Fantasy football allows students to get closer to the game

Twenty years ago, fans of the NFL could only dream of playing a game in which they are the coach, owner and general manager of their very own NFL team. However, that dream has become a reality thanks to fantasy football.

In fantasy football, participants draft players based on how many points they are projected to gain from their performance each week. For example, the more yards and touchdowns a player accounts for, the more points they will get. The goal is to have your team of players get more points than an opponent from the league.

Junior Eli Dresbach said he has been playing fantasy football since he was in fourth grade and is an avid football fan. The ability to control your own team has led to many people all over the world to take an interest in playing the game, he explained.

 “It’s fun to follow along with the games,” Dresbach said. “It feels like you’re actually a part of the league.”

Having full control over your team and being able to do what you like is very interesting to many people, including senior Jude Nathan. He explained that he learned about fantasy football from some of his friends’ older brothers. Since then, he has played every year.

“I love the strategy aspect of it, with the trades and picking up new players every week,” Nathan said, “including trying to trick my friends into giving me good players.”

Dresbach and Nathan both said they have become less of a fan of a certain team and more of a fan of specific players instead. This is because fantasy football players want to see the team they made win, Dresbach said. Entire teams can’t win a fantasy football game, so the individual players are who viewers watch for, they explained.

“I used to be a die-hard Ravens fan, then I started drifting away from that when I started playing fantasy football,” Nathan said.

Freshman Eden Bradley said that she used her experience playing fantasy football last season to build her relationship with her family as well as to learn more about the game.

“We just wanted to do something as a family to bring us together,” Bradley said. “It was a really good bonding experience.”

Nathan explained that a common tradition in fantasy football is to assign a prize and penalty for first and last place. He said that last year when he won his league, all of his friends put in some money and he ended up winning $200, and they also created a punishment for the player with the worst team. 

“Our punishment is that last place has to stay in Waffle House for 24 hours, and every waffle that they eat takes off two hours of their time,” Nathan explained. 

Besides the risk of losing, Dresbach says that playing fantasy football increased his love of the game a lot. Playing has made him much more involved as he owns his own team with which he can do what he wants and if he had never played fantasy football, he would view football very differently, he explained.

“I don’t think [watching football] would be as enjoyable,” Dresbach said. “It’s a lot more fun to make your own opinions.”

For people who don’t typically follow sports often, such as Bradley, playing fantasy football is a great way to get involved in sports and have a good time, she explained.

“I’m not the biggest sports fan and I didn’t really know that much about football, but I learned a lot through [playing fantasy football] and it definitely made the sport more interesting for me,” Bradley said.