By Jeremy Vega
I had a chance to ask the SFL commissioner some questions pertaining to different things around the league. Whether it be on the field, off the field, or anything that relates to this wonderful venture. I would first like to thank Cam and his league staff for providing us such an amazing experience daily as well as to the members of the community who support all the Beat Writers every week. These questions stem from my own curiosity as well as things I feel members would like to hear about from discord chat that has gone on throughout the season. Alright let’s get started.
Jeremy Vega: In terms of quality and consistency, what have the broadcast team, beat writers, and SFL Today crew brought to the league this season?
Cameron Irvine: Let’s start with the broadcast team. The broadcast team has made gradual improvements, and we’re always willing to give a newcomer a shot. We would have never known how good a Mike Daggs or Michael Truilo was if we hadn’t have said, ‘what the hell, let’s give them a shot!’. That being said – we need more, and we need more consistency. We’ll be teaching a broadcaster’s seminar during the convention to give our casters and callers first-hand guides to questions, to build on positive momentum from Season 10. The SFL Beat Writers has been a huge success. That program started with nothing, and the couple of handfuls of guys that have stepped up in that department have made our website relevant to our current users again and are giving us much-needed content throughout the week. Andrew Rastelli has passed the torch to Slinn Shady, who is now the managing editor of that department. When leaders are found from dust – that’s when you know you’re doing the right things as a league. We plan to take The SFL Today to the next level next season, the show we’ve always envisioned it will be – with highlights, in-depth interviews, detailed statistics, etc – the plan is to move the abbreviated show to halftime of the GOTW, with a full version hitting on-demand mediums the following day. Let’s not forget about the stats team! What a job Andy Hamilton has done getting that off the ground and finding quality. The beat writers and stat takers are first-seasoners. The growth those programs could incur is exciting to think about!
JV: Has player progression translated to the field the way you had hoped it would? And, are you happy with how it has impacted the players in the community?
Cam: On the field, player progression has had a dramatic effect on gameplay in a positive way, but there’s still work to be done. We’ve come from being about 6 points over the NFL average, 75 yards more of total offense and a bunch more turnovers. From Season 9, points, yards and turnovers are down closer to NFL averages but as player ratings improve – so does the offensive production – that has been consistent through our data findings in the first eight weeks and we expect those categories to steadily climb as the season continues. Our primary objective is to put a sim product on the field, so player ratings and the salary cap that allows them will likely get a little tighter heading into Season 11, even tighter in some specific areas. Do we have to be like the NFL? No – but we also don’t want outcomes that don’t feel realistic to our users and to our viewers. Off the field, player progression has shattered expectations. We went from a 40% player retention rate, to having nearly 95% player activity heading into the final stretch of Season 10. To have that type of jump from one year to the next is extraordinary! We’re going to take advantage of the successful launch of that program in Season 11 and for years to come, making progression not only a challenge for the player as an individual, but as challenges to their teammates and to other players around the league. What makes the SFL unique is our ability to have a game within a game, within a game. Our ability to add new rewards and payouts to being a part of this community is something we’re very excited about.
JV: With all the big announcements from the off-season till now, it’s clear the league is growing very fast, so where do you see this league in a couple of years?
Cam: This league will ultimately house over 900 players on 32 teams, we’ll let the timetable play out on its own through supply, demand and quality of product – with backups jostling for playing time and opportunities to build their careers from the ground up. Ultimately, whole communities will form just in team locker rooms that will only increase team camaraderie and spirit. Very soon, the number of products we are able to produce and the quality of those products will be at an all-time high. We’re looking forward to growing our partnership with Twitch, APM Music and all of our partners – and getting some new ones on board. We are the first competitive, controlerless, esport in the world and we’re proud to forever hold that title. The biggest announcement in league history – something I’ve been striving towards since I launched the concept publicly in raw form back in January 2010 on a backbreaker message board – will come at the SFL Convention in Las Colinas, July 13-15. The future is so unbelievably bright.
JV: What do you think is the biggest surprise this season both on and off the field?
Cam: On the field, it’s the Tulsa Desperados. What Dion Hawkins has accomplished is the vision the SFL has for all of its users. Started as a player in D.C., went to Houston – studied under Jermaine Smith and Demond Simien – two bright minds of APF and the SFL for many years. Went to Chicago to continue his playing career and earned the trust of Shann Varner, another bright mind in the community. Applied for ownership, was awarded a team and has taken all of those years of experience and molded an organization filled with veterans and young stars, created a unique brand, had perfect attendance in player progression every week all season long. Tulsa is the ultimate individual and franchise success story. Off the field, the biggest surprise is the outsiders acceptance of the product – from NFL music composers to hollywood execs to former football players to city leaders. We’re really getting our message out there and people are believing in what we’re doing – x3, x4 the response we’ve ever received outside of our small community. The memories, the superstars, the recognition we are able to give our viewers – is second to none and we believe thousands can gravitate towards this product and find meaning in it, one way or another.
JV: With the Hall of Fame coming soon, is there a Cameron Irvine Mount Rushmore of SFL legends and who is on it?
Cam: I don’t want to comment on future Hall-of-Famers because our group of owners – who have been in the league for many years in one capacity or another, are going to have votes along with league staff to determine the eventual inductions. I will say that there are many who deserve it and who I demand will be celebrated. At the SFL Convention, Hall-of-Fame night will be very special. We’ll have presenters say a few words on behalf of the inductees and all hall-of-famers in attendance or who can participate through online mediums will have a chance to discuss their time in the community. Whoever makes the first class will I’m sure cherish it, I know I will. These people – even those that are just named as finalists – have meant so much to our growth over the years. Without these people, this league isn’t the same, or may not even still be going. I’m excited for them, but excited for our rising stars as well. Soon, we’ll have a next-generation of Hall-of-Fame worthy candidates.
JV: Who in your opinion is leading the MVP race so far this season?
Cam: Man, that’s tough. Three guys stand out to me, defensively: ALA Alex Dominguez and Tulsa’s Espnn Ryale and Charles Ball. Those three players are so dominant. Obviously, TAL’s defensive front is having a ridiculous season and are definitely the best unit of any unit – offensive or defensive in the league. But that’s not how the MVP works – who is the most valuable to their team? Offensively, Ken Gossett and Warren Murray seem unstoppable when they’re at the top of their game this season. A lot of season left! Plenty of talent everywhere.
JV: Hypothetically, if Tulsa and the Pride were to meet in the Championship game undefeated, will your voice be able to hold up?
Cam: We’ll make it work. Whoever makes it out of this insanely-competitive Season 10 – that game is going to be the most anticipated matchup potentially in league history. We’ve never had a playoff format like this – no one really in professional sports has. Now the NBA is talking about a play-in tournament, combining conferences in the playoffs – we’re fortunate to be ahead of that curve and I think we’ll see more league’s gravitate towards this format. It’s rare I don’t hear any negativity about any one particular part of the league – I haven’t heard any negativity surrounding playoff format and tie-breaking procedure. I think we’re going to hit a home run in that department and excited to see how it all ends up.
JV: If you were to be given a franchise spot, is there a team name you have always liked the idea of that doesn’t currently exist?
Cam: I would never have a team in my own league. I think it shows a lack of pride in the position, and creates unnecessary claims of bias when leaders of an organization have invested interest in a particular team. I’ve never been a team guy, I’ve always been a league guy. I would create leagues as a kid and play as all of the teams, not just one – and if I couldn’t play as the league, I watched the league. There was always something about creating a competitive league to pro sports, a league of the people – pro athletes and pro organizations just never seemed like an obtainable thing to me. Like traditional esports, they are always teams and players and front offices that you mostly ever watch from afar. I wanted a league for the common man, and that’s what we’ve got in the SFL
JV: Do you have any advice to current and future members wanting to move up in the league or help make a positive impact on the league?
Cam: The league always needs people that don’t have an invested interest in their player, in a team. The league is going to need people that want to help the league and see that as their true calling through the skills and talents they possess. There’s likely money in it for those people. If you’re at all interested in being a person that can give it all up and just enjoy the ride as someone who gets to enjoy the league as an administrator – as a helper – as a leader – we want you to let us know. Many more people want to be superstars and team owners – and that’s awesome, because without them – we wouldn’t have as good of a league as we have today. If you’re interested in something – scout, GM, coach, head coach, broadcaster, beat writer, stats – anything, step up and make it happen. Your wants and dreams can come true here. We may be a controlerless league, but the power is still very much in your hands.
Thank you everyone.