Online Fantasy Sports Has Become a Massive Industry
The world of professional sports grows larger every year. We continuously hear news about records breaking athletes, astounding contracts, and newer sports that are quickly gaining fans. Of course, this extends to fantasy sports as well. Almost all serious sports fans have looked into this pastime if their favorite sport has its own version. While NFL fantasy football is the most popular, fantasy soccer has a massive fanbase as well. Let’s take a look at how fantasy sports have grown to be popular around the world.
The Origins of Fantasy Sports
The face of fantasy sports has changed numerous times over the decades. It started as a pencil and paper based game, then had its first digital form with early computer games. There were several trading card games that were popular in the early 2000s, and eventually it has become a multi-platform phenomenon that encompasses websites, podcasts, mobile apps, and big prizes. All of this had to start somewhere, and that was in 1962.
Way back in the early 1960s, fantasy football was born as a simple game that was an extension of its creator’s love for NFL football. Oakland Raiders part-owner Bill Winkenbach was together with some friends in a NYC hotel when he explained the rules and created the first fantasy football league, the GOPPPL (Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League). Eventually, it became popular in the Oakland area, picking up more participants. Two decades later, the format would spread to baseball and eventually other sports would follow as well.
How Fantasy Sports Have Grown With Technology
While fantasy sports as a whole would have peaks and valleys in popularity, it has never been more widespread than it is today. Technology really came along and amplified the fandom, making it not just a pastime but a true passion. Winners of modern fantasy sports leagues can enjoy prizes, bragging rights, and much more.
Between the online platforms and mobile apps, the technology behind fantasy sports is very advanced. Websites like DraftKings provide not only a platform to wager on, but also a useful resource to help track teams and athlete statistics. While the industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years, these businesses tend to offer free bets and welcome offers for new users which allow them to stand out from the crowd. There are countless providers to choose from depending on your sport, and big sports networks like ESPN even have segments offering fantasy football tips and overview.
Revenue and Statistics
It’s startling to sit back and realise just how much involvement there is in the fantasy sports industry. In 2015, there were an estimated 57 million fantasy sports players in the US and Canada combined. Of this total, records show that more than 40 million people play fantasy football, and another 10 million play fantasy baseball. According to the Premier League in the UK, there are over 7 million fantasy soccer players for this league alone.
With so much participation, it’s clear that there is big business behind fantasy sports. Platforms like DraftKings, FanDuel and others have become multi-million dollar companies over the last decade. According to Global News Wire, the entire fantasy sports market is going to continue to grow by 14% until 2026. One metric to illustrate this is DraftKings’ annual revenue. In 2020, the business brought in $644 million compared to $432 million in 2019 for a near 50% increase.
Famous Fantasy Sports Players
Fantasy sports can mainly be seen as an extension of the passion that fans have for their favorite sports. As people from all different backgrounds enjoy NFL football, baseball and soccer, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are many famous fantasy sports fans.
Actor Paul Rudd is well-known for his devotion to fantasy baseball, and other actors like Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth even had their own fantasy football league. The rock band Alice in Chains also has their own league that regularly gives away prizes. However, while there are numerous celebrity fantasy sports players, their overall skill and success in this arena is largely unknown. However, there is one celebrity that is undeniably skilled in the game.
The Norwegian 4-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen was in first place in a massive 7 million player online fantasy soccer league in 2020. While he ultimately finished the season in 11th place, this still shows that no matter your experience and knowledge of your favorite sport, you must be very intelligent to understand how to put together a winning team.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.