Football has become one of the largest grossing sports in the world. From jerseys, ticket sales, television air time, commercials, online shops and video games; the National Football League has brought in billions of dollars over the past decade. With the success and growth of the NFL, the number of fantasy football leagues has also skyrocketed in the past few years. People play fantasy football with their friends, family, co-workers and sometimes join random leagues to compete against football fanatics from all over the country. However, some say that the game ruins people’s loyalty to their team. So what is fantasy football, and why is it so popular?
It all begins with a realistic NFL draft. After buying fantasy guides, magazines, listening to fantasy football analysts and researching past statistics and projections, the fantasy football player acts as a general manager and begins the draft with his league. The selection may take place at the league commissioner’s house or in an online program. In some cases, the commissioner will throw a big draft party and serve food and drinks. The team owner will then go through 12 to 16 rounds, depending on how many people are in their league, and select the players he or she thinks will best fit the team.
After the draft, the teams will set their lineups according to how well they think that player will perform in actual game play. Most leagues allow the player to start one quarterback, two running backs, a flex option (running back or wide receiver) two wide receivers, defense/special teams, and a kicker. In most leagues the quarterback earns the team one point for every 25 yards he throws for, and six points for every touchdown he scores. Running backs and receivers get one point for every 10 yards they gain. Defenses earn points for fumbles, interceptions and touchdowns. All of these points add up to a win for the Fantasy football player’s team.
When the first couple weeks pass by, the owner of the team will evaluate his players and their performances, then contemplate trade possibilities. He can trade one or multiple players for someone he thinks has been doing well and will continue to succeed. Usually the first offer is denied, but after negotiations both owners will agree upon what they think is a good deal for their teams. The owner can also release players that are playing poorly and add free agents that have been doing well. A lot of these transactions occur when one of the owner’s players gets hurt and needs a quick replacement.
Fantasy football leagues can have prizes too. Many leagues have buy-ins and the winners of the league can collect various amounts of money at the end of the season. When money is on the line, however, some owners will turn against their favorite team to root for a player they may have on their team. For instance, if I were a Green Bay Packers fan and the Packers were to play the Vikings(whose star running back, Adrian Peterson, is in my fantasy line-up), I may root for Peterson to score touchdowns and run all over the Packers since it helps my chances of winning in my fantasy league, regardless of the Packers scoring.
Now, I would never root against the Packers, but millions of people turn against their team and disregard their loyalty for a couple hundred bucks at the end of the season. Is it right? No. Does it happen? All too often.
Although fantasy football is a fun game and gives people the chance to hang out with friends and family more often, something needs to change so that you don’t root against your team. We shouldn’t wish for a 56-53 victory where Adrian Peterson runs for 305 yards and six touchdowns. Being a fan is about cheering for your team, not against it.
Solutions to this issue are hard to come by. The fantasy football player could always just draft players from his favorite teams, but his record at the end of the season would be terrifying. There is another way the fantasy football websites could engender team loyalty to fantasy football players. In a perfect world, the website would ask each player before the season begins what his or her favorite team is. We’ll use our Packers-Vikings example. Say I select the Packers as my favorite team, and I draft Adrian Peterson of the Vikings with my first pick. When the Packers play the Vikings later in the season, I would get six bonus points if the Packers win the game. Six points is equivalent to a touchdown in most leagues, so I could have Adrian Peterson play a great game like he always does and still cheer for the Packers to win the game, and get rewarded with points if they do. Everybody wins!