The tradition and competition of being an owner in a fantasy football league is the driving force behind the history and longevity of fantasy sports. The legitimate, and sustainable growth and success of fantasy platforms such as Yahoo, ESPN and NFL.com is a product of the fact that fantasy football leagues are still King. There has been quite a movement around the world of fantasy sports and much of the buzz has been generated by the newly funded market segment of daily fantasy contests. New professional sports stadiums are being built with amenities to satisfy the fantasy sports fans including expanded WiFi, stat coverage and fantasy dedicated lounges on-site. All of this will help the industry grow as a whole but fantasy football leagues are the essence of fantasy sports in America.
Daily fantasy contest sites have plowed us over with their advertising blitz since the kickoff of the 2015 NFL season. Within a week we were subjected to the ‘training’ movement where we saw infomercials and radio advertorials. This went beyond sports radio and even into the world of political talk radio with Sean Hannity explaining to listeners how much he loves playing daily fantasy sports. Hour long advertising programs appeared on the guide of DirecTV and cable subscribers all over the country. It is difficult to remember an industry inundating the public with not only marketing but specific instructions on how to use a product. Still within the first two months of the season there is then the scandal of insider contest fixing. Nothing ruins the excitement of risking $1 to win $1,000,000 than finding out there are thousands of other entries in the tournaments who work at the other major daily fantasy operations and are creating optimal rosters to cash in against the data they have from all other players that week, anyway… then the State of Nevada prohibits these sites from operating within the State, claiming an opposing position to that of the daily fantasy industry’s belief that their game is not to be considered gambling by a specific carve out for fantasy sports in UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) of 2006. Within a week of the Nevada decision it’s the NCAA slapping sanctions on the daily fantasy sites saying they are not allowed to advertise during Championship events and more concerning to the industry, demanding a list of any NCAA referees or officials who have participated in any daily fantasy contests. The NFL has become the latest target of such inquiry only this time it’s coming from Congress in Washington DC. They are requesting information about any NFL players or coaches who have been participating in daily fantasy contests and this may get ugly.
The fantasy football leagues of America are what built this industry and they are what’s going to lead the way into the future of fantasy sports. The audacity of these daily fantasy sites to dismiss traditional fantasy leagues and try to coin the term “season long fantasy leagues” with a negative connotation. Their advertisements boast of the fact that you pick a new team every week so you’re not “stuck with the same players”. Fantasy football is all about the live draft, whether that’s in a serious room where all you can hear is the hum of the laptops or in a fantasy suite with strippers and shenanigans! But when it comes to football season and NFL Sunday, fantasy is all about dealing with injuries, being “stuck” with those stud players you swooped up at the draft and hitting the waiver wire to replace the busts. It’s is all about trade raping and trade rape prevention! Managing a fantasy team throughout the course of the season takes great skill and dedication. Owners are constantly re-evaluating the bottom half of their roster or changing their defense or kicker almost every week. No sweeter victory is there than taking down that loudmouth from the message board who was probably blacked-out drunk at the draft party. Reputations are on the line at the live draft, on the message boards and every week on the waiver wire.
There is no doubt that fantasy football is thriving in America but not everyone realizes that the fire burns in a world where the championship trophy is more important than the prize money. The penny-slot, impersonal, lottery world of daily fantasy sports is no rival for the spirit that lives with the great traditions and competitions that take place in the fantasy football leagues of America.