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“Fantasy Football: America’s Addiction,” A Solutions Showcase Exposé

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A scene from ESPN’s Fantasy Football Now TV and Web Special. CREDIT: Veness, Simon. ESPN Fantasy Football Convention Images. Digital image. Is This Real Life or Just Fantasy Football? ESPN Has NFL Fans in Rhapsodies. The Gaurdian, 26 Aug. 2014. Web.

Fantasy football is an entertaining game that America loves. About 13% of all Americans play fantasy football, while only 8.2% of all Americans play golf, and only 6.6% of all Americans watched the 2012 American Idol finale.  How is fantasy football invading the television market? How much effort do fantasy football fans put into it?  Can fantasy football cause stress? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered in this piece.

The two fantasy football sites that make up about 90% of the fantasy football industry, DraftKings and FanDuel, spent over $200 million dollars in advertisements during the 2015 NFL season. DraftKings has already landed a deal with Fox Sports saying that they would spend over 250 million dollars in advertising over the next three years via Fox Sports. FanDuel’s media investors are Comcast, NBC Sports, and Time Warner. “In our opinion, this level of TV ad spend is unsustainable,’’ said a September report by Eilers Research. “However, we do believe that each company has created significant brand value/awareness.’’ In 2015, DraftKings spent $131.4 million dollars on ads for a total of 40,283 national airings. Over the same period, FanDuel spent $74.5 million dollars for a total of 21,545 national airings. It almost seems impossible to watch any T.V. for an extended period of time without seeing one of these commercials.

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ESPN Football TV Personality Chris Mortensen speaks with youth at the ESPN Fantasy Football Convention. CREDIT: Veness, Simon. ESPN Fantasy Football Convention Images. Digital image. Is This Real Life or Just Fantasy Football? ESPN Has NFL Fans in Rhapsodies. The Gaurdian, 26 Aug. 2014. Web.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association says,”The average player spends three hours per week just managing his or her team. Players spend up to nine hours per week reading or watching something about fantasy sports.” This shows that people are dedicated to fantasy football, but when ESPN hosted the ESPN Fantasy Football Convention in Orlando in 2014, this got taken to a whole new level. Almost 500 fantasy football fans attended the two-day event. 500 people was the limit because they wanted every fan to get a better experience with more of a one-on-one kind of feel. Robyn Remick, ESPN’s vice-president of business development, said,”We are increasingly looking for content like this that we can put on air because there is a great opportunity to engage with our fans. It goes all over the world and there is no limit to it, while it is totally family-friendly.” The attendance fee was $349 for non-Florida residents and $249 for Florida residents. The event had tailgate parties with many big names including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, and Sara Walsh. It also included question and answer sessions, a photograph and autograph session, etc.  A New Orleans man attended the event for his thirtieth Birthday.  He said,”I just love fantasy football. I spend half the year anticipating the season, and the other half being in it. I am in 10 different leagues and have 500 bucks invested in the process. When I first heard about this, it was just the ultimate possibility, and it was my wife who said, ‘Let’s make this happen.’ I’m just totally thrilled.” Matthew Berry, who is considered a fantasy football expert, said,”My first experience of fantasy football was as a junior in high school, when my best friend asked me to play. I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever heard. It was just plain weird. But once I got into it, I was hooked, and I think that is the experience for the majority.” To think that fantasy football is attracting 500 people, and potentially more, to an event that costs up to $349 is crazy. This shows how far people will go to get advice for fantasy football and how fantasy football is captivating so many people in America.

      Fantasy football may also be altering the way we look at the actual football game. An example of this is stated in,”The Evil Genius Of Fantasy Football” article on slate.com. “In the context of fantasy football, the worst thing the Bears receiver can do to me is drop a sure touchdown pass. Nothing else really matters.” The fans of fantasy football always have the desire to win that week’s game and do the research for that week to win. We root for only a certain player on a team, and this alters how we look at football. We might say things like,”Frank Gore blocked so Vernon Davis could get the touchdown? What a useless idiot!” Another example from ahchealthenews.com is,”Who are we rooting for?” Rather than answer a team, you might say, “Doesn’t matter! As long as Player A gets me over 13 points, I win.”  In my experiences with serious fantasy football fans, their favorite team may be their fantasy team, not an actual NFL team.

          Can intense involvement in fantasy football cause stress?  Neeva Sandhu, clinical coordinator of the Advocate Addiction Treatment Program in Des Plaines, Illinois, says yes. “It is possible that a person could experience symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety from losing in fantasy sports,” Sandhu says. “With many people, it would depend on their perception of ‘locus of control’ and how much they invest into Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is a social entity, and people can tease each other about performance.” She says,“That can lead to a pressure to perform, and, ultimately, cause stress.” She also said,“The pressure to win and the financial consequences of losing present additional triggers and stressors for the individual.” These negative statements could deter people from playing fantasy football.

         Events that feature fantasy football, commercials that feature fantasy football, and with more people than ever playing fantasy football, I believe that fantasy football might become “America’s addiction” in the near future. Do you want to join the game America loves? For more information visit: www.itsfantasytime.weebly.com.

Written by Freshmen Ray Kovacsics as part of his Solutions Showcase Project.

Works Cited:

  1.       Berry, Matthew. Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  2.        “Is Fantasy Football Stressing You Out?” Health Enews. N.p., 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  3.        Pollock, Greg. “The Evil Genius of Fantasy Football.” The Evil Genius of Fantasy Football. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016. 
  4.     “The Two Companies Have Blanketed the Airwaves. DraftKings and FanDuel Ads Seem to Be Everywhere on TV Because They Are.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  5.      Veness, Simon. “Is This Real Life or Just Fantasy Football? ESPN Has NFL Fans in Rhapsodies.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.