Fantasy Sports – Social Networking Or Time-Wasting?

Most of you likely looked at the title of this article and wondered, “Tommy, what the heck are you talking about? Fantasy Sports is not social networking.”

On the surface, it’s easy to see why the game could be viewed that way. But I’m here to tell you that fantasy sports are as much a vehicle for social networking as Facebook, Flickr, and even foursquare / gowalla.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, let me elaborate. In its most simple format, 10-12 participants join a league before the season starts. Pretty much every major sport has a fantasy game associated with it. Prior to the first day of the season, the team owners get together in person or online to draft teams of real players from real teams, assembling a lineup in accordance with the league rules. Then, when the season starts, they start or sit players depending on a variety of factors (healthy vs. injured, good vs. bad matchups, etc.). Teams then receive credit for the actual statistics each player tallies. The overall goal is to end the season as the best team in the standings or to win the playoffs, depending on how the league is set up.

To many of you, this may sound rather pointless. In fact, there’s even a rebellion by “Fantasy Widows” as some have called them (you can learn more about on the Women Against Fantasy Sports website [http://womenagainstfantasysports.com/], complete with a line of related apparel). But these games play a role much more important than killing time and maybe blowing a little cash.

Believe it or not, fantasy sports are every bit a vehicle for social networking that many of the leading services are. Let’s take a quick moment to look at some attributes of the game that lead me to this conclusion.

  1. Tribe-based – All activities happen in pre-determined leagues where all the participants agree to play within the same scoring system, by the same rules, using the same tools and features. This sounds a whole lot like my friends on official social media sites.
  2. Online – Although the first fantasy game, Fantasy Baseball, was originally administered by avid fans using box scores from their local newspaper, the game has migrated completely online. So what if it started as a truly social activity and not a cool new web toy. It was social before it was online, so it most certainly qualifies.
  3. Interactive – Fantasy sports are all about the ongoing activities you must undertake to win a league. All of the team managers must take part in a live draft, with full chat functionality in the online draft room. Then, the season is a mix of lineup decisions, trade negotiations, and adding and dropping players from the free agent list (a.k.a. the list of players who are not already on a team).
  4. Real-time – If anything is real-time, fantasy sports fit the bill. Games happen every day or every week, and real-time scoring is a must for the hardcore fantasy sports players. Team rosters can be adjusted in many ways on a daily basis. Team owners can work out trades at will, post messages in a threaded format (like blog comments), talk smack right on their team pages, and email back and forth between participants. Sure, the bulk of the action happens during live games, but whom among you spends 24 hours a day on social media sites anyway?
  5. Content-heavy – An entire industry has been built around fantasy sports blogging, analysis, advice, products, and games. Breaking news is a huge piece of this puzzle, and tools like Twitter and Facebook now play major roles in the dissemination of real-time player-related information. If you don’t believe me, you should have been paying attention to the chatter on Twitter leading up to the NBA trade deadline on February 18.

I know there are as many perspectives on this topic as there are fantasy games to choose from. What is your opinion? Do you play fantasy sports? Do you see it as a social networking activity? Is it just gambling, or old fashion bonding and honest fun? I think it’s due time that fantasy sports gets the positive press it deserves.

Does the Poker Site Shutdown Affect Fantasy Sports?

After the recent shut down of Poker sites in the U.S., many fantasy sports sites have been inundated with questions regarding the legality of fantasy sports within the United States. What comes as surprise to many people is that the answer is a resounding yes. Fantasy sports can be legally played online for money within the U.S. and there has been federal legislation specifically put in place allowing for fantasy sports to be played. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 which was designed to curb fraud and other issues with online gambling has a clause within the bill that states fantasy sports are not games of chance but games of skill, essentially eliminating any doubt about the legality of fantasy sports.

What consumers have to be cautious about is what types of fantasy games they play. Nearly all games out on the market today are legal but a few cross the line into gambling. The biggest difference between a legal fantasy game and an illegal one is how the teams are picked. True fantasy sports are solely based on statistics and not on the outcome of the game. This is outlined in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Other games such as “Pick em” and “Pool” games shouldn’t actually get advertised as Fantasy type games because the outcome of a game or competition has a direct impact on who wins. Even though these types of games are widely popular on and offline, they are illegal to play online in the United States because when it is broken down to its simplest form, people are betting money on a team’s outcomes. This fact alone considers it gambling.

Granted that statistics are the largest element that makes fantasy sports unique from other forms of illegal gambling, there are still a few other rules that are outlined below that keeps these games legal.

All prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the game or contest and their value is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by those participants.
All winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and are determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals (athletes in the case of sports events) in multiple real-world sporting or other events.
No winning outcome is based solely on any single performance of an individual athlete in any single real-world sporting or other event.
Another issue that can quickly be forgotten about the poker site shut down was how they were hiding their profits and either coercing banks or tricking them into taking payments from them. If you have ever tried to buy chips at a poker site you saw just how hard it was. Since fantasy sports are legal they don’t have to hide behind all the smoke and mirrors that poker did. The only concern for a fantasy sports player in this regards is that they need to claim any prizes on their taxes worth over $600. However, many Fantasy Sports companies already include a tax form with any prizes worth over $600, so there is no confusion when it comes to that time of the year.

Sports fans can rest easy knowing that the mainstream fantasy sites offer a great way to enhance your favorite sports and are completely legal.

College Fantasy Sports Revolution

Just when you may have thought fantasy sports reached a point of over saturation, a new frontier is upon us. With hundreds of teams in each of the major college sports, fantasy competition is rising to a whole new level with the inclusion of college football and college basketball. This really is no surprise given the popularity of these college sports and the popularity of fantasy contests in general. It’s development has also been aided by the demand created by daily fantasy sports websites where one can compete for cash. Fantasy sports contests for cash prizes are legal in most US States and on a federal level. At a Federal level fantasy sports is defined and exempted by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) because it is considered a game of skill as opposed to chance.

Nowadays many sports fanatics participate in fantasy contests from their computers at home and at work. Due to advancements in mobile technology and user friendliness, participants are now capable of entering contests, editing lineups and tracking player performances from their mobile device as well. All this adds up to a larger market that also has greater access to online sports contests among friends or strangers. College football and basketball is essentially going to fill this void created by the increasing and already large demand. One can then expect for media and marketing corporations to utilize this opportunity as an advertisement medium which should help compound the popularity of college fantasy sports. This translates into billions of dollars worth in revenue and will revolutionize the way sports are viewed.

When fantasy sports first became popular on a mainstream level, it changed the way games were televised. Now every televised game that has fantasy implications displays graphics with player stats during the game. Player statistics from other games are also shown – usually on a scroll at the bottom of the television screen. This will also be done for college football and college basketball games that are televised. As you may know, the NCAA has strict regulations for college sports programs and their athletes with regards to compensation for performance. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA will revise these restrictions as a result of the increase in popularity. All the major daily fantasy websites have recently begun providing college football and college basketball contests. Therefore it is still in the early stages.

Daily Fantasy Sports: The New Means Of Social Networking

The perfect union in the online world has been born: a daily fantasy sports website intertwined with a social networking widget. With this setup, players can create mini-leagues, share and receive real time update, and even chat with the other players from various teams. This further encourages a sense of camaraderie that would later on nurture a deeper love for this new era of gaming.

Several creators of daily fantasy sport websites are also working with the appropriate agencies in developing match centers wherein pre, post and live match stats can be accessed. Hence, these centers can easily become hot hubs where like-minded gamers converge, challenge each other, and maybe even share their strategies.

Daily Fantasy Sports Goes Mobile

Because social gaming is expected to be a growing industry for the years to come, it is not surprising that it has gone mobile too. DraftKings has recently introduced the first mobile app for daily fantasy sports and that’s the Big Baller.

The Big Baller is an easy-to-play game that has been simplified to run under the resolution required by your android phone. It is best for casual and expert gamers who may always be on the go but would not mind a quick play anywhere.

But even if the entire sport has gone mobile, there remains a touch of the essence of social networking. Players can still connect with friends through instant messaging or through one-on-one battles. Not only that, the mobile version of the daily fantasy sports allows you to test your skills against the app via the nine levels of play accessible. This would help you understand the mechanics of the game and learn the many strategies needed in order to master the play but without spending anything as capital.

The Areas of Daily Fantasy Sports

From a virtual golf game, daily fantasy sports now have numerous faces. Aside from golf, you can also play football and baseball. The core rules remain the same though: you can make your own team that will play against another team. It won’t matter how you name your team because unlike the traditional game, there aren’t any sponsors involved. You can even create your team with players of almost the same level of skill so that injuries won’t affect your overall performance.

The scoring, though, is different compared to the traditional football, basketball and golf events. This is because points are given in large numbers instead of the usual 1 point per score. You would need to understand the specific data and statistics given out by each team in order to correctly gauge which team fits your skill level. This understanding would later on help you work your way up the ranks.

The only changes that took place when it comes to daily fantasy sports over the years is the fact that players can now update their roster via their mobile phones or laptops. Points can now be emailed, tallied and then scored just a few minutes after each game. Player statistics can be sent immediately so you will know your ranking and the amount of winning.

Two Key Online Fantasy Sport Resources

The internet boom of yesteryear is largely credited with mainstreaming fantasy sports leagues and transforming them into an international pastime for sports fans of all inclinations. Today’s fantasy sport player has immediate and nearly unlimited access to all the games, leagues, statistics, and information that they could possibly need, and it’s never been easier for new players to get involved in the community. It certainly helps that there are a few websites online today that strive to unify existing fantasy sport players and foster the integration of new players into the hobby.

The RotoWire series of websites is by far one of the most comprehensive available. In addition to maintaining an active newswire that’s written by highly-regarded staff columnists and updated literally around the clock, RotoWire offers in-depth analysis and databases, preseason information, expert blogs, game hosting, and email or cellphone update subscription services. This is particularly impressive when one considers that RotoWire covers every sport that has a respectively-sized and active fantasy league, no matter how obscure the game may be. Of course, such great service does come at a cost and people must subscribe to RotoWire in order to take full advantage of its offerings. Players who focus on one sport will have to pay an annual subscription fee of $39.99, while those who want to play fantasy games for up to three sports face paying an annual price of either $59.99 or $69.99, depending on whether they want access to the magazines or not.

Fantasy on Yahoo! Sports is another solid online resource for the fantasy sport player. This site opens both free and paid leagues for public participation and offers players a variety of rule sets including traditional rotisserie or head-to-head games, pick ’em games, and salary cap games. Yahoo! does tend to focus around the big four leagues – the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB – but its news and analysis is intensive and it hosts a sizable community of casual and serious players alike. The website also offers seasonal mock draft games which allow players to fiddle around with creating a draft in an interactive environment without any obligations or consequences. Yahoo! is a free service.

These two sites tend to attract a more experienced player base, but they’re also so full of information that they’re ideal starting points for those who are curious about giving fantasy sport a try, though RotoWire does cater to the more dedicated player who’s willing to put their money where their sports enthusiasm is. For those who don’t find either site to be appealing, there are dozens of alternatives available that range from having a focus on a specific sport to approaching fantasy sport on a general, more inclusive level. All of these sites are only a search engine away.