The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

All The Same Faith

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When it first entered the mainstream sports fray in the early 90s, the NFL and its corporate partners balked at fantasy, viewing it as a marginal subculture of stat heads -- much as they refused to recognize the Internet as anything more than another media trend. Now, these same entities; major networks and sponsors alike, tailor their broadcasts to the ravenous fantasy fan, sports publications devote entire sections to the hobby. Major brands are now crafting fantasy-specific campaigns attempting to capture what is amongst the most coveted demographics in advertising.

In time, the robust numbers that the hobby emitted compelled the "bigs" to recognize and respect the potential of the pursuit. I figured it was appropriate to include some nerdy statistics when discussing such a uniquely nerdy statistical hobby: consider the market research the Fantasy Sports Trade Association compiled about the ever-growing subculture of fantasy sports.

• 22% of U.S. adult males 18 to 49 years old, with Internet access, play fantasy sports.
• 58% of fantasy sport players report watching more sports on television since they started playing fantasy sports.
• Fantasy sports players buy tickets and spend money at stadiums at a much higher rate than general sports fans: 9% of "general" football fans attended an NFL football game while 60% of fantasy players attend.
• 27.1 million Americans (12+) or 6% of the population currently plays one or more fantasy sports (2007-2008). The fantasy fan spends an average of $467.60 per year playing fantasy sports.

The retention and growth of the hobby has seen traditionalists claim that fantasy fandom has hurt the sport, arguing that the game's intrinsic values have been diluted by a devotion to statistics over efforts. Some seem to feel that attention paid to a fantasy team precludes valid loyalty to a real team. Numbers alone tell us that interest in the NFL, as a whole is significantly larger than the fantasy partition. But in reality, the estimated 125 million NFL fans and the nearly 30 million fantasy players are not mutually exclusive. There is no coup in the works. Fantasy football fans are merely a devoted sect of a larger religion, with no threat of overtaking interest in the league itself.

Fantasy, much like the betting line, is an offshoot of the game that has inspired rabid interest in the sport. Unlike the spread, however, fantasy has been invited in the front door by the NFL and its strategic cohorts.

By Jim McCormick  |  September 7, 2009; 1:27 PM ET  | Category:  Fans , Fantasy Football Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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