Fantasy football is an American tradition. It’s been ingrained in the sporting culture for decades and, in fact, is now something of a global phenomenon. What makes the rise of fantasy football all the more impressive is the fact it stemmed from such humble beginnings.
What started out as a bit of fun between a small group of industry insiders during the early 1960s steadily grew over the following decades and spread across the entire US. However, it wasn’t until 1997 that it exploded in popularity.
That was the year CBS launched the first-ever online platform for fantasy football, allowing people to log in to a website to play. Yahoo shortly took this a step further by offering the world’s first free online fantasy football website.
This changed the landscape of fantasy football forever. Previously, players would have to monitor their progress entirely themselves, manually adding up the points they won each week and ultimately sinking a lot more time into maintaining a fantasy team.
With these new online offerings, scores were updated automatically, and players could easily check in on rankings and updates and make changes to their roster more regularly. Not only did this make fantasy football more engaging, but it also opened up to a wider audience who did not have the time to be involved previously.
The growth of the internet also birthed new waves of information and analysis for fantasy football, with entire websites dedicated to advising fantasy managers on the best picks to make and predicting which players would shine in certain games and seasons.
It also became much easier to access statistics and hard data about how players and teams were performing. Fantasy managers no longer needed to rely on match reports or their own eyes; they now had empirical evidence to use for their tactics and strategies.
This element of fantasy football – data and analysis – remains one of the most popular aspects today. There are countless ways people can delve into the statistics and real-time updates of the NFL.
Major tech companies like Adobe have even developed AI programs to help fantasy football players make decisions. Similarly, many websites and companies have developed things like Draft wizards, which analyze all available data on every player in the NFL and give you tailored recommendations on who to pick on your fantasy Draft day.
Not only does this make things easier for players, but it also makes fantasy football more accessible for those who don’t follow the NFL as closely but still want to get involved. They don’t need to do as much independent research because there is technology that can help do it for them.
NFL fantasy is, of course, offered up by many different outlets and brands, each of which provides unique mechanisms. Take DraftKings, for example; they have various different fantasy competitions, each of which can offer cash prizes.
There are season-long competitions wherein the fantasy team with the most points at the end of the season wins. Here, you draft your players at the start of the season, and then, each week, DraftKings automatically fills your starting lineup with your top-scoring players.
This removes the need for constant monitoring and the risk of missing out on points if you field the wrong players.
Alternatively, there are daily competitions, in which you pick a team of players and then rack up points based on the games played that day.
Fantasy football has also been revolutionized by the transition to mobile gaming and the widespread usage of smartphones and other devices. Fantasy players can now monitor their team on the go; they don’t need to be sitting at their computer at home.
Providers like DraftKings and the NFL itself have mobile apps that people can download to easily play fantasy football with the click of a button. Aside from the move to online gaming, mobile technology’s development is one of the most impactful factors in the evolution of fantasy football.
Not only does this new technology allow people to play fantasy football from pretty much anywhere, but they can also watch NFL games live from these devices. The NFL has embraced the digital age and fans can more easily follow the action, even when they’re not at home.
Couple with this is the rise of social media and the technology that comes with it. Fantasy football players can engage with each other across the globe and share their thoughts online, through their phones.
They can even interact with prominent figures in the football world, be they journalists or even coaches and players.
This adds to the sense of competition and community amongst fantasy players as they can share their passion with one another in a more convenient and engaging way.
Over the years, fantasy football has shown a demonstrable ability to adapt to the times and continue to improve as new technologies emerge. Even now, more and more features are constantly added to fantasy football platforms, making the game more enjoyable and accessible than ever.