By Hunter Doyle
Imagine you are the general manager of your favorite sports team. You get to decide which players to release and which players to sign and trade for. The organization has given you full control. The success of the team rests in your hands. Now, also imagine that some of your closest friends are general managers of other teams. You are competing against them for a championship. This is what fantasy sports are all about.
Clearly, users aren’t actually general managers but they get a toned-down experience. It gives fans a chance to compete against each other and build a team from scratch. Sanjay George from Philadelphia, PA says that “every sports fan has the desire to be a general manager” and fantasy sports provide the opportunity to do that for fun.
In fantasy sports, fans create a league with friends or strangers. In the league, they get to draft specific players to their team for the entire sports season. They receive points for the statistics those players have. For example, if a running back in football scores a touchdown and they are on your fantasy team, you get six points. The goal is to draft players who will put up a lot of points and help your team beat your opponent each week.
It’s a great way to be competitive with friends or to make new friends. Ian Hower from Bensalem, PA says that he “loves the competition”. In addition, he “ended up making a ton of new friends from fantasy football” and meeting people with similar interests who just love sports”. Matt Nelson from Ottawa, Illinois likes “the challenge of figuring out the positional matchups and scoring trends while having to account for things like the game script or the weather.” He adds that “most of the enjoyment comes from the competition of drafting and maintaining your team”.
Fantasy sports podcaster Chris McConnell from Atlanta, GA says that his love for sports sparked his interest in fantasy. His dad wanted help with his fantasy football team and the next season he got his own team in the same league. Fast forward to the present day and Chris has hosted sports shows following his time at broadcasting school. In addition, he runs a Facebook page and podcast for fantasy football advice.
What does the future hold for fantasy sports?
In North America, fantasy sports have become an increasingly popular trend. According to Hootsuite Inc., as of January 2020, there were approximately 246.3 million mobile internet users in the United States. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), of those 246.3 million users, an estimated 59.3 million of them play fantasy sports. Mordor Intelligence projects that the fantasy sports market will grow at a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 10.7 percent from 2020-2025. From 2020-2024, Business Wire expects incremental growth of about 6.28 billion.
In 2001, Frank M. Shipman III reported that “leagues for fantasy sports started almost 40 years ago and have grown to the point that there are now approximately 30 million participants”. This is no accident. Fans love it for multiple reasons.
There are multiple sports for fans to choose from. For example, there is fantasy football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, and even car racing as noted by MenaFN. Users can draft a team of athletes and keep that team for the whole season.
There is also the option to draft a new team weekly or daily depending on which website is used. Mordor Intelligence expects daily fantasy sports to dominate the market from 2020-2025. Fans can get a new attempt at winning each day through daily fantasy rather than waiting for the next season.
Not only has the sports industry grown over time but so has the popularity of athletes. Most sports fans have favorite athletes who they support by buying a poster of them or a jersey with their name on the back. Fantasy sports allows these fans to draft their favorite players to their teams.
Another reason that the market has grown is brand promotion as Mordor Intelligence points out. By creating fantasy leagues, companies can attract customers and promote their other products. This generates more revenue for their company and the fantasy sports market.
What are the effects and results?
Although fantasy sports are a growing trend, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a negative impact on them according to Business Wire. Sports are back for the time being but can be canceled at any time. Certain matchups can be canceled if necessary which makes fantasy sports more stressful. Plus, with sports betting and daily fantasy, some people might not have the money to waste due to the pandemic and the effects of it. With spikes in COVID cases recently, an increase in usage is also possible if people are stuck inside their homes again though.
This uptrend in fantasy sports has different effects. The most obvious negative effect is that people will gamble and lose most if not all of their money. It is difficult for some users not to keep coming back and betting money. This affects their whole lifestyle and could lead them down a bad road.
One positive result is the more fans are engaging more in sports. Fans tend to do more research and become more interested in the games as the year goes on. This boosts the fantasy market as well as the sports industry in general and the user is enjoying the games. Another positive effect is that the users morale might be up because they are having a fun time playing with friends. They also might meet new friends through different leagues.
Overall, while there can be some negative effects, fantasy sports are a great way to be more engaged in sports and have fun with friends. This is why it is such a popular trend in North America and why many expect it to further grow in the coming years. COVID-19 could change that outlook but it is not expected to have a drastic effect. Fantasy sports will continue to be a major part of the sports industry for the foreseeable future.