Football is back in America … and with it comes what some are calling an even more important “sport” — fantasy sports. What was once a fun way to one-up your coworkers has now become a multibillion-dollar enterprise. From online leagues to one-day drafts to office pools, fantasy sports — especially football — are huge.
Pro football is the nation’s most popular and most lucrative athletic enterprise. That used to be because of team loyalty, fan loyalty, and city pride. Then came the age of free agency.
People still love “their team” but loyalties aren’t quite like they were when your dad and his buddies gathered around to watch the game on Sundays. Today, people don’t idolize players like they did in the days of Unitas and Broadway Joe. Instead, they monetize them.
When Houston’s running back Arian Foster got hurt last year, that groan you heard was not Texan fans losing their all-world back, it was thousands of fantasy “owners” who had just lost their franchise back. That dynamic creates some strange bedfellows.
Hardcore Bears fans rooting for the Packers QB? Happens every week. Ravens fans betting on the Colts D or Giants fans hoping the Philly O can get it right this week? Yes, in the modern era of sports, the previously unthinkable happens all the time.
It’s no wonder, with organizations like DraftKings advertising a million dollars up for grabs every week and even office “conferences” offering hundreds in weekly winnings, fantasy football uses cold hard cash to destroy a lifetime of loyalty to a brand.
Fantasy football has even created an entire industry within a market. There was a time when watching the home team on Sunday was enough. Now true fantasy “owners” want to see multiple games in real time. This necessitates subscriptions services like NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows viewers to tune in for EVERY game.
In addition, true fantasy football addicts keep an eagle eye on scores as they are posted online and keep detailed spreadsheets and character charts like jock versions of Dungeons and Dragons players.
All of this leads to more people tuning into more football, which means more cash for teams, leagues, and players. Put up mad fantasy points on a losing team? Bet on that to bring you more cash at contract time. Because both you and your GM know people are watching.