Fantasy football, once considered a nerd’s game, amidst gambling scandals and lack of NFL recognition, has been able to push their industry to the forefront in the past few years.
Matthew Berry, ESPN Senior fantasy analyst, has been dubbed the “godfather” of fantasy football, and gets much of the credit to the thriving industry. In fact, he was one of the first to be inducted into the Fantasy Writers Sports Association (FWSA) hall of fame. Because of Berry, and many others, the fantasy football industry is constantly growing.
So, today, we’ll dive a bit deeper into how and why this is occurring.
In 2016, there were approximately 57 million male fantasy sports players in North America alone, according to new research by Ipsos Public Affairs in Canada on behalf of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA). Their research began in 2013 and the boom is to have reportedly occurred in 2015, with a 15 percent growth rate.
This past year was the highest the participation has been since studies began, and for fantasy in general with a one percent increase. The industry is rapidly increasing because of the emergence of technologies such as the internet, and smartphones.
But, these rapid advancements have startled lawmakers in various states, as lawmakers see fantasy, mostly daily fantasy, as “illegal gambling”, or something they’re not making money on.
At the moment, lawmakers are figuring out a way to tax daily fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings & FanDuel, then it will most likely be deemed legal.
The question is whether or not fantasy is a game of skill like Poker. If so, or deemed so by a court of law, expect heavy federal regulation.
Additionally, Tony Romo, former NFL Quarterback, had his fantasy football convention cancelled two straight years by the NFL, former employer, because of unspecified legal issues.
The dilemma to regulate is similar to the infinite amount of Supreme Court cases that were decided when the internet, itself, first started gaining momentum in the late 90’s/early 00’s.
Paul Charchian, FSTA President, said “After two years of rapid growth fueled by the innovation of daily fantasy sports it’s a true testament to the loyalty and passion of fantasy sports players that so many recent adoptees have become regular players while the industry continues to attract new players.”
Fantasy players cite reasons for loving the game to be: having a second screen companion, watching their point totals increase in real time over their digital devices, and a social activity that can keep friendships going no matter the geographic differences.
Personally, I’ve had a fantasy football league, and group chat, with high school friends every year since we’ve graduated, keeping in touch.
To round things out, other key findings contributing to the growth of fantasy are only a reported 46 percent of current players would keep a league supported media service (tv channels, satellite service, apps) if they weren’t playing fantasy, tying back the emergence of advanced technologies with the growth of fantasy.
To drive home that point, a reported 61 percent of players consume fantasy thru a mobile device, gaming console, and inter-connected tv.
Additionally, 55 percent of players say they are only playing fantasy because of the emergence of advanced technologies, it’s easier now.
Moving on, 64 percent of players are only watching NFL games to see how their fantasy teams do.
The top fantasy football websites are ESPN and CBS.
Jamey Eisenberg working for the former is my favorite analyst.