As we move closer to August, the anticipation is palpable for the beginning of a brand new football season, be it the NFL, College Football or even High School Football in some locales. What it also means, is that every non-sports fans biggest nightmare, Fantasy Football is also returning. Be it because the fantasy participant cannot miss a second of the action on Sunday’s, they have varying mood swings based on the outcomes of each week or simply because there is no interest, someone that has no interest in sports can become frustrated with friends/significant others/family members all-consuming obsession with the game. That begs the question: why is Fantasy Football so popular? I lay down my thoughts below.
Let’s first start off by debunking one myth, although people may not care about your individual team, people most certainly do care about fantasy sports, in particular football. According to the Industry Demographics of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, in 2017, 59.3 million people participated in fantasy sports in the United States and Canada. As a frame of reference, according to statista.com, 138,600,000 people watch Television every year but only 33 million people on average exercise regularly in a year! More people play fantasy sports than get exercise on a regular basis, that is scary to begin with! That does not mean the two have to be mutually exclusive, obviously, one can play Fantasy Sports and still be active. However, these numbers begin to formulate my point about why Fantasy Football is so popular. It provides an alternative reality for individuals that may not have fulfilled or have had the capability of fulfilling goals in the past. Everyone has a sense of pride and arrogance to them, and Fantasy Football allows for people to try to showcase that in a fun, friendly, competitive manner. Everyone always thinks they know more than the next guy. How quick are people in your league to tell you, “Yeah, I took Todd Gurley in the first round because I knew the offense would be more fluid with Sean McVay” or “I had my eye on Alvin Kamara the whole draft but just decided to wait to take him until the last round”, as if they had any clue who, in a pass heavy scheme, was going to be the bell-cow in an offense that also featured former Heisman Trophy Winner, Mark Ingram and Future Hall of Famer, Adrian Peterson? However, that is what makes it so exciting for individuals, the ability to have full control and autonomy over a team in an attempt to build the best roster against other friends and colleagues trying to do the exact same. Considering there are only 32 NFL GMs and only a handful of assistants, Fantasy Football allows for individuals to live out their own dream, doing something they love and is there really any harm in that?
On a little less cynical note, Fantasy Football, similar to gambling, just gives people added interest into something they may otherwise have no interest in. That is why although the individual players may get annoyed when Fantasy players annoy them about their performance, the NFL will never disallow it because of the added interest it brings into every game. It could be Week 14 and the Miami Dolphins are 3-9 playing the 2-10 Cincinnati Bengals but people will still want to tune in because they have A.J. Green and they are streaming the Dolphins defense. So an outsider may come along and say, “Why are you watching this, it’s 55-7 Miami with 1:20 left in the game?” and you will respond harshly and say, “Are you kidding me? The Bengals have the ball inside the Red Zone and if they score here, the Dolphins defense will lose two points and it could cost me!” Yes, we as Fantasy Football enthusiasts are probably insane but we certainly have a whole lot of fun in doing so.
So as the days become shorter and football continues to creep closer, just remember you do know more than the next guy, as long as you keep telling yourself that. Happy draft season to everyone and good luck in your upcoming leagues this year. I know I’m getting excited and apparently 60 million others are as well.
Credit for the statistics to: