Fantasy Football is a topic widely talked about during the NFL season and fall months. Most people can name at least one person in their inner circle who is a part of draft parties and spends Wednesdays fretting over trades and starting lineups.
It can take a while to get used to. Fantasy football is a lot of luck, but strategy is important too. Joining leagues where there is money or reputation at stake can mean putting in several hours developing strategies of who to play in a given week and reading reports on certain players.
But what have fantasy football leagues done to the game of football.
Has it commodified players? Has it hurt individual loyalty to a team? Has it brought more money into an already lucrative form of entertainment?
Well, in many ways- it has done all of that and more.
The concept of taking individual players from different teams in an effort to create a super-team has certainly commodified the players in the sport. When people have a vested interest in the outcomes of one running back, they have no reason to care what the team dynamic
looks like or what the team’s outcomes are. And when a player gets injured, many are left wondering it will affect their season. There is little thought to how the player’s career or life could be altered with that injury.
While NFL teams are not struggling to fill up stadium seats, there are new behaviors that people have picked up in recent years. There is almost a visible dilemma in sports bars with folks cheering for the home team and opposing fantasy defense at the same time. People are torn over which to favor and how to sulk in a home team loss if that meant that their fantasy team did well.
Fantasy football has also made the sport more money. ESPN and other sports networks have found ways to milk fantasy sports in creative ways in recent years- hosting all-day marathons or bringing “experts” on the air to give advice on choosing weekly starters.
Overall, fantasy football has certainly changed the game, but to what extent and for how long is unclear. Whether or not any of the damage is irreversible has yet to be determined. And how far will fantasy sports go? Will college sports see the same shift their way as other sports like baseball and basketball have seen? Only time will tell how this continues to change profession football and other sports at all levels.