By KYLE BENNETT
Fantasy sports are one of the most popular Internet games in America. It gives fans a more personal connection to professional players. It also gives groups of friends a chance to come together and face off every week for bragging rights over one another.
Fantasy football is the number one fantasy sport in the world. Fans countdown the days until the NFL season begins, knowing that their fantasy year is on the horizon. Extreme fans will even host a draft party and have multiple computers and smart phones in a common room just for the “real life draft” aspect.
Many fantasy owners take their seasons as serious as they would with their favorite NFL teams. In many cases, fantasy football leagues have a pay in fee that range from $10 to $1000. There is even a league known as the Tattoo League, in which the loser must get a tattoo of the winner of the league’s choice.
Most leagues are not as hardcore as the Tattoo League, but they can be pretty intense as the season rolls along.
According to Forbes.com, it is estimated by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association that 32 million people aged twelve and above in the US and Canada played fantasy sports in 2010. Fantasy football players consist of 90% of the fantasy sports industry. Participation has grown by over 60% the last four years with 19% of males in the U.S. playing fantasy sports. One frightening marker for our economy is that 30% of fantasy footballers manager their teams while on office computers.
The league I joined this year with 11 of my good friends has been a rollercoaster for almost everyone. I was projected in the preseason predictions to finish 13-1 and cruise into the playoffs with a bye week; boy, was that prediction wrong. I am currently sitting on the bubble of making the championship playoffs or having to settle for a high draft pick. The stress and strategy that comes with being in a very competitive league can take a toll on you with things like over strategizing or signing the right player off of waivers or free agency.
Many fantasy players like the fact that they also connect with the players they draft that season and some of them even become some of their favorite players in the league. I asked my league’s commissioner, Mikey Ostrowski, why he thinks Fantasy Football is so popular. “I think Fantasy Football is so popular because it gives each person in a league more of an understanding of the NFL and it gives fans a personal connection with players, even if they hate the team they play for.” Personally, I have become a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Giovanni Bernard, just because of how well he has played for me since I signed him off the waiver wire in the beginning of the season.
The strategy and complexities of fantasy football is what makes it such a successful and entertaining business. Fans continue to play year in and year out for the sheer excitement and entertainment of following their core players and rooting for them to do well, all while hoping their opponents players are a complete disaster that week.
With the amount of websites that host fantasy football leagues, such as yahoo.com, espn.com, rotoworld.com, nfl.com, cbssports.com, and foxsports.com, fans have a variety of websites and rules to look at before making a decision.
Fantasy Football even has television programs on NFL Network and ESPN2 on Sunday mornings where viewers can use Twitter and Facebook to ask the analysts questions on what they should do with their team, who to trade, or who to start and bench that week.
Although the NFL season is approaching the playoffs, it is never too late to gather some friends and start a league of your own for the 2014 season. Start a league and have fun with friends and Fantasy Football.