Is Technology Spoiling Fantasy Football?

September 3, 2015 by Mike Goff

If you’re one of the 33+ million people who play Fantasy Football each year, you can easily picture the scene as I walked into a local sports bar last evening. The place was packed, baseball games dominated the dozen or so TVs spread throughout the room, and the vast majority of the inhabitants were looking down at a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Why? Because it’s Fantasy Football draft season!

Has our use of technology spoiled Fantasy Football? Hear me out - what used to be a communal experience with smack talk, plotting of draft selection, players “on the clock” to submit their picks, and plenty of conversation, wings and adult beverages is now a shortened evening where the majority of us use “auto select” for our team. Why, roughly half of our league’s players weren’t even present last night as they attended virtually or simply set their selections to select the best available player.

In this age of immediacy and mobile apps, we seem to have lost sight that a huge appeal of sports is the sense of community and shared experience. I would contend that communal experience is what propelled the hyper-speed growth of Fantasy Football, and other fantasy sports, given the opportunity to gather, to talk, to debate and to share. The primary sharing that I witnessed last night was when one of us needed help activating an ESPN Fantasy Football app on a tablet.

Daily Fantasy Football, a la Draft Kings and Fan Duel, is growing rapidly, as noted in Premier’s white paper, “The State of Sports.” Why? Maybe because its appeal is to the hard-core player who wants the immediacy of recovering from losses by playing on a daily or week-to-week basis.

Is daily/weekly fantasy taking users away from the more traditional season-long leagues? Will the reliance upon mobile technology impact the engagement of fans as they draft their teams and set the season-long leagues? Time will tell but from this vantage point, my traditional self misses the time when drafts stretched into the night and my evening was spent in spirited debate about the merits of drafting a defense-special teams unit in the fourth round.

Happy picking everyone!

(For your copy of Premier’s “The State of Sports” white paper, sign up to download your copy.)