It’s that time again. The time when millions of American males across the country will grab some chips and dip, throw on their crusty team apparel, grab a seat on the couch, and tune into a Sunday packed with football. From 10 in the morning on the West coast to well into the evening that night, the NFL becomes the center of many people’s universes–their eyes dim a little, their hearing deteriorates, and their productivity grinds to a halt. Disturbances, if people even dare to interrupt midplay, are not met kindly, unless of course the disturber brought snacks. When Sunday comes around, football is king. Period.
But, why is it king? Why is the NFL suddenly a multi-billion dollar corporation that can rule so many American male’s lives once a week? There are many answers, but the most prominent one is fantasy football.
True, the accessibility of the game has never been greater. With the expansion of television coverage in recent years, the stay at home fan can get a one-of-a-kind experience right from their living room. NFL RedZone, which broadcasts every touchdown on every Sunday, flips in between games whenever a team advances inside their opponent’s twenty yard line. DirecTV entices consumers to subscribe to their product by providing free users with Sunday NFL Ticket and viewership of every game each week, regardless of their area code. The widespread popularity of these programs have revolutionized how fans watch the game they love, as they now have the power to not miss a single breathtaking run, def-defying catch, or overtime thriller across the league.
But, why do people in Minneapolis feel the urge to watch Jacksonville get clobbered by New England? The NFL has grown immensely popular not because more people want to watch football, but because they feel the need to watch. Many fans today have something personally at stake in the outcome of the games. By way of office pools, friend circles, or online social networking, people invest their pride in the NFL through the ever-popular game of fantasy football.
Fantasy football is unlike any game before to come before it. It’s statistical analysis and prognostics, English for complete and total luck, mashed together with American football, bringing the complex game down to a science so even the most clueless fan can feel confident knowing the difference between playing Aaron Rodgers or Mark Sanchez. The simple scoring system of the game measures players in a quantitative way, helping for the most inexperienced fans to be able to understand who is better than others when making a team.
Fantasy football is special because it can become the sole reason people will get up early on Sunday mornings to watch the out of town games and become a couch potato for the next six hours. With competitive fantasy players pouring over scouting reports before setting a lineup and showing up late to school on Wednesday because they’re too busy scanning the waiver wire, popularity naturally generates. The NFL couldn’t be more pleased with the wave of attention that fantasy football creates, for the real live game couldn’t be any healthier. The league is the first game to take on social media and use it to their advantage, helping to bridge the gap between what’s happening on the field and the fans. Now, thanks to fantasy football, the NFL is the most interactive and followed professional sports league in the world.