By Stephen Dixon, Staff Writer
This form of football is not played on the gridiron. It is played on smart phones, laptops and tablets. Users wake up on Sunday mornings and the first thing they do is check their lineups. Then they let their players take the field while they sit on the couch in anticipation.
This is called fantasy football and it has taken the pro-football fandom to a new level by making a very popular sport even more interactive.
Fantasy football is an online virtual game that allows users to assemble and manage teams made up of NFL players. Each season begins with a draft, usually hosted online, where users select players based on projections for on-field statistical performance. Players can be selected from different teams. The only things that count in fantasy are what positions they play and how many points they score for the user. The users with the most points in a given matchup win their rounds.
“I makes the fan connected with the game,” said Furman senior Kolby Merryman. “It is your player on your team. Last year for the draft, we gathered together in my apartment and had a good time.”
Users typically play with their friends in the same league. In many cases, trash talking is prevalent but fantasy football is also an activity that brings friends together in an environment where they compete. It also spikes interest in football for people that were not invested before.
Some users know next to nothing about the NFL or football but that does not stop them from playing in this virtual game. Fantasy football acts as a teacher for those who are not familiar with the NFL.
“I knew very little before I started playing [fantasy football],” said Furman senior and new fantasy participant Christie Hoff. “I don’t think that I have learned new information but I can at least match names of key players to the game.”
Like March Madness, many people become invested in the sport. It is not because they care about the match ups on the court or on the field. They care about how their own virtual team is faring against their friends’ or coworkers’ brackets or fantasy lineups.
“I will be watching anywhere between two to five games at a time, watching all my players at any given time,” said Furman senior and sports talk show host Pearson Fowler. “On the one hand, it is great, but on the other hand it ruins football. I can hardly just enjoy a game without thinking about the implications of my fantasy league. It sort of bastardizes watching football. Like so many other things nowadays, it just end up being about me.”