So we just wrapped up our 3rd week of the fantasy football season. How are things going? The despair of Ryan Grant owners is likely overshadowed by the joy of Arian Foster owners.
So I figured since we’re shifting into first gear in football, shifting into park in baseball, revving up the engine for hockey, and shopping for the right vehicle in basketball, let’s talk to someone who has intimate knowledge of the history of fantasy sports.
I interviewed Mike Beacom nearly two weeks ago in order to get a better gauge on the history and landscape of fantasy sports. There may be no better source for this information because of his deep-rooted connection to fantasy sports, appreciation for the sports world in general and his many connections to the pioneers of the industry. Plus, he’s a journalist as well, and he was very gracious in lending me some of his limited free time.
A little history on Mr. Beacom:
- a freelance NFL and college football writer, having been published in Pro Football Weekly, SI.com, AthlonSports.com, Lindy’s Sports, Inside Wisconsin Sports among others
- Associate lecturer at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point
- had two books published (Ohio State University Football: Yesterday & Today and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Football) and is working on a third, Wisconsin Badgers: Game of My Life.
- the president and chairman of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association
Here’s some info from the interview:
Beacom said he’s always been into the outdoors and, therefore, always been into sports. He got into fantasy sports in 1991. At the time, “there was a buzz” around the fantasy sports world and he started a league in high school with four friends. The league still exists today. As is true with most, he started in fantasy football but evolved into other sports.
According to Beacom, a good fantasy sports manager is “somebody who puts in the work, relies on multiple sources, and stays active.” Beacom said he consults a multitude of sources for his fantasy teams, despite the fact that he has intimate knowledge of the sports world.
In regards to the FSWA, Beacom gave a brief history. It started in 2004 by several fantasy trailblazers such as Scott Engel and Ryan Houston. In 2008, they needed a chairman and Beacom said that he inquired and got the position. More members joined and more partnerships grew. They have an annual awards ceremony where fantasy writers and real players receive awards. All sports are acknowledged in the ceremony. In the most recent awards ceremony, Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans was awarded the Fantasy Player of the Year and Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings won the Fantasy Rookie of the Year.
The FSWA Hall of Fame was introduced this past year, but the idea has been there for some time, according to Beacom. The early plans were not quite right so the FSWA refined them over the past several years and the current system was put into place. There are 20 voters among the roughly 400 members of the FSWA. In the inaugural class, there were 14 finalists (chosen among those with at least 10 years of experience in the field) with five chosen winners: Greg Ambrosius, Matthew Berry, Scott Engel, Eric Karabell and Greg Kellogg. Beacom sees the FSWA growing and expanding its horizons in the future.
I asked him how fantasy sports has affected real sports:
It has affected it “in ways positive and negative,” he said. “It made the Green Bay Packer fan a fan of all the NFL.” While on one hand fans are more knowledgeable about sports, he said, they also care more about numbers nowadays. Fans “are as invested in their [fantasy] teams as their home state teams.”
He did touch on the value of fantasy sports for the novice sports fan, something of which he is well-aware of after writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Football. It’s great for people who want to get involved, he said, calling it “a training ground” to understanding the sport and the players. “Football is something to share” and fantasy sports give friends and family something to compete over and discuss. Beacom said that he sees the involvement of amateur players, notably women, growing in the future.
For more information and access to recent articles from Mike Beacom, visit www.mikebeacom.com.