The Oracle

Fantasy sports: a game for everyone

Tyler Aki, Asst. Sports Editor

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Before every football season, Quinn Kilgore and his group of college friends meet up in Omaha, Nebraska to do their annual fantasy draft. Except each year, there is new addition to the league: an embarrassing four by four inch tattoo gracing the thigh of the loser as chosen by the winner of the league. The tattoos have ranged anywhere from a rainbow unicorn kicking a field goal to Justin Bieber’s face.

As crazy as all of this sounds, their league has gained national fame through features in the New York Times bestseller, Fantasy Life, as well as a spot in their own ESPN NFL Countdown commercial.

However, fantasy sports was not always in the mainstream. They used to carry the “nerd” stigma, only for the fans deeply invested into the numbers and statistics of the game. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, over the past 20 years, the number of fantasy users in America and Canada has risen 1400 percent.

Fantasy sports’ sudden jump into the mainstream can be greatly attributed to the people who play them. One such example is Matthew Berry, ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst.

As a former screenwriter, Berry realized the Hollywood life was not for him and turned his childhood passion into a living. Berry, who played in his first fantasy league at the age of 12 (a fantasy baseball league, which he is still a part of to this day), wrote the aforementioned New York Times bestseller and became a staple figure on popular ESPN shows such as SportsCenter and NFL Countdown.

Berry’s book reminisces on the most absurd stories that he has heard, or been a part of, over the years of playing fantasy sports and his journey to ESPN. His appearances at countless book signings, The League on FXX, Late Night with Seth Meyers and his own shows (06010 Fantasy Focus podcast and Fantasy Football Now) have drawn the crowds to participate in the “game for sports geeks.”

In the modern era of technology, playing fantasy sports has become so simple. There are a multitude of sites that offer a platform for fantasy sports with a computer tracking your scores as opposed to the old fashioned, “grab your newspaper and calculator and look up the stats on Tuesday morning method.”

For those who fear their rookie status will hinder them against the savvy veterans, don’t be afraid. The amount of information out there is endless. From yearly draft cheat sheets to talk shows, such as WGBK’s very own Final Fantasy, there are plenty of resources out there to help guide you in the right direction, and to make your first year a great experience.

I encourage every sports fan to give fantasy sports a try. It’s a great way to prolong friendships past high school as well as provide a nice distraction from life’s rigors. By being an armchair general manager, you are in complete control of your roster and can blame no one but yourself for drafting Montee Ball over DeMarco Murray.

Fantasy sports also help ease the pain of your favorite team’s struggles. You may own Jay Cutler, who is a statistically good quarterback, but you can sleep easy at night knowing that you’re not paying him $22.5 million to produce below average results in the standings.

For those of you who already play fantasy football, good luck in your playoff run. Hopefully I don’t see Justin Bieber on your thigh next week.

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Fantasy sports: a game for everyone