The fall means a lot of things for many students at Latin. It means the start of the school year, and for avid sports fans like myself, it also means the start of football season, and almost as important, fantasy football season. Because Latin does not have a football team, students have to find their football fix elsewhere. College football games are on all day Saturday, and NFL games are on all day Sunday. For casual fans, this means paying attention to your alma maters or local pro teams, but for those under the influence of the football craze, the football season is known for its capacity to consume your entire weekend (or for some fantasy football players, the entire NFL season). For me, football is mostly a Saturday activity, since, as some of you know, I am a huge Michigan fan and can never get enough college football.
In my opinion, college football is easily more entertaining than the NFL. The energy and excitement are unmatched, the fans are more engaged with the team, and the players are playing for school pride. Most of all, every game of the regular season matters, because one loss knocks almost any team (besides Alabama – nice work, ESPN boosters), out of contention for a National Championship. The same cannot be said for the NFL because pro football has one special factor that college football doesn’t: fantasy football.
Fantasy football is a national craze. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (http://fsta.org), 34% of teens in the United States play online fantasy sports. But it’s not just teens that play: the average age of people playing fantasy sports is 38.6 years old. On top of that, in a 2013 article published by Forbes, an economics professor at WKU estimated that Fantasy Football is a $70 Billion dollar industry. ESPN has fantasy football-specific analysts, and several different nationally recognized websites like ESPN, Yahoo, and DraftKings release articles on fantasy football every day.
Until Bears football turns around (this weekend’s overtime win against the Steelers offers hope), fantasy football is a great reason for Chicagoans to follow the NFL. Sophomore Jack Hallinan, an avid Clemson and college football fan, explained that “I wouldn’t care about the NFL if not for my fantasy football team. Due to my dedication to my fantasy team, I pay attention to the NFL for every day of the season. As the season progresses, I become more and more hopeless in my team and the Bears.”
The same can be said for people who are fans of other NFL teams. Personally, I am a New York Giants fan. Last year, I paid added attention to the NFL because the Giants went 11-5 and made the playoffs but I still would not have cared much about pro football overall if not for fantasy.
Other students at Latin, like sophomores Robert Lynch and Ben Mitchell, as well as freshman Matthew Shrake, are enveloped by the fantasy phenomenon. Matthew summed up the appeal well when he said, “I love fantasy football because it is a way to interact with friends while having fun. Also, football is a great sport to watch and it’s fun to follow your players and cheer for them.” During any given free period, you can find students in one of Latin’s lounge areas checking their teams, making trades, and arguing about the quality of players and teams. For Robert, a Bears fan, “fantasy football makes the NFL more fun, but it’s conflicting when your fantasy players are playing your favorite teams because you want your favorite team to win but you also want your fantasy team to score as many points as possible.”
The fantasy football craze has consumed many fans’ Sundays with NFL action, and that is just as true for students at Latin as it is for students at many high schools across the country. Ben, who describes himself as a professional commissioner of fantasy football, says he “enjoys fantasy football because on Sundays … I get to stay home alone, and scream at the TV.” If fantasy football sounds like fun to you, but you haven’t joined in this season, don’t worry, there’s always next year.]]>