Fantasy Football: Does the Game of Skill Attract Gamers
Fantasy football is a huge industry in the United States, with an estimated 59 million people joining in each season. The fantasy sports industry as a whole is valued at over $7 billion, and approximately 80% of all participants choose fantasy NFL over other fantasy sports. The popularity of the game is such that several prominent online bookmakers and casinos now offer fantasy football leagues as part of their service. These leagues undoubtedly attract new people to online casinos and bookmakers, but do they attract those who are already there due to a love of gaming? NFL Fantasy is a game of skill that has seen huge success due to be people loving the competition.
Fantasy Sport Demographics
Statistics from the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association based on data from a 2019 survey found that approximately 81% of fantasy sports players in the United States are male. The median age is 37.7, although half of all fantasy sports enthusiasts fall into the 18-34 age bracket. Approximately 19% of all adult Americans indulge in some form of fantasy sport, with the same percentage regularly betting on sports. This represents a huge increase in popularity for fantasy sports over the past few years – figures from 2013 showed just 13% of adults participating in fantasy sports. Many people who choose to play fantasy sports participate in several events each year across multiple disciplines. 79% play fantasy NFL, 39% fantasy baseball, 19% fantasy NBA, 18% fantasy NHL, 14% fantasy soccer and 13% fantasy golf. A further 13% of people choose to play fantasy eSports.
The Difference Between Esports and Fantasy Football
The key difference between eSports and fantasy football is that the first involves engaging in games set in entirely fictional universes and relies on the skill of the players. The second is based on real-life sporting events, so while the teams of each competitor are in some way fictional, the individual players are very much real, and the outcome of the game depends on how those individual players perform.
There is a real skill element to fantasy football, which comes with choosing the right players in the line-up each week based on study of past performance, likelihood of winning that week’s game and numerous other factors. In eSports, many of the players are professional and have been honing their skills and knowledge of specific games for months or years before participating in an event.
Finding a Fantasy Football League
Many people who choose to play fantasy football do so within small groups of friends, family or colleagues, with each participant paying a small entry fee and the entry fees being pooled together to act as a prize for the winner. However, for more serious players, there are multiple leagues that can be accessed online, some of which attract thousands of players each season and therefore offer huge prizes to the leading competitors at the end of the season. The NFL Fantasy Perfect Challenge offers the biggest prize at a cool $1 million, while the Fantasy Football World Championships and the Fantasy Championship offer top prizes of $150,000 and $200,000 respectively.
There are also myriad websites hosting fantasy football leagues. Some of these offer cash prizes that are certainly worth putting in the effort to win. Others offer free play, which gives newcomers to the game the opportunity to learn the rules and hone their skills without having to sacrifice any cash. Even some of the free play games offer small cash prizes. Top sites include NFL.com, ESPN and Yahoo!.
The popularity of fantasy football has reached a point where even real-life NFL players want to get in on the action. There is nothing to prevent NFL players from entering a fantasy league, although there are restrictions on how much money they can accept in prizes. Currently, NFL personal are allowed to join fantasy football leagues, as they are not seen as wagering on the outcome of events, but they are not allowed to accept prizes in excess of $250 should they win. This applies not only to players, but to all NFL personal, including coaches, managers, executives and anyone else employed by the NFL.
Gateway to the NFL
The rise of fantasy football has led to a parallel increase in interest in the real-life NFL. Those who may already have followed football but only watched games played by their own team become more interested in other games featuring players in their fantasy team, while some people are drawn to the skill element of the fantasy game, which moves them to learn more about the real game. Players who have a fantasy team to select are more likely to be engaged in the outcome of games across the entire NFL. Fantasy football creates a new perspective on the game that attracts people who may otherwise have continued to ignore the actual sport. By creating a fantasy team, players gain a personal interest in what is happening across the sport based on their love of gaming, which can result in a love of football.
The fact that it is never a game of pure chance, but requires research, knowledge and skills broadens the appeal and more people from all walks of life are being drawn into the billion-dollar industry each season than ever before.