[OVERTIME] Changing the narrative of fantasy sports

Fantasy sports are a cultural phenomenon in popular culture whenever a marketable professional sport is in season. Come time for the months of the year devoted to NFL, NBA, or even MLB teams, high school students are some of the first to join and own a fantasy sports team with their friends and family. It’s enjoyable; being a part of a league alongside the people you care about in the comfortable sporting environment while learning more about athletic icons seems like a great way to spend free time during each portion of the calendar year. The truth of the matter is, though, that fantasy sports are coming to dominate the lives of students. Specifically, they are actively taking away from doing real physical activity, specifically on an actual sports team, and giving fans a value-based framework to judging athletes of a particular game. As students at SPA pore over possible lineups for their fantasy teams on a weekly, or even daily basis, they lose the opportunity to forge real relationships with their friends on a team that offers more than virtual satisfaction or an end-of-season payout. So, the question is, how do we change this narrative?

First, students must come to terms with the fact that fantasy sports are only healthy if they don’t take over their lives. In small doses, managing a team can be fun, but time devoted towards actually staying active, either on an athletic team or independently, is what truly forges genuine relationships that last long past the end of a professional sporting season. Teammates can become core members of athletes lives, but in fantasy sports, there are no teammates, just opponents.

Moreover, viewing sports through the lens of a fantasy manager and not in an organic, sports-fandom sense. As argued by Bryn Swartz of Bleacher Report, fantasy football twists the mind of a fan towards more a analytically and value-based state. Instead of cheering for professional athletes for their accomplishments and effort, fantasy football players instead assign a value to them based on their fantasy projections, devaluing them in the process. For students, this can bleed into their peers’ sporting events, as they begin to see their classmates through the same fantasy-based framework while watching them compete, even if they aren’t a part of a professional team.

At the end of the day, student fantasy sports managers should be cognizant about how their experience is affecting their lives, whether it be in the form of decreased physical activity or twisted value-based fandom. Fantasy teams are meant to be fun, but that fun can be unhealthy if tapped into in an obsessive way. The next time you are faced with a chance to join a league, maybe think twice; the repercussions may present you with positive improvements to your life.