Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

January 2011

What do you know about fantasy sports?

As best I can tell, they’re a way for avid American pro sport fans to match wits with others by pretending to own a team that is built position-by-position through a draft process. The results are then determined by the actual performance of the players drafted by the various owners.

You join a league, throw a hundred bucks in the pot and meet weekly in person or electronically sorting out your team’s position and bartering for players through trades and whatever. This is just a guess; I’ve never had a fantasy football, baseball or basketball team. 

But as I tried to get my head around the virtual sport aspects, I was struck by how they sounded like the infamous synthetic credit default swaps market, which encouraged the housing/mortgage bubble the country continues to try and deflate.

As I Googled my way around trying to get smart enough to make an extra point about the similarities between exotic securities and a virtual Tom Brady, I stumbled onto an Irish horse racing site. For a few bob you can build your own stable complete with self-designed colors, fancy horseshoes (called alumanets), vet bills, and stuck-up jockeys. You are encouraged to exercise your  runners to determine whether to run them on flats or chase steeples. You may even wish to geld a stallion to keep his mind on winning races — virtually, of course.

I don’t know which is harder to believe: people actually betting on virtual horse races or trading synthetic credit default swaps.

Come to think of it, I’ve been trading EMC stock options since my wife came home from bridge a few years ago touting one of her pals’ success chasing this stock from what-to-$100. I’m having my third run at it in the form of a LEAP while the stock is trying to find its way past $22. I think of it as a Wes Welker or Dustin Pedroia kind of stock — solid New England performer occasionally on the DL. Robinson Cano is Apple; Matsuzaka is Sony; NBA Commissioner David Stern is Ben Bernanke. Tiger Woods is like a tainted drug stock.

Look, there’s no reason to deal with real stuff when you can use avatars or sport celebs in fantasy worlds, right?

Short Terrell Owens and put a couple of shares of CAT under the board for a rainy day.