THE STATE OF THE FANTASY FOOTBALL UNION PAST & PRESENT
Des Boodram - @boxscoreprophet
Every so often it’s important to take a step back and enjoy the Fantasy Sports Industry specifically football, and now is as good of a time as any. The NFL season is upon us with training camps set to kick off in less than a month, and before you know it Week 1 will begins with a Thursday night tilt between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots. Once this happens, friendships are pushed to the side, wives are neglected, food and drink are consumed by the pound, work place productivity declines and you the consumer are fully immersed in your own fantasy football happy place, a zombification that will last almost half a year… and you deserve it!! But it’s June now, and before you enter the pit, let’s take a closer look at where we all have arrived, so that we can collectively appreciate an industry so essential in bringing so many different communities together.
Currently the fantasy football demographic is projected to increase to 75 million participants by the start of the season with two thirds of those participants being male. That’s right gentlemen, 50 million of you should be nothing but proud. Ladies, stop pretending to watch and get in a league already, it makes fake watching just to spend time with your husband all the more interesting… I guarantee it. The industry is filled with participants that are generally educated make over $75K/year, can hold a steady job and pay to play 70% of the time. In 2016 according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) the average DFS player spends $318 dollars on fantasy sports, which doesn’t include league fees, and other resources that require payment for access to premium information. I’m not here for my math skills, but if 75 million people spend even a portion of their hard earned money we very easily have an industry that is comfortably in the BILLIONS. I know you can hardly contain yourself given the notion that you are a mere vapor of these cumulative stats.
I’m a firm believer that you can not move forward effectively in life without a healthy understanding of your past, so for me it’s time reflect on how these old school, old timers handled player selection back before technology for this stuff existed and well before draft magazines and certainly before anyone knew what a sleeper was. I got my introduction to fantasy sports in the 90s with hockey of all sports. Some local media hack put the top 100 players in ten, ten-player tiers, and you simply had to choose one player in each tier to build your own 10-man team. Yes it’s super primitive, but I finished 16th out of 250,000 entrants in a severe case of beginners luck. Low and behold, consequently every year after that, I put way more time into this format and yielded far worse results. I didn’t play fantasy football until college as a way to socialize with my friends and spark my interest in the game I love.
I love hearing stories too, about first experiences playing fantasy football, or even unique experiences about epic wins or bad beats. I love hearing about interesting league formats and settings, and fun rewards or penalties for winning or losing. I currently play in a league where the loser has to take the SATs… we are all in our 30s. I’m not going to get too much into the Winkenbach era you can Google it yourself, but the first documented league was created in August of 1963, so you my friend are part of a 50 year history with every league you join and every pick up you make. The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL) was started by football experts for football experts to see you could prognosticate player performance more effectively. Ultimately it was started for the very reason, I encourage everyone to play… pure unadulterated fun. Within six years the game was being played in bars and the GOPPPL will draft for the 55th time this season. A league that originated with multiple kickers and defensive players, thank goodness for the evolution of the sport, but the leagues TD-only scoring setting still holds firm, and is something the league will not waiver on. Legarrette Blount never had more value. There are dozens and dozens of stories about leagues that have stayed in tact for decades, and there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, your league is trending that way as well. Football is great, winning at Fantasy Football is equally as great, but your stories are truly what makes the fantasy football world go around. Take time enjoy this history, and let us know your all-time fave fantasy moments.