Friday, November 27, 2009

For the Love of Fantasy

(Ran 11/12 - Don't let the title excite you, it's nothing raunchy)

I am one of roughly 22 million Americans who take part in fantasy sports each season. I'll shout it from the rooftop - I love fantasy football!

Being in a fantasy football league has made me love, hate and respect my friends at a new level. I have learned that trash talking is an art form much like writing Haiku. It is as addictive as coffee and perfect for A.D.D. adults like myself. Now I can be in three leagues and burn some of that bottled energy.

I anticipate draft day, sifting through fantasy-specific magazines, reading every article by the Talented Mr. Roto, and getting everyone else’s expert opinion before preparing my own draft order.

I’m not alone. Last year, roughly $800 million worth of products and services were generated by the fantasy industry in 2008. And I’m also not alone in saying it’s worth every minute and every penny.

The great thing about fantasy football is that even if you are a fan of the Detroit Lions, Sundays can be fun if you’re in a fantasy league. Even if you have nothing to cheer for with your own team, you have individual players (and a defense) to cheer for in most games. It’s got to be the most genius aspect the NFL ever came up with – and they didn’t even think of it.

It cannot be overstated – it is necessary for professional football to be involved with the fantasy industry. In the NFL, unlike college, there are no real rivalries older than a few decades. But any person can draft a team and have a reason to watch every single game on TV. With rapid fantasy football leagues, the NFL will never - I repeat never - have a viewership problem.

Ten years ago you never saw all players who were "probable," "questionable" and "out" scrolling across the screen all Sunday morning on ESPN. That isn’t for the everyday fan to know who on their hometown team is out – it’s so fantasy owners know who to play in their weekly lineup.

What began in 1962 between a group of five men in Oakland has turned into a money-making machine beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

Thanks in large part to fantasy, the NFL had overtaken MLB as the most popular sport in the U.S. Sure, people play fantasy baseball, but it’s so much more time-consuming, having to change your lineup every single day, and with less strategy than a 16-game football season.

Many people don’t understand the draw… I think the best way to describe it is that it allows me to have a real, tangible reason for checking scores and stats each week, aside from pure entertainment.

Maybe it can turn into an obsession, and can make us all a lot less productive at work… but it sure is fun.

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