Catching onto the fantasy sports craze

It’s not enough to just be a sports fan anymore. We need something more interactive that lets us be in the driver’s seat calling the shots.

Enter fantasy sports. For those of you who don’t know, fantasy sports puts you into the role of “manager” and lets you pick and draft real-life players for a fictional team. You then use the real-life statistics of those players to determine which team in a fantasy league is doing the best.
Yahoo! Sports, Sportsline, and ESPN give people the option to create a team in fantasy baseball, football, hockey, soccer, golf, tennis, and auto racing.

Fantasy cricket is also available in the United Kingdom, and you can imagine how into fantasy cricket some people will get…

Bob: “Did you see that cricket match between Derbyshire and Worcestershire last week? When Sutton stumped late in the match, my yelling nearly woke the entire neighborhood I was so happy. Those 50 points helped me win.”

Tom: “Lucky for you. I forgot to put him in my lineup last week. I ended up losing badly because of all those wickets taken while Derbyshire was bowling.”
Magazine writer and editor Daniel Okrent is credited as the mastermind behind the concept of fantasy baseball. He pitched the idea to some friends in 1980 when dining at La Rotisserie Française in Manhattan.

The real innovation behind “Rotisserie League Baseball” is not so much the concept of letting you trade, draft, and form “fake” teams (something good old baseball cards could do), but having you draft teams from an active list of Major League players, forcing you to make decisions like a real manager faced with the uncertainty of players’ performance and health.

The fate of your team relies on your players’ statistics during the ongoing season as opposed to statistics from previous seasons.

Over the past 25 years, with the advent of the Internet, fantasy sports have become extremely popular, as more than 15 million Americans play fantasy sports, estimates the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
Fantasy football, with over 10 million participants, has surpassed baseball as the most played fantasy sport. The majority of participants are male, 35–45 years old, and have average yearly salaries of $89,000.

Fantasy sports are a good way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in each sport. You might not normally care when the San Francisco 49ers play the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football; however, if you’ve got Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith in your lineup, you suddenly transform into their biggest fans.

You become glued to the television for every snap, and whenever Boldin makes a catch, you cheer as if you were his own father, tears streaming down your face.

As for Alex Smith, well, you’ve got problems if you have Alex Smith and his measly 40.8 QB rating on your team, so don’t be surprised with his zero-touchdown and three-interception performance.

Some fantasy sports can get expensive. According to research done by the University of Mississippi, in 2003, the average fantasy baseball player spent approximately $180 to participate.

Many fantasy sports websites let you play for free, including Yahoo! Sports, so many fantasy gamers play for bragging rights instead of money.

Fantasy sports are a fun way to stay in touch and compete with friends and family, as you can create your own leagues with the option of playing against complete strangers or with good friends.

Fantasy sports have a dark side, however, as they have the ability to turn the friendly, casual fan into a diehard, cutthroat enthusiast obsessed with winning. No longer interested in just a favorite team or player, this person analyzes every aspect of every player to gain an advantage to make his team better.

There are horror stories of people putting so much time into fantasy sports that it gets in the way of their daily lives, and it’s been known to ruin friendships and relationships.

If you find yourself spending more than an hour or two a week updating your fantasy teams, your grades are slipping, and you’re not getting any sleep, take a step back and look at the big picture.
You’ll quickly realize that you’ve got a lot of money riding on that fantasy team, so you’d better buckle down and spend more time putting it in a position to win it all.