Searching for sponsors and discovering life in the ABA
Posted: Wednesday March 8, 2006 11:33AM; Updated: Wednesday March 8, 2006 6:44PM
Whether it be a magazine scribe or a retired 7-foot-7 NBA center, the ABA offers a chance to play for any and all capable of suiting up.
Alexander Wolff will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Last weekend I tested the breadth of my quest to start a pro basketball team in Vermont -- from scaring up seed capital, to inspecting the quality of ball in the league in which we'll play -- over several strenuous days of skiing and hoops. If those two sports share anything besides a season, it's their status in my life as mutually exclusive pursuits, for I've always been too engrossed in covering one to learn the other.
Yet last Friday, at Vermont's Bolton Valley Resort, a local venture capital firm was hosting an event called Peak Pitch. In this upcountry twist on the proverbial elevator pitch, entrepreneurs shared a chairlift with investors and spent the ride up the hill trying to wheedle money out of them. My mother was horrified to learn that I planned to participate. "Why, you won't even have your feet on the ground!" she said, with striking literal, if not figurative, aptness. Indeed, news from Turin that Bode Miller had turned an ankle playing pickup hoops seemed to augur nothing good for a convergence of the two sports.
But the Vermont Frost Heaves have too much at stake for their president and GM to let a mogul come between him and, well, a mogul. So I got Vermont's The Alpine Shop to lend me skis, and a Middlebury College senior, Tim Foley, to give me a lesson. Then, along with several dozen other entrepreneurs, I pulled on a blue bib. As you'd expect, prospective investors wore green. Bolton marks its easiest slopes with green signage, so I incanted a mantra: Seek out the green. With Tim doing chaperone duty, I survived five runs, half as many as rivals who could zip heedlessly down the mountain.
After laying my pitch on a venture capitalist named Matt, I realized I'd committed a sin as much entrepreneurial as journalistic: I'd buried the lede. Before he could plant his poles, I called out, "Hey, can I add a 'P.S' to my pitch?"
If mine had been an elevator pitch, Matt would have long since disappeared down the hall. Fortunately, he let me go on: "One out of every 12 users of the Internet has played some sort of fantasy sports. The Frost Heaves will do them one better! We'll let fans help run a real team over the Web!"
I think Matt got it -- although as I write this at midweek, I still hadn't fielded his request for wiring instructions. I do, however, know quite a bit more about the American Basketball Association, which features a promoter's dream of a rule, in which the home team may suit up anyone it chooses.