Fantasy… The Journey of your not-so-average Sports Fan
by Adam Vickers
So have you ever wondered what all the talk about fantasy sports is all about? Here is your chance to get insight into the life of a fantasy leaguer. There are many different types of fantasy leagues out there, and they range from small groups of 5 or 6 good friends, to company or nationwide leagues. In an article on Newsgames by Ray Vichot, it was claimed that Fantasy sports are a $1.5 billion industry, with an average cost per team being $150. Fantasy sports began with some guys getting together and crunching baseball stats, and then found its way to football. The endeavour into football is what really kicked off fantasy sports, as it allows America’s biggest sport to be an outlet for fans to get more out of the game. Not until the dot com era and the rise of the internet did fantasy sports really find a home. With the rise of the Internet came a slew of fantasy sport websites, where fans from all over the world could get quick up-to-date stats on how their team players were doing.
Fantasy sport enthusiasts begin by picking players from a pool of professionals. Depending on the sport, the stats of each professional are scored differently. Each sport has different types of pools, changing according to the size of the pool. In bigger pools, the goals are a bit different as there are too many people to have every player picked once; a league needs to allow all players to be picked for any team at any time. In bigger pools, one can change their lineup to get the top point performers each week so that, by the end of the season, one will win the league by having the most points. In other versions of big pools, one picks players from smaller subcategories of players at the beginning of the season, and then, at the end of the season, whichever team has the most points wins. Compared to the bigger pools, smaller pools require a lot more attention and research. In smaller pools, one often has a fantasy draft of all players in the league, and can pick each player only once, making it difficult to get the players one may want. Once drafted, teams can trade, pick up, or drop players to improve their fantasy teams. In these pools, one usually has weekly matchups against different teams in the league. The teams with the most wins make it into the playoffs, where teams battle it out in the last weeks of the professional leagues season to find an overall winner of the pool. Every sport is scored differently, as all sports have different positions and rules.
Each pool also has different point allocations depending on individual fantasy league rules. In general, leagues run on these premises: in football, there are a number of different positions, and each position is scored somewhat differently. In general, offensive players are scored individually, getting points for touchdowns, rush, passed, or received; defensive players are scored as a team defense, getting points for turnovers and losing points from beginning, floated points as the team is scored on by the opposing team. In hockey, all players are scored individually with skaters getting points for goals, assists, plus/minus, and penalties; goalies get points for wins, shutouts, and any points that a skater would also get points for.
Why is it a big deal for fans of all types of sports? It is simple: engaging in fantasy sports are much like the fantasy books we read that give us a sense of being somewhere else. Fantasy sports allow armchair coaches a chance to participate in the sports they love to watch. It gives people a chance to cheer outside the teams we would die for and cheer for ones we built ourselves. Fantasy sports allow an escape from reality and create a personalized team that we think will win, rather than merely accepting the adjustments made by professional general managers. Fantasy truly is a journey down a rough road filled with adversity and heartbreak, not just for your average fan.