Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Here's an Idea... Don't Sign Anything

I know... another Johnny Football post.

I'm getting a little worn on it, too, but on the radio, you've got to play the hits.

The information and allegations continue to roll in on Johnny Manziel's drug trafficking autograph signing ring, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

By the way, a good litmus test on the validity of a story is whether or not SportsCenter will cover it. This story has at least enough legs that on Monday, they would intersperse this story between A-Rod segments. So, it's got Bristol believing something's up.

No Twitter...
And No Signature?
During this maelstrom, an idea nerf-balled into my brain. We've seen football coaches ban their players from social media, because of the distractions it can cause and, more likely, the trouble it can get players into. We see poor judgment all the time in social media - with college athletes, professional athletes, celebrities, and even ordinary 'ol people.

So some football coaches say no-no to social media.

Well, what if they did the same with autographs? Couldn't they institute a no-autograph policy?

Think about it. To a football coach, is it worth the risk? What's the real benefit to a football team to have their players sign autographs for fans?

If a football coach came out and explained to the fans that - while he is sorry it has to be this way - because of situations like the one at Texas A&M, the coaching staff has decided to protect their players and is no longer allowing any private autographing or at fan events:

"We ask you the fans, to help us with the implementation of this policy, as it is in the best interests for all involved, and we can help keep our players on the field and out of any investigational spotlight that could jeopardize their eligibility. Gig 'Em."

Of course, there will still be some players that will sign materials anyway, but at least with a policy you can discourage the practice, educate the players on the pitfalls (even use the Johnny Football example), and better police it. There will always be snakes, but maybe you could limit the practice - hell, even set up a sting operation to catch any online eBay autograph brokers.

Really, the only downside I see in all this is that the little kid who actually wants the autograph for themselves is left hanging. But what's a little kid's feelings worth in the billion-dollar college football world? Not much, I say.

How did we get here? Well, two reasons:

1) The Internet and eBay. The ability for an individual to setup their own online store and easily accept payment for items that they have laying around the house. Like Amazon changed the retail world (...and really, the world in general), eBay provided an outlet for people to take advantage of people's craze for memorabilia. Real, fake, whatever - the digital personal selling platform allowed people to connect and conduct business well beyond any personal interaction.

2) People are crazy. Why is an 8"x10" signed by Johnny Manziel worth $36? $100? Why?

I'll admit, I'm a very utilitistic person. If I can use something, and I know I'm going to use it - I don't mind paying for it. What am I going to use a signed football for? To display? Why? This is obviously a more me  thing than I guess the regular sports fan.

But the regular sports fan is the problem - and their desire for these signed materials. The people who are willing to shell out this money for these autographed items drive the industry. Otherwise, these scammers with a stack of AJ McCarron 5"x7"s wouldn't bother.

They are taking advantage of your fandom.

And it's putting your favorite players at risk.

Ridiculous, I say.

Because the players aren't dumb - they can get on eBay just like you, and they are seeing that someone else is getting the $36, $100 for the item that they made valuable by adding their signature. Of course they want a cut. (And, that's probably fair - but it's just not the rule.)

So, will a coach or athletic department step up and say no more?

If Johnny Manziel is taken off the field, I bet some of them are going to think about it.

Questions, comments? Leave them below or hit me up on Twitter. @harry_long