There was a minute left in the recent Monday Night Football game between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers, and I was pulling my hair out. I had Austin Davis, the Rams quarterback, on my fantasy football team. The person I was playing had the San Francisco defense, and they intercepted a late Davis pass and returned it for a touchdown. My fantasy lead had evaporated. With :43 seconds left in the actual game, my team was down one-and-a-half points. The next drive, Davis reached 200 passing yards for the game, and because of that the 49ers defense lost two fantasy points. The game clock hit triple-zeroes, and I won my matchup. I was beyond relieved. I can say this with absolute confidence: nearly every guy reading this has been in this position before.
Fantasy football is a billion-dollar industry. It is estimated that over 40 million people today play it. Almost every single one of my friends plays it, and many of them are in multiple leagues. For those of you that are not clear on what exactly fantasy football is, allow me to explain while keeping it as simple as I can. It all starts with a draft, where you chose the players that will make up your team. The players get points each week based on their real life stats, and they combine to give your team a total score, and if your team outscores the other person’s than you win your matchup. Fantasy football is much bigger than you may think.
In a survey that I sent out to the school, 83 percent of people said that they either play fantasy football, or know someone that does. In a recent demographic released by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, it was estimated that well-over 40 million people play fantasy football. It was also discovered that roughly 18 percent of all teens play fantasy football. Considering there are just under 42 million teenagers in the United States today, it is safe to say that about 7.5 million people between the ages of 13-19 play fantasy football. When I asked people if they knew anyone that plays fantasy football, none of them were able to answer “no.” It is inescapable. But why do we love it so much?
Maybe it is our natural inability to sit still for a long time. When watching NFL teams go head-to-head every Sunday, many people find themselves needing to fiddle around with something else, while also wanting to keep interest in the games. For that, fantasy football is a perfect fit, as it correlates directly to the games in front of you. Maybe it’s the opposite. Rather than being bored just sitting there watching the games, maybe people want a way to be more involved, so they turn to fantasy sports as a way to add another element to their football viewing experience. The reason that seems most likely to me, however, is neither of these. I happen to think the reason that fantasy football is so popular is because it gives normal people the opportunity to run their own team.
Everybody likes the idea of being in control. A job that entails the “wealing-and-dealing” of high profile athletes in exchange for other players is something that appeals to even the most casual fans. As the manager of a fantasy football team, you truly get to live out your fantasy of running a team of your own. You get to go through a draft, sign and release players, and make trades throughout the season. The spirit of competition is also a big part of why it is so entertaining as well.
I am in a fantasy football league with my friends, and I love them to death. Most of the time, I would rather live on the streets than lose to them, and I’m sure they feel the same way. I never like losing, but losing to my friends is one of the worst feeling ever, and you’re lying if you don’t feel the same way. That’s what makes fantasy football so much fun. Nothing feels better than beating your friends, and nothing worse than losing to them. It makes the matchups mean more. If you just played against people that you never talked to, it wouldn’t be as fun. The trash-talking before and after the games make you want to win that much more. It’s what makes so many people play year-after-year.
People are always going to play fantasy football. For all the aforementioned reasons, it is impossible to stay away from. I have been in leagues where people quit, and 2 weeks later they were again in control of their team. It is impossible to stay away from. I understand this makes me sound like an overly obsessed superfan, but in reality it just makes me a normal guy. Fantasy football will never go away. Just try playing it, and you will see.