How Fantasy Football is Ruining Football

Participation in fantasy football has skyrocketed over the past decade. Once a game played using paper, a statistician, and score results in the mail, the game has evolved into an online version with millions of participants. Fantasy football has changed the casual football fan’s vision of the game. While in the past a casual fan may simply watch his hometown team, participation in fantasy has caused these types of fans to pay attention to multiple games. With increased interest in the games comes growth for the sport. Fantasy football has grown so much that FX even created a television series based around the game called The League. In addition, every Sunday ESPN airs a show focused just on fantasy football.
While the game may draw friends together and lead to competitive fun, are people now caring about the sport for the wrong reasons? Last season the number one fantasy running back was the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster. Foster, a little known player at the beginning of the year, led many lucky fantasy owners to the tops of their leagues. In anticipation of another stellar year, many fantasy owners drafted Foster early in the first round. In the preseason Foster left a game early with a hamstring injury. Following the game, Twitter and Facebook were swarmed with people’s concerns about Foster’s health. While some loyal Texans’ fans cared about his health for him and the team, a majority of fans simply cared about their fantasy teams. After countless tweets and fantasy articles about his health, Foster responded on Twitter to those fantasy owners, “4 those sincerely concerned, I’m doing ok & plan 2 B back by opening day. 4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick.” (1) Foster has a point. The fantasy world’s reaction to Foster made him seem like a commodity and asset instead of a human being.
While this aspect may be frustrating to players, another aspect of fantasy football is harmful to fans. Although living in Chicago, I am personally a die-hard Packers’ fan. After Brett Favre left my team for the Minnesota Vikings, I wanted nothing more than to see them lose. It was that same year that I won my fantasy football draft lottery obtaining the first overall pick. The consensus pick at the time was Adrian Peterson. While many people may have told me to simply not pick Peterson, as a competitive player I had to pick the guy who would help me win games. As a result, when the Packers played against the Vikings I found myself rooting for the Packers first and foremost, but also not upset when Peterson scored. Unable to get my fantasy team from my mind, I felt awful about feeling good when Peterson scored a touchdown. This is not the way that football fans should act. Football is a sport based on passion, loyalty, and commitment. Fantasy football has caused fans to lose part of this. As a participant in fantasy football who even wrote his college essay on the subject, I would just like to advise players against getting too involved

One response to “How Fantasy Football is Ruining Football”

  1. Meh. I think this can be annoying, but it’s not “ruining the game.” I think the major problem with fantasy football is it makes fans dumber due to how it makes one value players. Because everything is based on yards and scoring, they cause casual fans to think certain players are more valuable than they actually are, when in fact stats are almost useless in evaluating football players due to how dependent players are on their teammates.

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