OPINION: Fantasy football: the good, the bad and the future

The NFL and NCAA football are back and that means that fantasy football and sports betting return in full effect. Millions of people around the country treat this as a religion, and every Saturday and Sunday they put their money down and set their lineups in fantasy with hopes to win big.

Over 50% of people that participate in these rituals are high school and college students that are between the ages of 18-34.

Football has always been a way of connecting people from many different backgrounds regardless of social status, ethnicity or culture. Fantasy football in the U.S. only strengthens these bonds and it allows people an escape from reality at least one day a week. 

This is a major change in pace for college students who may deal with balancing jobs, school, sports and all the other draining tasks in their lives. This escape and new way of socializing are what make fantasy football among younger people such a phenomenon, and that's also what makes it a huge part of modern American culture. 

However, fantasy football isn’t all positive. There are some drawbacks that can be destructive to the person participating. 

Fantasy sports is a form of gambling and it's not uncommon for addictive behavior to develop. In some cases, it can turn into a serious problem. While the average person spends $131 a year on fantasy sports-related costs, a large proportion of people – including myself – spend well over that number early into the season. With about 75 million people playing every year, that is an insane amount of revenue generated for companies such as ESPN and Yahoo. 

There are other things such as competitiveness and bad sportsmanship that can ruin the fun for others but they aren’t nearly as destructive as a gambling addiction. 

 

Despite the negativity associated with fantasy football, the positives still come out way on top, especially for students. In a 2014 study, the NCAA conducted a study that found over 70% of NCAA athletes participate in fantasy sports despite it being banned. Despite the punishment that the student athletes could face due to gambling, they still participate because of the joy and heartbreak that it brings. 

Fantasy football also adds another layer of competition for all people who participate. It can evoke emotions of happiness from beating your best friend one week and sadness the next from losing to your younger brother. 

There is nothing quite like the community that has been created from fantasy football. If you’re looking for your next hobby or just want to meet new people with the same interest, the positives of playing outweigh any negatives. 

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