A World Wide Fantasy

By: Justin Sharpe

Rapid development of the internet and internet capable devices over the past decade has led to an explosion in the popularity and possibilities of fantasy sports. “The Fantasy Sports Trade Association reports that there are 15.2 million fantasy sports players out of some 90 million active sports consumers in the U.S. alone. That number represents 7.2% of all Americans, according to the FSTA.”

This new popular culture industry now creates revenue for many companies from Yahoo to Electronic Arts, to Sprint Wireless. Everyone seems to be hopping on the wagon and the money isn’t just in advertisement, most companies charge small participation fees or offer add-ons of some sort that also come at a cost to the participant.  In 2003 CBS SportsLine.com generated over $14 million from its fantasy football and baseball subscriptions alone, a 40% increase over 2002.

Despite the fees now involved in most leagues, “the number of fantasy sport players has quadrupled in the last 10 years alone.”  The leader in fantasy sports leaguers is the NFL. “An estimated 15 million adults play fantasy football and spend more than $250 million a year just in gaming services, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.” Some of that expenditure goes toward special services to keep close tabs on sports updates and tips such as at-your-fingertips cellular sports services like those offered by Yahoo for $3.95 a season, while other spending goes toward magazines, newspapers, or any source that can aid players in maintaining often multiple fantasy leagues simultaneously. 

It’s not a waste of time – experienced fantasy leaguers can make good money by participating in or managing multiple fantasy leagues. Chad Erickson, a student here at MSU reported winning over $120 for placing second in a NFL fantasy league of only twelve participants in 2003.  Besides being a source of income, fantasy leagues expand on the entertainment value of sports. Leaguers become more interested in teams, players, and statistics, all while gaining new ways to bond with friends and co-workers. Public leagues also exist that can lead to new friendships or allow leaguers to retain anonymity.

The level of sports entertainment is ever-enhancing on the horizon through fantasy sports. Many popular Television networks such as ESPN, CBS, and Fox are making efforts to incorporate fantasy aspects into their programming, meaning fantasy leaguers can keep up without having to run over to check their computers or cell phones. These additions to TV programming also make it more interactive and more attention grabbing during slower moving sports such as baseball or during downtime for timeouts or injury related breaks.

Besides television, the videogame industry also seeks a part of the fantasy pie. Companies like EA Sports are incorporating fantasy aspects into new games to make games more realistic and more fun. “As part of a reported $1 billion/ four-year licensing deal with Players, Inc., Sports Business Journal says that EA Sports also licensed use of player identities in fantasy leagues so that Madden NFL gamers could use their fantasy league rosters to create teams across both fantasy and video game properties.” On top of that game consoles with internet adaptability will be able to download new players as they enter the leagues which means more realistic, more entertaining gaming for your money.

On top of all this, fantasy sports covers nearly any sport you can imagine and is spreading internationally both for U.S. sports and overseas sports leagues, making it a truly world wide fantasy.
This fantasy means increased opportunities for technical communicators. All the expansion to companies means need for more technical writers to take on new projects. Policies and procedures for leagues must be laid out and the need for documentation and advertisement is evident. Technical communicators keeping their eyes on the industry just might find a way to improve upon some aspect of fantasy sports communication and stumble on a fantasy job.


http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PJQ/is_15_2/ai_n6131158;  Fantasy Sports is Our Undiscovered Game; Electronic Gaming Business,  July 28, 2004

http://cbs.sportsline.com/info/ir/press/2003/ffball1003;  SportsLine.com Fantasy Football Subscription Revenue Grows 36%; FORT LAUDERDALE (October 14, 2003); Copyright © 1995 - 2005 SportsLine.com, Inc.

http://www.jsonline.com/packer/news/aug05/351062.asp; Obsession with online football is no fantasy; by Don Walker dwalker@journalsentinel.com; Posted: Aug. 25, 2005; From the Aug. 26, 2005 editions of the Milwakee Journal Sentinel

http://money.cnn.com/2003/08/29/commentary/column_sportsbiz/sportsbiz/index.htmThe ultimate fantasy -- profits Sports fantasy games have grown steadily to reach 15M players, but profits are a new game.
September 2, 2003: 10:45 AM EDT
A weekly column by Chris Isidore, CNN/Money Senior Writer

Fantasy Sports Industry Now over 15 Million
Business Wire,  August 14, 2003