Football fans from across the nation are applying their knowledge of the sport to fantasy leagues that allow them to compete against one another.
Fantasy football is a hobby that is gaining more popularity among fans. Participants enter into a league and pick players from different NFL teams to create their own fantasy team. They then compete against the people that are in their league. The estimated number of fantasy football players is in the millions and growing.
‘I started playing to have another reason to hang out with my friends, and have something to do,’ said Shant Shaahnazarian, a criminal justice major. He recently joined the bustling scene of fantasy players.
Wilfred Wickenbach, an Oakland area businessman and a limited-partner within the Oakland Raiders franchise, created fantasy football. In the 1960’s, he came up with the idea of creating your own football league using a point system. As stated in the original rules, the purpose of the league was ‘to bring together some of Oakland’s finest Saturday morning gridiron forecasters to pit their respective brains (and cash) against each other.’ This system and its guidelines would eventually be the basis of fantasy football today.
But it was too difficult to keep track of the numbers and calculate the points until the Internet came into play. The Internet allowed people to update their rosters, check their scores, and calculate their points with no hassle. The more the internet grows, the more websites are competing for their share of people participating.
Jared Kennedy, 20, just started his own fantasy football league. He has 12 people on his league, and they play for money. He has been playing for two years.
‘I watch sports shows and they always talk about it, and it’s a good way to make the game more interesting,’ said Kennedy, a graphic design major. ‘It makes the game more fun because you’re not just into one team; you follow many teams because of the different players on your fantasy team.’
According to Kennedy, fantasy football is very popular among the top sports shows on TV.
‘They have whole shows dedicated to fantasy football,’ he said.
Anthony Espinosa, 20, has been playing fantasy football for a few years. He believes that fantasy football is getting more popular because celebrities and sportscasters are all taking part in this craze.
Public leagues and groups are available for anyone to join, as well as random leagues for anyone interested in being randomly grouped. Private leagues are available, but one can only join by password invitation.
There are websites where you can register to play that are free, or websites that cost money to sign up. To fans that are really into the game, they might want to use a pay site because it offers tips and other benefits for fantasy players. These sites give rewards to the more successful fantasy leagues. Rewards may be cash, trophies, or even tickets to NFL games. Bragging is just as much an incentive though.
Bobby Meddil, 20, plays in a league with 12 players. He said that he plays for both entertainment and money. ‘It’s very competitive,’ said Meddil, a business major. ‘More people are watching, it’s all over TV,’ he said.
Before the season begins, there is a draft. All owners in a league draft players for each position from a number of eligible athletes, who can only play for one team per league. Each player in the league picks a number, and that decides what order you pick your players.
‘We meet in the very beginning, and draft all our players,’ Kennedy said.
The new season is just beginning and football fans from around the U.S. are gearing up to play in this realm of fantasy.