Local Sports from The Courier
Saturday, July 21, 2012Fantasy football is serious business
It's that time of year.
The doldrums of summertime are upon us. With temperatures reaching triple digits, everyone is begging for a cool breeze.
It is also the time that football teams begin practicing for a new season. Two-a-days, seven-on-seven drills and training camps are the precursors to fall.
Players and coaches are not the only ones preparing, though.
Fantasy football owners across the country are pouring over magazines and web sites that contain precious player statistics and "insider information" to formulate an unbeatable draft plan.
For every head coach dissecting game film, there is someone in front of a computer screen honing their skills in a mock draft.
According to the Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision, more than 30 million people currently play fantasy football.
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association also states a 60 percent growth in participation over the past four years.
With magazines focused on fantasy projections along with pregame shows devoted to whether to start Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo in week 10 against the Eagles, there is no question fantasy sports has become a national obsession.
Before fantasy football, only Patriots' fans would have moaned when Tom Brady suffered a season -ending knee injury in the first game of the 2008 season.
Instead, there were millions slamming remote controls and cursing at the TV.
The question is, why do we love it so much?
How has a fantasy game, become a multi-billion dollar industry?
A recent Courier survey made it clear that a desire to play is as diverse as the people who participate.
Here are some of the responses:
? "The social aspect it creates with people in the same league as you and it gives you something to talk about. It's a fun way to stay in contact with people you don't get to talk to all the time."
? "The strategy portion. Finding out which players I should pick up from the waiver wire, and deciding which player to play."
? "Competing against friends in a game in which we're all knowledgeable, trying to outwit them."
? "Just the extra social interaction with friends... Plus it's fun to talk trash sometimes."
? "The constant analyzing of the draft to determine the best value available still on the board."
The truth is, fantasy football has evolved beyond a game played casually for entertainment value.
Two-thirds of those surveyed pay a fee to participate.
In fact, almost 80 percent are involved in more than one league every year.
On average, surveyed owners spend close to three hours a week making adjustments to their teams.
Fantasy football even crosses paths with real-life football.
Mark Ritzler, head football coach at Findlay High, says the entire football coaching staff has a league that they participate in together.
"Fantasy football gives us something to laugh and joke about as we coaches go through the weekly grind of preparing for our 'real' opponent each Friday,"
However, it isn't all fun and games.
"We all enjoy the competition and each coach obviously thinks they are smarter and can outdo the other when it comes to putting together their weekly rosters," Ritzler said. "We enjoy the weekly matchups and all the trash talk that goes with that."
It is that competition that is the driving force behind the fantasy addiction.
While playing with friends and family provides a nice bonus, numbers show the real pleasure comes from trying to outsmart and defeat your opponents.
Only three percent of those surveyed claimed that their league provided only fun and zero competition. Compare that to the nearly 40 percent who labeled their league(s) as extremely competitive.
The ability to create one's personal team and develop it into a finely-tuned, winning machine is what has made fantasy football a major success.
After all, armchair quarterbacks always know best and never make mistakes.
Fantasy football provides the opportunity for those individuals to prove themselves. To once and for all affirm that they really could do a better job than their favorite teams general manager.
Whatever the reason for playing, fantasy football is a unique experience that provides a real thrill that everyone can enjoy.
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