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Could appeal of fantasy sports leagues help arts organizations?


The University of Akron

Dr. William McHenry

Fantasy sports leagues attract millions of players annually.

But what if you know concertmasters better than cornerbacks, or sopranos better than southpaws?

A University of Akron management professor has the answer: a fantasy arts league.

Such a league would challenge competitors to assemble the finest roster of artists -- violinists, theatre companies, Broadway leads and rock singers — and compete against the lineups of other aficionados.

Just as with sports leagues, participants would have limited resources by which to assemble talent. Participants could trade, sign and cut performers. Points would be earned by ticket sales, concert reviews, development support and other factors.

A professor with a passion for the arts

The idea of a fantasy arts league originated with management professor Dr. William McHenry, an amateur trumpeter who is passionate about jazz and 20th century Russian composers.

McHenry's idea recently won honorable mention Oct. 10 in the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge. The challenge, held annually, supports citizens who propose new platforms that foster deeper engagement between communities and cultural organizations. The sponsors — the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts — provide initial "ideas-to-action" funding for the most promising ideas.

McHenry would love for his idea to help strengthen cultural organizations regionally and nationally.

"There are millions of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the arts," McHenry said. "As we have seen with the sports fantasy leagues, an arts league could be an effective way to further engage current patrons while at the same time, draw in people with a more casual interest."

About The University of Akron

The University of Akron is the public research university for Northeast Ohio. The Princeton Review listed UA among the “Best in the Midwest” in its 2010 edition of Best Colleges: Region-by-Region. Approximately 29,300 students are enrolled in UA’s 300 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and law degree programs and 100 certificate programs at sites in Summit, Wayne, Medina and Holmes counties. For more information, visit