The night air was uncomfortably warm as my muggy, uncirculated garage accompanied my bogged down selections.
It was once again National Football League fantasy draft night.
For the low cost of $20 a season, I am able to talk all the smack I want while desperately trying to back up my bold statements.
Fantasy football originated as a very niche entity until the internet’s coming of age.
In a now multi-billion dollar industry that encompasses over 33 million active participants, fantasy football is bigger than ever.
Fantasy sports has long existed with devout fans rummaging through their local paper’s sports section jotting stats down by hand.
Over the years, the industry has immensely changed the culture of sports, driving the focus away from the team and rather towards individual athletes.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the average fantasy player allocates nearly three hours to managing their teams but spends roughly nine hours reading about or watching sports.
Picking your squad is the most control fantasy competitors will ever have over the sport.
After the draft, a team owner can trade an athlete or two, bench one for another and pick one up off the scrap heap of undrafted players, but the team’s core remains the same.
The average fantasy sports player spends around $467 per year according to the trade association, contributing to a $15.7 billion market.
Over the last few years, ESPN has gone as far as devoting entire segments on the analysis of player statistics to boost fantasy performances. Dozens of sites including Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports and Draft Kings have also dedicated time to covering the fantasy side of sports.
The NFL Network, the league’s TV station, has a segment called “NFL Fantasy Live” that runs for an hour every weekday of the season.
In addition to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there’s also a Fantasy Sports Writers Association, both of which include their own halls of fame.
Fantasy sports has unified more people in an unintended way than first intended. It gives friends an extra opportunity to call their buddies and nearly every league has its own chat room to communicate in.
While some sports fans feel fantasy sports takes away from rooting for the home team, it also opens up horizons to more knowledge of other teams and players.
For example, I could tell you the Denver Broncos’ starting slot receivers just from picking a few of them up on in my latest fantasy draft.
At the end of the day, a losing season equates to spending a year wallowing in your failure at the constant reminder of your league mates. Win, and you hold bragging rights (better than cash) that comes with victory.
‘Til next season.