Fantasy sports are a growing industry in the United States and Canada with over 30 million players. Playing fantasy sports is now a social norm, most males 12 years old and above play some form of fantasy sports. This growing hobby is great for people who love playing the game but are fantasy sports hurting professional sports?
The way fantasy sports work is pretty basic. You draft a team with the goal of getting the most points, and whoever gets the most points wins the league. The way you get points is by accumulating statistics. So let’s say you play fantasy football. The team that gets the most touchdowns and yards wins the match up against the opponent. Everything is based off of individual statistics, and the players who produce the best stats are the best players to have. Like professional sports, there are a regular season and playoffs. In the end, the winner of the league gets bragging rights for the year and maybe a trophy, but not much else. Fantasy sports seem as if they wouldn’t affect professional sports, but they do in some ways.
Before fantasy sports, watching a sport was all about rooting for your favorite team and watching them every time they played on television. But when you play fantasy sports, you only watch the players that you have on your team. Instead of rooting for the 49ers, you root for Tom Brady to throw three touchdowns against them but you still want the 49ers to win. The fact the Tom Brady dissected your favorite team’s defense is upsetting but as long as you won your fantasy match-up you are happy. It’s difficult to root for a professional team and a fantasy team. Sometimes rooting for your fantasy team becomes more important than rooting for your favorite team. Someone I know recently bought season tickets to the San Francisco 49ers to prove that he still loves the team more than his fantasy team. Instead of watching his fantasy players on Sunday, he’s going to watch the team that he has watched since a child. One way that fantasy sports hurts professional sports is that it makes you choose between your fantasy team and favorite team and sadly a lot of people chose their fantasy team.
Since fantasy sports are all about individual statistics, this takes away the team aspect of sports. Great teams win championships, not great players but because of fantasy sports’ popularity, the performances of individuals matter more. As great as Michael Jordan was, he would have never won those six championships without Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and the rest of his teammates. But in fantasy sports, Michael Jordan’s teammates would not matter as long as Michael Jordan continued to dominate. The team game is less appreciated. All sports are team games and it is impossible to win in a sport unless you have a great team. An individual player cannot win a championship, only a team can.
For me, fantasy sports are a hobby that teaches me about players I would never know about. So fantasy sports have some positives to them for the sports world. They make people more aware of little-known players, because to be good at fantasy sports you have to know about good players who are not superstars. Fantasy sports gross billions of dollars a year for many media companies. Numerous websites and magazines are devoted solely to fantasy sports coverage. This industry is a financial gold mine and it continues to grow in popularity.
With all this said, I am an avid fantasy sports player. I have been playing since my freshman year of high school. My friends and me have teams for nearly every fantasy sport, baseball, and basketball and of course football. It’s a hobby that consumes numerous hours of my free time but once if you play fantasy sports you would understand why. It is the most addicting thing; it’s like a drug. Analyzing all those stats, drafting a team and picking up free agents are the best highs. It’s all done in fun but it can get a little out of control, because the amount of time it takes. Since I play so much, I think that it has hurt my level of fan hood for some of my teams. For instance, last year my fantasy football team became more important than my favorite professional team, the 49ers. My fantasy team won a championship and the 49ers, well; they finished on a good note but only won seven games. Maybe if the 49ers were more like my fantasy team I would root for them with more intensity. Hopefully my addiction won’t further affect my appreciation for professional sports. Foe everyone out there that plays fantasy sports, don’t let them consume your life or your appreciation for professional sports because your teams need you to root for them.