Furry Basketball Association
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Furry Basketball Association
The current logo of the FBA.
|Initial work||Be-Hope Magazine Article, 2009|
|Initial author||Buck Hopper (J. Mateo Baker)|
The Furry Basketball Association (FBA) is a fantasy sports league run by the furry community. Unlike most fantasy leagues, the FBA does not follow any real world sports. Instead, the FBA has established its own sports teams, divisions, conferences and 80-game schedule, with the team rosters filled by characters created by participants in the league. Game results are calculated by using a proprietary simulation engine, with daily updates being posted on Fur Affinity and Twitter. The FBA borrows heavily from the National Basketball Association for inspiration, including Eastern and Western Conferences, an annual player draft, a 16-team playoffs bracket with best-of-7 series, and rules from the NBA including a 23 foot, 9 inch 3-point line. However the FBA has many of its own rules based on the wide variety of furry players in the league, including rules for tail-dribbling, tonguing the ball, and a one-flap rule for avian players.
As of November of 2013, the FBA has begun its fifth season. While this is its fifth season as an active fantasy league for the fandom, the FBA Universe has developed a history that places the beginning of the league in 1961. Within the FBA storyline, the 2013-2014 season is the league's 52nd in existence.
On March 13, 2011, the FBA was announced as a finalist in the Best Game category for the Ursa Major Awards. It eventually lost out to the Junction Point video game title Epic Mickey. Despite efforts by the contributors, it has failed to earn enough votes for a nomination in any year since.
 History of the FBA
The FBA was started in 2009 by Buck Hopper as backstory for his Buck Hopper character. At the time, the FBA only existed as a footnote in the character's description on TapestriesMUCK, suggesting that Hopper's team, the Layleaux Thrust, was part of a larger league of furry basketball players. Originally, it was not intended to develop into anything more.
Gradually, through role-plays on TapestriesMUCK and later through comments and questions posted to Hopper's account on Fur Affinity, details about the league developed. A handful of teams and other players were referenced in the character's backstory and in art pieces, suggesting at growing detail in the league. The FBA's growth took off on June 3rd, 2009, when the first of three Be-Hope articles were posted on Fur Affinity. The art pieces, made in the style of a sports magazine story, went into deep detail about Buck Hopper's character and his history with the league. Despite earning few looks or favorites, the art pieces inspired a swell of interest in the FBA by a handful of fans. That swell then inspired Baker to create the first seven episodes of The FBA Post Up Podcast, audio recordings produced in the style of a radio sportscast, to relate the story of Buck Hopper's team facing the Huntsville Mayors in the 2009 FBA Finals. Because the storyline was no longer being told from TapestriesMUCK, Baker decided to change the name of Hopper's team, replacing the Taps-only location of Layleaux with the name of the California county he grew up in, Stanislaus.
After the seventh episode of the podcast, interest in the FBA continued to grow. This success inspired Baker to take another step forward and design an entire league. In the fall of 2009, he invited his watchers on Fur Affinity to come up with new teams for the league, eventually settling on 24 with 4 teams in each of 6 divisions. He then invited his watchers to come up with players to fill the rosters of each of the teams, organizing them in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Once the rosters were filled, remaining slots were set aside for a bundle of new players created for the 2009 FBA Draft. The first FBA draft was held on November 1, 2009, and filled the final slots in the FBA rosters, allowing for the beginning of the first season of the FBA.
 2009-2010 Season
The first real-world season of the FBA began on November 18th, 2009. As Buck Hopper's first effort in managing a fantasy basketball league, the season was marked by a very primitive system and a strong dependence on random die rolls to progress. However it also laid down the foundation that would shape the future of the league.
 The 80-Game Schedule
In documents describing the FBA prior to the creation of the openly playable league, references are made to an 82-game schedule similar to that used by the NBA. However, once Buck Hopper decided on a 24-team league divided into two conferences of three divisions each, he found that an 80-game schedule was much simpler mathematically. It was decided that each team would play all three of its divisional rivals eight times each season (four games away, four games at home) for a total of 24 games, all eight of its remaining conference rivals four times each season (two games away, two games at home) for a total of 32 games, and all 12 of the teams in the opposing conference twice (one game away, one game at home) for a total of 24 games, making a total of 80 games per team. This has remained the standard for the FBA schedule since.
A schedule was not prepared before the beginning of the season, so the schedule was written out as the season progressed. This resulted in significant gaps between some games and no opportunity to look ahead to future games.
 Team Ratings
Even before any games were played, it had been determined that like in any professional sports league, some teams were stronger than others. To maintain a sense of different strength in teams, the clubs were given rankings from six (minimum strength for a pro club) to ten (best in the current league). This fed into the die-rolling system developed for determining winners, and became the starting point for rating the clubs for the first two seasons.
 Die Rolling
To determine the winner of each matchup, Buck Hopper developed a simple die rolling system. He would roll the number of dice given in each team's rating and select the six highest values rolled. In this instance, a team rated six would get the total of the entire roll while a team rated ten would get to throw out the four lowest die rolls. The home team was always given one extra die, and a team that had to play games on back-to-back nights would lose one die to indicate fatigue.
The team with the higher die roll won. In the event of a tie, another die roll would indicate the winner in overtime. The die rolls did not provide specific scores, so scored were invented by Buck Hopper based on the results-- as in a low number would indicate a low score and a high number would indicate a high score. Only the final score was reported.
This die-rolling system was demonstrated during episode #33 of the podcast Unsheathed.
An entire season was completed using this system. It lacked any significant control over the teams by the GMs and provided only final scores for the games. While the system worked, GMs asked for more control over their teams and for more detail in the games, as in scores per quarter and individual box scores. These would become new goals for the following season.
 2010-2011 Season
After the success of the first full season of the FBA, Hopper was encouraged to hold another. He made it a priority to add more detail to the die rolling system, allowing the FBA contributors to help decide the quality of the teams as well as find a way to reward teams that promoted defense over offense. The result was a complex new die rolling system, along with many new features.
Starting with this season, the FBA used computer software to determine the results of games. The first "FBA Engine" used Dicenomicon, an iOS app simulating rolled dice. A new die rolling system rolled exact scores quarter by quarter, allowing for overtime matches. The system still did not simulate box scores and had only minimal input from team general managers. Still, the GMs kept a brisk pace of trading throughout the season.
 2011-2012 Season
This was the first year that the FBA used custom software, with Buck Hopper writing a procedural application in Google Docs Spreadsheets for simulating games. The software produced a quarter-by-quarer score of the game and created values for individual player performance, but it was left to the FBA contributors to decide how the performances were reflected in box scores. Writers were encouraged to make up their own box scores based on the performance values.
This custom engine allowed General Managers some control over their teams by changing rotations on a per-game basis. Players had individual stats that compared against the opposing players, allowing for some strategy by the GMs to choose who would start each game. Because player stats were public and the spreadsheet was made available to GMs for testing, managers with more time to play test their lineups against opponents were highly rewarded, to the point of skewing the competitiveness of the game. It was decided after this season that all future stats and engines would be hidden from the contributors.
 2012-2013 Season
For this year, the FBA used Jump Shot Basketball, a Windows-based basketball simulator that allowed for custom rosters. The system became highly sophisticated with full ratings for each player and a robust management tool allowing GMs to choose their lineups and adjust the intensity of play for each player. A separate Head Coaching system was started putting the responsibility of team rotations in one contributors hands while team trading and contracts went to another. The Head Coaches then used a Google Docs Spreadsheet to submit their rotation changes and their instructions on player floor times and offensive or defensive focus.
The software generated full box scores that were saved in PDF format. The PDFs were published on furrybasketball.com along with auto-generated CSV files derived from the PDF data. This allowed for significant detail on individual player performances. This was the first season that the FBA had a full set of real world-style basketball averages at the end of the year.
Jump Shot Basketball provided a remarkable step up for the FBA, but it also had problems with some stats and wild scoring, with many games ending with 40+ point deficits. The FBA had planned on seeking a different solution for the coming season, a decision that was finalized when the developer of Jump Shot Basketball announced he would no longer support the software.
 Current Season
Starting on October 31st, 2013, the FBA has begun it's fifth season. This will be the last season before a planned season-long break in 2014, announced during the 2013 off-season.
This season saw a massive shift in the design and layout of the FBA. Prior to this season, most announcements were made on FurAffinity. Starting with this season, the primary place for announcements was on furrybasketball.com using a new MediaWiki installation. This season saw a number of new rules instituted as well to combat the physical aspects of players that had been submitted in years prior. Starting with this season, taurs and herms were no longer allowed, players had to be under 7' 7" and less than 351 pounds, and "personal" characters were banned. Later in the season, parenthetical species were also banned.
A new software simulator was found and customized for the FBA. Basketball-GM is a Java-based basketball simulation game. The developer created a customized version of the software that could simulate individual games based on a custom roster. This new engine was the first to include an injury system that was also customized for furry-based injuries like sprained paws and muzzle bruises.
A number of macros have been built to convert the CSV output of the new engine into WikiText. The data is loaded each game day into WikiFBA. Development is ongoing this season with new features being built into the website for easier navigation and more control over the teams, as well as easier writing by the contributors.
 The FBA Universe
Every FBA season begins with the Howlereen Invitational, the league's customary first pre-season match. Howlereen is always played on October 31st in Montana against an invited opponent, usually the defending league champions.
The first Howlereen Invitational was played in 1968 in the inaugural year of the Montana Howlers. Being the first expansion team of the league, the introduction of the Howlers franchise unbalanced the conferences by putting 4 teams in the Western Conference with 3 teams in the Eastern Conference. As an effort by team management to ease tensions in the league over the unbalance, the Howlers held the league's first ever pre-season match on October 31st, 1968. The event was such a success, the Howlers held a pre-season match on Halloween every year, until it's become the FBA tradition it is today.
 FBA Details
The FBA currently has 24 teams. 22 from the United States and 2 from Canada. The teams are divided into 2 conferences of 3 divisions each with 4 teams in a division. In 2013, two teams in the Western Conference were relocated forcing a reorganization of the divisions. The Northwest, Southwest and Midwest Divisions were all shuttered in favor of a new "time zone" based division layout.
 Western Conference
 Pacific Rim Division
- Alaska Arctics
- Hawaii Kahunas
- San Jose Thrust
- Santa Ana Spectrums
 Mountain Division
- Edmonton Totems
- Las Vegas Wildcards
- Montana Howlers
- Spokane Rapids
 Plains Division
- Dakota Bikers
- Santa Fe Whips
- Texas Lone Stars
- Winnipeg Voyageurs
 Eastern Conference
 Northern Division
- Albany Alphas
- Bangor Tides
- Newark Pride
- Plymouth Taproots
 Central Division
- Baltimore Spirits
- Lorain Firestorm
- Pittsburgh Keystones
- Williamsburg Minutemen
 Southern Division
- Biloxi Voodoo
- Huntsville Mayors
- Tallahassee Typhoons
- Tennessee Moonshiners
 Historical Teams
- St. Paul Mayors (founded in 1961, became the Huntsville Mayors in 1984)
- Hamilton Mariners (founded in 1920 as part of the Great Lakes Basketball League, joined the FBA in 1980, became the Albany Alphas in 1995)
- Rocky Mountain House Royals (founded in 1974 as an amateur team, joined the FBA in 1980, became the Rocky Mountain Rabble in 2004)
- Santa Cruz Clefs (founded in 1961, became the Kansas City Clefs in 2009)
- Tucson Demons (founded in 1961, became the Galveston Sand Dollars in 2009)
- Springfield Fusion (founded in 1995, became the Pittsburgh Keystones in 2010)
- Rocky Mountain Rabble (Changed their name from the Rocky Mountain House Royals in 2004, became the Rocky Mountain Royals in 2010)
- Rocky Mountain Royals (Sent to FBA D-League in 2011)
- Idaho Mounties (founded in 2006, became the Las Vegas Wildcards in 2012)
- Des Moines Blanks (founded in 1983, became the Edmonton Totems in 2012)
- Stanislaus Thrust (founded in 1995, became the San Jose Thrust in 2012)
- Galveston Sand Dollars (founded in 2009, became the Hawaii Kahunas in 2013)
- Kansas City Clefs (founded in 2009, became the Texas Lone Stars in 2013)
 See also
 External Links
- There's A Pittsburgh Furry Basketball Team, PSAMP sports blog
- "'We FBA Now': Community Building and the Furry Basketball Association" by Sam Ahearn, presented at the 2012 Ray Browne Conference on Popular Culture held at Bowling Green State University from March 30 to April 1.