Bzzzt! My phone buzzes, letting me know there’s something new to check. A text from a friend, maybe? Or an assignment I forgot to turn in? Nope. Adrian Peterson has just scored a touchdown, and secured a win for my fantasy football team.
For those who have not yet jumped on the fantasy bandwagon, here is the basic idea: you put together a team of active players in whatever sport you like, and their performances in games either daily or weekly are allotted points. The more points they get, the better your team does. There are many different types of fantasy, depending on what platform you play on, what sport you play, and so on, but this idea is at the heart of every one.
In the past few years, the number of people playing fantasy sports has skyrocketed. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), around 12.5 million people in the United States played fantasy sports in 2005. Ten years later, that number has jumped to nearly 57 million.
Why? Why is an industry that was barely on the public radar a decade ago now so massive that it would be hard to find a sports fan that doesn’t play?
“I think sports media…[has] made fantasy sports, especially football, huge,” math teacher and avid fantasy footballer Sara Dorset said.
As for me, I think it comes down to a few things. First, sports information and fantasy sports companies have been constantly improving their technology over time. Putting together a lineup would have taken a computer and some time ten years ago, but it can now be done with a few taps on a phone screen. Fantasy websites and apps are running smoother than ever before.
But on a more global level, I think this comes down to our increasing unwillingness to focus on something for a long period of time. In today’s age of smartphones, unlimited internet access and six-second videos, we have become a generation of instant gratification, with emphasis on the “instant.” Fantasy sports play off of that. They offer us a connection to the games we love, without having to spend too much time watching the games we “love.” If you can check your lineup to see how the stars of each team are performing, why watch the games anyway?
Bzzzt! Oh look, Adrian Peterson scored again. I better go check my lineup. I’ll be right back.