Allure of fantasy sports

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They are often defined as sports competitions in which participants learn to manage, own and coach games based on the statistics of actual players, but what seems to excite most players is the ability to combine traditional sports with virtual convenience.

No longer do people have to physically manage a sport – this experience can be gained virtually through involvement in Fantasy Sports.

“I think fantasy sports are a fun way to compete with your friends (or strangers) from the relative safety of your own couch,” Keelin Jacobsen, graphic design and digital media major, said.

What do these sports have that is enticing to participants?

“The game is primarily an online service that is completely customizable, interactive and involves nearly every major professional sport from [football] to bass fishing,” Brendan Dwyer, director of research and distance learning at Virginia Commonwealth University, said. “In addition, fantasy sports allow fans to simultaneously follow their favorite sports while actively competing and interacting with family, friends and acquaintances.”

“When conducting a trade or picking up a free-agent, it is important to look at both their match-ups for that week and their stats for the season,” Jacob Shackelford, junior, said. “If you can exploit a match-up in which you are able to pick up a player who might have a huge week and get a lot of points, that could be the difference in winning or losing for that week.

“If you aren’t familiar with player stats or numbers, it can be difficult to know if they will perform well or not. Thankfully, there are fantasy sports analysts who tell you who they believe will have a big week. Of course, like the weatherman, these people are not always right.”

Fantasy sport fans are increasing; however, there is also a great population of individuals who have never heard of them.

“I don’t currently play fantasy sports because I have never had much knowledge about them, and they never really caught my attention,” Olivia Martinez, sophomore, said. “It seems geared toward those who are already sports fans.”

Indeed, the majority of those that are currently participating in a fantasy sport are those that already have knowledge about current sports teams. They also know how they can perform altogether.

“I decided to play fantasy football because I wanted to see how well I could manage a team. I thought I knew a lot about football and, therefore, would be able to put together a winning team and win a championship,” Shackelford said. “However, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know and how much I needed to learn in order to achieve my goal. All in all, it was a fairly successful season for my team. I ended up No. 2 in the regular season league standings and lost in the semi-final round.”

For this reason, most advertisements target this specific audience, making sure to have them maintain constant involvement and not focusing on those that are not aware of this fantasy sports rage.

“I think many students in the athletics realm do play fantasy sports, but other than that, not very many seem to,” Jacobsen said.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, “Fantasy sports participation has grown over 60 percent the past four years with over 32 million people now actively playing in the U.S. and Canada.”

What evolved from using paper and pen have become convenient through the use of technological devices in which people can interact and compete with others across the nation.

“I play fantasy sports because I’m a huge basketball fan. Fantasy sports gives me a way to interact more closely with the NBA in general, the teams and the players,” Jacobsen said.

College students who watch sports teams are more likely to participate in the management of a fantasy sport.

“If you have an interest in sports and like to compete, I would recommend that you check it out,” Jacobsen said. “It can be overwhelming at first, but it’s easy to catch on to. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s better than spending your free time watching cute cat videos on YouTube.”

Because there has been continuous involvement in fantasy sports, there has also been an increase in awareness of current sports teams.

“I don’t do very much research for my team. I might look at the available players and their stats once a week or so, but that’s as far as my research goes. After all, I do have to fit school into my busy fantasy sports schedule,” Jacobsen said.

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