But I did it “my way.”
My fantasy football season hit an uninvited halt last week as I was unceremoniously booted from my two fantasy semifinals matchups. Still, all is well in my mind.
As every fantasy season reaches its conclusion, whether I have some extra cash in my bank account or I’m wondering what went wrong, there is a sense of relief. Next week, Week 16 of the 2010 NFL season, I can watch the games out of pure satisfaction. I don’t have to follow every player or track every touchdown. Just kind of keep an eye on my team and its rivals. It should make for a pretty easygoing Sunday.
Are fantasy sports too strenuous? I know it sounds ridiculous, but perhaps that is one of the problems. This past week, as I was watching all the games to follow my fantasy team, my wife was overwhelmed. While it’s become second-nature for me to keep track of my fantasy players, for a “newbie” like my wife, she just can’t keep track. And it almost takes too much energy. Whereas just following one team and one score is pretty simple, following 10 players from your team and 10 players from your opponent’s team, not to mention multiple leagues, is exhausting.
So, yes, I’m relieved (as is my wife). Next week I’ll recap my playoff decision-making and whether or not I’m the Indianapolis Colts of fantasy sports.
What would you do for pride? And what is pride if you manipulate the system?
This NFL season, I am participating in two fantasy leagues, one for money and one for free. I am so stupidly fanatic that I remain fairly active in both leagues. Unfortunately, as would be expected, many who play in free leagues lose their motivation as the season progresses. So by Week 12, which we are approaching, only four or five managers are still paying attention to their teams.
Josh, a manager in my free ESPN league, is not one who has lost his motivation. In fact, he is so motivated that he is ostensibly cheating to win the league. Convinced that his team is far inferior to mine (I’m currently in first place with a record of 9-2), Josh made a trade with another manager, John, presumably his brother, that is blatantly uneven.
I’m not here to wage a war on Josh and John (of the same last name) but rather to express my curiosity over a manager that cheats to win a free league. In the ESPN free leagues, there are really no prizes for winning a league. The only true prize is pride. Along with that, the winning manager is invited to play in a Winner’s League the following season.
So why cheat? The answer goes back to the very origins of this blog. I’ve argued since the beginning of my research that I don’t think people play fantasy sports for the money. Sure, I’ve discussed the massive monetary totals that are spent on fantasy sports, but that’s a byproduct. People play for pride. Brothers try to outsmart each other. Women try to prove their sports smarts over their man. Friends establish their dominance over one another. They play for PRIDE!
But again, how proud can you be if you cheat to get there? Josh declined to comment.
Other than the NFL, major sports were very slow to welcome fantasy sports. Commissioner Bud Selig hesitated to align his sport with any method of gambling; thus, it wasn’t until 2004, nearly 25 years after the concept for fantasy baseball was created, that Major League Baseball’s official website offered fantasy baseball. NBA.com and NHL.com shortly followed suit.
The trepidation by the league commissioners seems logical. On one hand, they were worried that their sports would turn into gambling arenas, much like horse racing. The violent 2007 NBA All-Star Game contributed to these fears. Las Vegas does not own a professional sports team for one reason: fear of gambling corruption. The commissioners also worried about potential athlete involvement. Could fantasy sports invite professional athletes into another Black Sox Scandal? These potential pitfalls were nullified by one overriding force: money.
The NFL recognized the potential revenue that fantasy sports would bring to the league. Not only would fans watch complete games (including blowouts) in order to follow his/her fantasy player, they would be willing to watch all of the games instead of just the one. Fans expanded their interest beyond one hometown team. NFL officials could only imagine the advertising opportunities. So, the NFL indirectly partnered up with fantasy sports. On television, NFL games began scrolling updated players statistics across the screen of live games. Even the professionals started playing. Ultimately, the league linked fantasy football to NFL.com.
It is hard to lose sight of the enormous effect fantasy sports has had on their professional counterparts. At their core, fantasy sports give novice fans a chance to learn about the sport. According to Mike Beacom, president and chairman of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, fantasy sports induced more knowledge in the average fan and, more importantly, “made the Green Bay Packer fan a fan of all the NFL.” With Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League all witnessing the positive monetary effect of fantasy sports, they expanded the idea, seeking creative alternatives to classic fantasy leagues. MLB.com introduced Beat the Streak and MLB.com Survivor. Likewise, NBA.com established Stock Exchange and Pick One Challenge, all various alternatives to the traditional fantasy games.
All of this was made possible by a 2006 federal law that exempted fantasy sports from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, according to Mitchell Stein of Sport Litigation Alert. While Congress made it illegal to use a credit card to bet on sports, fantasy sports was considered “a game of chance,” and therefore legal. This controversial decision is still an ongoing argument.
“The problem is that fantasy sports still may qualify as illegal gambling under state laws and a host of other federal laws, none of which are affected by the 2006 Act,” Stein said.
With states debating the ethics and legalities of fantasy sports, the real/fantasy sport relationship may not be everlasting. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see the commissioners capitalizing on its popularity now.