The Growing World of Fantasy Sports

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Today, fantasy sports make for casual water cooler conversations in offices across the country. People fuel their passion for sports by engaging in online leagues that connect them to their favorite players. Sport managers even use fantasy leagues as marketing tools to spur interest in specific athletes and teams.

Discover how fantasy sports got started and how it has grown into the Goliath industry that it is today.

The Dawn of Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports did not begin after Internet usage became commonplace. In fact, the first fantasy football league debuted in the early 1960s. Several people from the Oakland Raiders organization jotted down the rules for the first-ever fantasy league.

In 1980, the Rotisserie method of scoring stepped onto the scene. The Rotisserie method, the brainchild of a group of journalists, ranks teams by performance across several categories. Fantasy baseball then became popular among journalists, and they started covering it in 1981 when Major League Baseball went on strike. The word spread, and more members of the public started to engage in fantasy baseball.

The Internet’s Impact

Image via Flickr by gongus

In 1989, roughly 1 million people played fantasy football. However, that number grew rapidly in the 1990s as the Internet took over in households across the country. No longer did fans have to search for people they personally knew who wanted to engage in fantasy leagues. Even strangers across the world could connect and share their passion.

2001 report from Fox News noted, “According to Carl Foster, of the Fantasy Sports Players Association, 70 percent of the 30 million fantasy sports players participate through the Internet.”

Fantasy sports players began to share their opinions and insights on their teams via the Internet, providing a new type of resource that fans use to learn about their favorite games.

Today’s Fantasy Sports Obsession

How huge are fantasy sports? Statistics from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association reveal more than 56 million people across the U.S. and Canada engage in fantasy sports. Fantasy sports players spend an average of $465 per year on league-related costs and other related expenses.

Sports enthusiasts who engage in fantasy leagues love these leagues for their complexity and social elements, as well as the simple thrill that comes with winning.

But fans and fantasy sports websites aren’t the only ones benefiting from these imaginary leagues. Forbes contributor Brian Havig says, “Fantasy football is the single most important marketing tool used by the NFL. Fantasy sports players watch more games, buy more tickets, and spend more money at stadiums than other sports fans.”

Daily fantasy sports are the latest trend in the industry. FanDuel, a website that offers the opportunity for players to engage in one-day leagues, recently raised close to $275 million during a single funding round.

Fantasy sports are as much a part of the sports world as AT&T Field or the New York Yankees. Expect fantasy leagues to continue to boom as fans look for ways to satisfy their desires to indulge in their favorite games.