Fantasy Football fans: stay-at-home athletes

By%3A+Asa+Lory

By: Asa Lory

Jacqueline LeBlanc

Is fantasy ever as good as the real thing? Photo by Asa Lory
Is fantasy ever as good as the real thing? Photo by Asa Lory

Sunday mornings are more than brunch and the thought of a day of relaxation for junior Arris Pardalous. Sunday also brings along another ritual — fantasy football.

Beginning his routine typically on Friday nights after the RBHS football games, Pardalos organizes his teams and checks the stats for Sunday’s game.

“I look at what players are available and which ones have bye weeks,” Pardalos said. “I also trade players and talk trash [and Sundays], just watch a game or two and hope my team does well.”

Every September since 1997, when football season rolls around, fantasy football fans craft and coach their version of the perfect team consisting of various NFL players. Using several sites, a computer can generate a random draft order in which participants will choose players.  After drafting players and building a team, players face-off against opponents in their league and score points based on their drafted NFL players’ real-time performance and statistics for that day. After 10 weeks, based on the success of a fan’s team, the champion in a league may win money, a trophy, prizes or simply honor.

Although fantasy football may have been created as an accessory hobby to watching an NFL game, the popularity of the sport has caused many to view football games differently.  According to CBS Sports, 27 million people played fantasy football in the U.S. and Canada combined in 2009. Fantasy players also spend roughly $110 on the hobby and spend on average nine hours to rearrange their roster throughout the season.

U.S. Studies teacher Austin Reed has played fantasy football for 10 years and is currently participating in five different leagues. One consists of various teachers from RBHS, which he paid a $20 fee to be involved in and has a cash prize for the winner at the end of the season.  To set him up for the best results possible, Reed spends much time preparing for his fantasy season.

“I do quite a bit of studying [for the draft]. I don’t buy the magazines, but I read about it online,” Reed said.  “I just love looking at stats, and I love sports, so studying all that stuff is just fun for me.”

With the popularity of fantasy football continuing to rise, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimated that the number of participants involved in fantasy football leagues has grown by an additional 10 million people in the past year.

Pardalos decided to explore the concept of fantasy football for the first time this year, despite watching the sport since the age of four.
Pardalos said he jumped into his fantasy football draft without really knowing how the concept worked, choosing players such as Cam Newton, Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson and the San Francisco 49ers’ defense for his team.  However, so far his players have fallen short for Pardalos, leaving him with a 1-5 record to begin his season.

“I knew they were good and good players get a lot of points in fantasy football,” Pardalos said.  “In a sense I really just winged it, because I know who is good in the NFL because they’re the popular players. I would have picked better offensive players before defensive players.”

Nevertheless, many people across the nation enjoy the fantasy. Reed believes that playing fantasy football has introduced him to a more interesting aspect of watching football.

“I think Americans just like to associate with something that is bigger than ourselves, so it’s fun to track a player and root for them,” Reed said. “And it also makes an NFL game a little more intense because not only are you rooting for a team but you can  watch a specific player … and I feel that it really ramps up the intensity of Sundays and watching football on Sundays.”

By Jacqueline LeBlanc