Fantasy Football What is Fantasy Football?

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Fantasy Football What is Fantasy Football?

Foreword by Michael Fabiano, NFL.com Fantasy Expert

I can remember a time when people who played fantasy sports were considered dorks. Nerds. Goobers. It was like being into Star Wars and being over the age of 10. You might as well have cultivated the entire look with a pair of black-framed, coke bottle glasses with white tape in the middle and a pocket protector.

You know, that look that Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards made famous in the cult hit, Revenge of the Nerds. Ironically, there was a line in that movie that serves as quite a comparison to life in fantasy land.

“They’ve been laughed at, picked on, and put down. But now is the time for the odd to get even!”

We now live in a world where it’s cool to rock “nerd” glasses. It’s OK to wear high-water pants that might be a size too small. You can watch Star Wars outside of the comfort of your mom’s basement—well, most of them. Did any of us really like The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones? Jar Jar Binks? Awful. It’s also now popular to play fantasy sports. Men, women, children…it just doesn’t matter. Everyone is playing.

If you don’t believe me, just check out the new research numbers conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA). Fantasy sports participation in both the United States and Canada has reached the 41 million mark. That represents a nearly 13 percent increase since the previous study (2012) and a massive 25 percent increase from a study that was conducted back in 2010. Forty-one million people!

That’s almost equal to the entire population of Argentina in 2013.

Of course, fantasy football is the clear-cut king of the fantasy sports mountain. It’s no longer just a hobby—it’s a passion that has grown alongside the popularity of the National Football League. In 2013, the FSTA reported that there were approximately 25.8 million fantasy football players in the United States alone. That’s double the combined population of New York City and Los Angeles! It has also been reported by the FSTA that right around $1.67 billion was spent on fantasy football during 2012.

Forbes reported last year that the NFL’s 32 teams are worth an average of $1.17 billion! That’s unreal.

That number figures to grow, too, as the FSTA says 80 percent of fantasy football players plan to participate in future leagues for the next decade. Of that 80 percent, 40 percent say they’ll play for the rest of their lives.

Now that’s commitment!

Fantasy football is also growing at the rate of a bullet train among younger NFL fans. In fact, the 18-and-under demographic is the biggest riser according to the FSTA. That means fantasy owners are starting to play in leagues earlier in life and are likely to participate for a longer period of time. Had fantasy football been as prominent in the 1980s as it is now, I’d have been playing it for over 25 years—and I’m “only” 40!

Being in the fantasy sports industry, I’m also seeing more and more players (current and retired) playing in leagues. Maurice Jones-Drew plays fantasy football. So do Ben Tate and DeAngelo Williams. Future Hall of Famers such as Kurt Warner and LaDainian Tomlinson, who were both fantasy superstars during their playing careers, are both playing in leagues. Kurt plays in multiple leagues, including one with his family.

Who else plays fantasy football? Hall of Famers Marshall Faulk and Warren Sapp are both in leagues. The NFL runs a celebrity league that includes Bobby Flay, Jerry Ferrara, David Boreanaz, Jerry O’Connell, and the WWE’s Bella Twins. Former Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson plays fantasy football. So do Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Rainn Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brooklyn Decker, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I could go on and on…did I mention that Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) plays fantasy football, too?

That’s right, my friends, we’re living in a fantasy world. And it’s not going to change anytime soon…if ever. The number will continue to rise, the popularity will continue to grow. The “Father of Fantasy Football,” Alfred Winkenbach, would be proud of what he and his friends created all the way back in the early 1960s. So for all of you fantasy lifers who have been called a nerd or spaz, break out those coke-bottle glasses.

It’s now cool to be you…

Exclusive Features
  • Draft anywhere with new mobile and tablet apps
  • Fresh new look with faster gameplay
  • Free live scoring with in-game video highlights
  • More than 200 custom league and scoring settings
  • Access teams on Xbox One, DirecTV, and Madden
  • More stats and data to make better decisions
  • Custom matchup previews and recaps

Notes