A group called the A.S.A. Sports Exchange has an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to create a market that deals in professional athletes. Basically, athletes sell a portion of their future earnings for a current sum-- an IPO of sorts, transferring the risk of a burgeoning superstar to the market. Fascinating concept. A few comments:
- In the short term, there is going to be (and the articles mentions this briefly) an adverse selection problem with regards to which athletes choose to sell themselves to the public. Tiger Woods has no need to give up any portion of his future earnings for current wealth-- he's already comfortable. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant might be beyond this point as well, but there are upcoming athletes in which there is a lot of speculation about their long-term potential and would be willing to take a more risk-averse position. These are the athletes that will be the superstars that everyone wants to buy and sell in fifteen or twenty years, and they will be available on the market. Incorporating the market at any time will lead to a short-term selection issue-- but if the market can survive it for the first years and not fold, there's no reason to necessarily believe it would persist.
- Drafting is a huge question mark for teams-- which players are going to pan out and which will become busts? Consulting the market would be another piece (and a significant one) of information that sports franchises could utilize.
- Will the SEC handle this? The Patent Office already has their hands on this, so it's not likely it will be able to wrest itself free of Uncle Sam. Also-- wouldn't it be interesting if this market operated free of any sort of insider trading regulation? Even if only for comparison to traditional stock markets...