Sports fanatics fulfilling online fantasy

Playing fantasy football isn’t just a hobby, it’s an obsession.

The game was created by Wilfred Wilkenbach in a Manhattan hotel in 1962 with the assistance of four other men. Since then, fantasy football has become ferociously popular, occupying the lives and free time of sports fans across the country.

For those not in the know, fans who play fantasy football are called “owners”. They draft real-life NFL football players and earn points based on how well those players perform in actual games. The point system can vary depending on what type of league the owner participates in, as there are several.

“What I like about fantasy football is that it makes me care about games that I wouldn’t normally care about,” senior Matt Bailey said. “My viewership of other games has increased and it has made me a well-rounded football fan.”

Evan Pickering, a business finance major, has been playing since he was in the third grade. His parents taught him how to tally points for each field goal and touchdown that was scored.

“I remember I would come home on Tuesday nights and read the scores in the newspaper,” Pickering said.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, an estimated 30 million people compete in fantasy football and the numbers are projected to keep rising.

Sophomore Kevin Taing is a recent newcomer to the game. At the urging of his cousin, he joined a league. Taing, a regular competitor in NBA fantasy basketball, quickly found out how different the two games were.

“In fantasy basketball you choose your players every day. I didn’t know you couldn’t do that in fantasy football so I lost a lot of points,” he said.

There’s more to drafting a team than just picking the best players. Draft day techniques and strategies are well thought out and carefully orchestrated.

Senior Jonathan Gilkeson typically drafts players he thinks will score the most points.

“I don’t pick my kickers until the last day because they’re not going to score very many points,” Gilkeson said. “I might change them week to week like I do my defense.”

Bailey has a different strategy. He sees what kind of situation different players face on their respective teams and drafts according to that.

“Even though a player isn’t the best in his position, he might have a team that utilizes him often,” Bailey said. “It’s worked out pretty well for me.”

Patrick Demoe joined a league four years ago. He is one of 40 people who each put in $40 that will be awarded to the winner at the end of the season.

“It’s fun. We get to pretend we are big shots without spending a lot of money,” Demoe said. “$40 a year isn’t bad especially if you win,” he said.

As a fantasy football owner, it can be conflicting for football fans to choose who they root for, particularly when the participant has a fantasy player on an opposing team.

“I’m still a diehard 49ers fan. I want a certain guy to do well but not necessarily win,” Demoe said.

A few may play for the competition, some play for money and others for the camaraderie. But when it really comes down to it, many are playing for those hard earned bragging rights.

“As long as my friends keep playing, I’ll keep playing,” Gilkeson said. “I like talking crap to my friends and it’s something to do on a Sunday.”

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