The fantasy football craze has become overwhelmingly prevalent throughout my four years as a student here. It is nearly impossible to navigate the campus during football season without hearing someone complain about their lineup, ask a friend for advice, or belittle an opponent.
The yearly sports brawl that is fantasy football might seem like a waste of time. In a 2014 study, published by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, it was calculated that the dip in productivity during fantasy football season costs American businesses an estimated 13 billion dollars annually.
Those who are excessively critical of fantasy football fail to see all of the hidden benefits that it has to offer. I believe that everyone, male or female, avid sports fan or casual observer, young or old, stands to gain something from a season or two of fantasy. For those of you who aren’t already hooked, here’s why you should be.
Reason 1: It’s a great excuse to watch more football.
I am a lifelong fan of the Chicago Bears, who were arguably one of the worst teams in the NFL last year. While the Bears struggle on the field every Sunday, I struggle to root for them. It is tough to be a football fan if your team sucks. If you play fantasy football, it doesn’t matter if your favorite team sucks, because the players on your fantasy roster give you an incentive to still watch football. At this point, I don’t even watch most of the Bears’ games; I just watch the teams that my Fantasy players play for. There are 32 teams in the NFL, so why only watch one?
Reason 2: It will improve your business acumen.
The most popular presumptive major amongst Tam students appears to be business, so an activity that helps one refine business skills is bound to be productive. Woven into fantasy football are a number of useful skills that every individual could stand to improve. Negotiation is a huge part of a successful fantasy football season, and making trades is an excellent way to refine your negotiating skills. When making a trade with someone, you are forced to present and sell a player to someone by highlighting the player’s strengths. You then proceed to haggle with the other person you intend to trade with until you come to an agreement. So why drop $10 on “The Art of the Deal” when you can just play fantasy football?
Fantasy football will also improve your ability to analyze investment opportunities. When you draft or add players, you are investing in their ability to produce. It conditions you to analyze risk. If a player has been convicted of dogfighting (e.g. Michael Vick) or a team is incapable of producing offensive studs (e.g. the Chicago Bears), you will avoid “investing” in them. My years of fantasy football have taught me how to avoid investing in things that undermine my team’s success, which is a skill that is applicable in the business world. If I were debating going into business with an individual or company that had issues with morality or productivity, I would ultimately refuse to do so.
Reason 3: Fantasy football is a social activity.
Despite being brutally competitive at times, fantasy football can be a valuable social activity. A common practice among leagues throughout America is getting together on Sundays to watch the games. While these events may incite trash talking beyond what would be acceptable in any other environment, they are excellent bonding activities that bring league members closer together.
In addition to associating with close friends, it also allows you to spend time with people who you wouldn’t otherwise see. Because I am so dedicated to the art of fantasy football, and because of its presence at Tam, I have had scores of acquaintances and complete strangers come to me for advice. I usually ask them for advice as well, and from then on, we rely on each other for weekly fantasy wisdom.
Odds are, if you’re talking about fantasy football in public, someone is bound to interject. Being part of a league means you are also part of the much larger fantasy football community at school.
If you are even remotely interested in starting up a fantasy football league with a group of your friends, I urge you to do so. Regardless of the level of effort you put in, you can still be successful in your league, and enjoy playing. You can go crazy like I do, and spend hours analyzing players and tinkering with your lineup, or you can auto-draft and set a lineup for five minutes a week. So what are you waiting for? Call your friends and schedule a draft date. You’ll thank me later.