20:16

I just finished watching a season of Battlebots on TV last night, so I think you could use the same approach. Each robot would have a different design (within parameters set by the league), and a different set of engineers & programmers making it work. The humans would build the rapport with the fans through interviews, press conferences, signings, etc, but the robot athletes would be the ones on the merchandise and the ones that the fans are cheering for at games.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how much that would apply though because from my understanding battlebots is individual where as these would be team games and the results would probably be based on statistics, probabilities and chaos theory (movement of the ball and attitude of the fans in the stands). What I mean is that it wouid probably be a simuIation - don't think there would be humans teams controlling each robot individually. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 14 '15 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Mystra007 someone has to program the simulation. And it's best to let each team do it their own way, so every game doesn't end the same way. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 14 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ Can't edit my original comment but I wanted to add that I do watch Battlebots and used to watch and play(on PC) Robot Wars. I asked the question because it didn't seem to adress the issues I mentionned previously. $\endgroup$ – Mystra007 Aug 14 '15 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mystra007 I was thinking the robot athletes would HAVE TO work as a team, unlike the solo competitions in Battlebots. So that would be part of the programming the humans have to do. If the robot is too selfish, the fans will boo it, or maybe it will get kicked off the team. Also, I picture autonomous A.I. robots that don't require human intervention during a game (except for damage repair). After games the humans would improve the robots' A.I. and perhaps upgrade their bodies so they'll do better next game. $\endgroup$ – BrettFromLA Aug 14 '15 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Lol I misread Battletoads TV. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Aug 17 '15 at 14:03

You didn't specify that the robots would be autonomous, so I assume they would actually be controlled by a "player".

So, we have a professional player, who controls a machine, which is built by his team… hm, looks a lot like F1. I guess F1 does have enough fans and marketing, doesn't it?

Also notice that in F1 both the driver and his team usually have fans.

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