I have given in to an addiction that many sports fans have in North America. As I sit in
front of my computer writing this, I have a Toronto Raptors game on my TV, an Oklahoma
City Thunder game on my computer minimized in the bottom right corner and a live stats feed of the Edmonton Oilers game on my phone.
Fantasy sports have taken over my life.
I love sports but have very eclectic tastes. I have other hobbies. I play video games, I read, I write and I also eat, a lot. Throughout my 25 years, I’ve watched a lot of sports and I’ve kept up with them on my phone or through highlights. I never thought I would become so heavily drawn to the stats of a player in my life. I sit in class studying players through league websites and that entices me to watch more live games. Instead of checking my Facebook or Instagram constantly, I check my fantasy matchup to see if my players are performing well during games.
By the end of the NBA and NHL seasons, I will have spent more time checking my stats than I have watching Wild Wild West with Will Smith (an underrated movie). A lot of diehards dislike this influx of fans through fantasy sports, because they fell in love with sports without this element. To that I say: suck it up peeps, fantasy sports are growing.
There has been a huge growth in fantasy sports over the years and now it’s at an all-time high. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association in 2015, there are others that have the same sports bug as me. More than 56 million people played fantasy sports that year, a significant jump from 2014 when there were 41 million. This year, 59.3 million people are playing fantasy sports in the USA and Canada. Teens comprise 34 per cent and 21 per cent in the USA and Canada respectively. Sixty six per cent of players are male and 34 per cent are female. The average fantasy player spends $556 a year on their leagues. I spent $40; that’s a lot of Ramen for the average student. With other sources of putting money on the line for sports teams such as Pro-Line and Draft kings, that number makes sense. I’m personally going to stay away from that until I’m making the big bucks (hopefully).
Loyalty is big amongst fans. Most sports fans will stick to their home team or a single team that they’ve been keen on since they were young.
Fantasy sports take you out of that element. You may follow a new team or player through the fantasy leagues. This may change weekly as you find different players producing better than others. My favourite sport to follow is the NBA. I am discovering the ongoing stellar productions of names like Jeremy Lamb, Bojan Bogdanvic and Spencer Dinwiddle. This is because of my lack of a backup point guard, not because I really like their last names, which some casual fans might enjoy. Yet I am following them like a fricken hawk. Daily. As a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, I used to keep a blind eye to other teams outside of the NBA Brass and my team. Now I have new knowledge that will help me turn that $40 I drove into my NBA fantasy into $400 … hopefully. Fantasy leagues can enhance your knowledge of a sport that you already enjoy.
Another great thing about fantasy leagues is they provide a way to connect with friends. I am currently in an NHL league that helps me keep in touch with friends spread out through the country.
I don’t plan to drop $556 on fantasy sports anytime soon. However, fantasy leagues continue to grow as they bring in new, old and current fans. The camaraderie and competition help me develop both as a sports fan and as a sports editor. I still think I have an addiction but it’s not a problem. My problem is that I love Wild Wild West too much.
– Tre Lopushinsky