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Fantasy Baseball & Other Sports

IN THE April 9 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andLarry Ham,
andSports
SECTIONS

by Larry Ham

Have you ever fantasized about being the manager of a major league baseball team, and sending Albert Pujols up to the plate with the game on the line? Or sending Drew Brees out to throw the winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl? Well, a lot of people have and that explains the phenomenal popularity of fantasy sports. Larry Ham

The idea of Fantasy Sports supposedly began in the mind of sports writer Dan Okrent back in 1980, and it’s become a phenomenon unlike anything ever seen in the world of sports. The way it works is pretty simple. A group of fantasy team managers gather on-line, or in person, and conduct a player draft, selecting real life players from a particular sport to play on their imaginary teams. Once the actual season starts, the fantasy team wins or loses a head to head match up with another fantasy team, based on performances of the real players. Another type of fantasy league is called “rotisserie”, where the entire league competes against each other based on over all team performance.

Sounds kinda silly and juvenile, huh? Well, tell the estimated fifty MILLION people worldwide who play fantasy sports. I have to confess that I had friends who played fantasy sports years before I got involved, and I thought it was kind of silly. But once I got talked into joining a fantasy baseball league in 2007, I was hooked! The most enjoyable aspects of playing fantasy sports are, for one thing, it doesn’t cost a dime, you can compete without breaking a sweat or pulling a groin muscle, and you meet a lot of people who share a common love for sports.

Fantasy sports players come in all ages, sizes and backgrounds, too. Daniel Crow is a teacher at Cecil Avenue Middle School in Delano and coaches baseball at Mission Oaks High School. He’s been a fantasy sports player for nine years. He says the appeal of fantasy sports for him is similar to the reason he loves sports in the first place – a love of numbers. “It’s a fun experience with a bunch of guys who have the same appreciation for sports as I do and I’m a statistics nut,” he says. “I love numbers, and I love how the numbers can paint you a whole story without even seeing a game. I like the strategy and attention to detail of how to outwit your opponent, and it gets you to watch games you normally wouldn’t watch.”

Matt White of Visalia has been a fantasy player for five years. He makes a very good point about why so many hard core sports fan enjoy fantasy sports as well. “Sports fans by nature are generally competitive. Fantasy Sports is a way to unleash that competitive spirit and connect to the players and the sport. I think the interest level of sports raises, as the players’ success really determines your fantasy team success.”

And, as Matt points out, you can live out a sports fan’s ultimate fantasy right from your computer keyboard. “It’s like being a General Manager of a sports team, which is a dream come true for many people.”

And lest you think this is a men only playpen, think again. Many women enjoy fantasy sports as well, including Angie Marshall of Kingsburg. Angie is a school teacher and has been playing fantasy football for three years, and calls her team “Fragile Flowers”. “I love the competitiveness, the smack talk, the preparation, watching the scores on game day, but most of all winning!” she says. And as the only woman in most of the leagues she’s played in? “I actually feel pressure to win since I am a woman. I would be so ticked if I ever came in last in an all-male league.” But, it might be worse on a man’s ego to lose to a team called “Fragile Flowers.”

Fantasy sports is a lot of fun, a great way to make new friends, and it’s absolutely free to play. Even though baseball season has already started, you can still sign up for free fantasy leagues at
Yahoo Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports and other web sites as well.

Larry Ham is an ongoing contributor to our
Everything Education section, having covered many an area school game through the years.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Keith April 9, 2011 at 10:40am

I am certainly NOT a sports nut, but after playing in a Fantasy Baseball league with Larry and Matt, I gained a lot of appreciation and a better understanding of the game. It is a lot of fun!

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2 David April 13, 2011 at 8:48am

I got involved in fantasy sports over ten years ago. It has been a on and off experience over those years but all in all it is alway a fun time. If you ever do a in person live draft, that bring a real life to the league. But in the last few years I have found Outside Of The Park (OOTP) http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/out-of-the-park-baseball/index.php and what a fun game that is. It is a management game that you are the team GM and control ever side of the organization. There are online leagues that that use historical (my favorite), modern leagues and fictional ones too. For those that enjoy fantasy baseball would find this a next level of the enjoyment of the great american past time.

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