From the day we started the fantasy sports department, I’ve received one question repeatedly:
“Why Chris Vaccaro?”
But barely a second is: “When will The Athletic get into sports betting?”
My friends, the answer is … “today”.
We have worked diligently – through brainstorming, calls, suggestions, meetings, scouting, research, and everything in between – to create a section that will be smart, thoughtful, engaging, and fun. Yes, we have tips and some of the usual staples, but we will also use our vast network of analytical minds and industry-leading local and national writers to gain insights that you cannot get anywhere else. We’ll have scouts to break up matchups. We use statistics partners to provide all types of data. We’ll dig deep to bring you the occasional in-depth opaque sports coverage from experts around the world that you never knew you needed.
Ever since we found out that this was happening, our working motto has been “Respect the reader”. We want to be better than anywhere else and we have to make everyone feel like they got more than they paid for. We’ll keep asking ourselves, “Would I finish reading this and immediately want to share the link with someone I know?”
A few months after I started at The Athletic, we had a town hall with founders Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann. I took notes because I’m a nerd. And I go back to that piece of paper a lot because it gave a good idea of what we’d be aiming for as a company and how we’re going to build this section. Among the points I scribbled were:
- Engage the subscribers
- Add nuance, never remove it
- Obsession with what you do that your co-workers can’t
- Teach our subscribers something
- Stranger Things is worth a full year on Netflix (make your section feel the same)
And that will be the basis of what we are striving for here.
That and to help you win big money.
Now to the elephant in the room.
As you may have seen almost everywhere, we’ve partnered with BetMGM. This was by no means a short process – I think it has been about eight months. I want to assure you that your overall experience at The Athletic remains largely unchanged. And for the most part, it gets a lot better and delivers a lot more value.
For example, BetMGM will provide their Vice President of Trading for a mailbag role – ask the person in charge what you want; He’s a lot more open to the process and his thoughts on the games than you might expect (and to be honest than I originally thought). We will get data from them that will make stories and columns deeper and more insightful. Yes, we will relink lines and odds back to your sportsbook (and most of the links have a generous sign up offer) – but you have to play somewhere, right? We spent most of a year getting to know BetMGM and the people behind the scenes. We are sure you will see why we have worked with them over the coming days, weeks, and months as this section grows.
We understand that sports betting isn’t for everyone – and it’s probably not even legal in your state – but a good sports betting story is a good story, period, and we believe you will enjoy almost everything we publish regardless of what you do with the information afterwards.
Whether you want to tinker with our models before making a sizable bet, reading a few columns and just enjoying the insights because it’ll make you a smarter fan, or you’re like me and a $ 3 Longshot parlay for some want to try sports that pay back $ 213.10 – we’re here to help. And we’ll be here in the comments for your feedback, questions, concerns, or general razzing of bad advice. (Try to avoid it, there will be bad advice. I promise.)
I really hope you enjoy this section and that it brings you something unique and clever each time you visit. The Athletic is designed to keep the reader engaged and to give subscribers the value of their money (and more). We created Fantasy Sports with the idea that your subscription to this section alone was worth it. We hope we can do the same here.
Thank you, have fun and good luck!