Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

America-s-Quarterback-Bart-Starr-and-the-Rise-of-the-National-Football-LeagueIn the middle of another cold and blustery Green Bay winter afternoon, Alan Bart Erickson met the world for the first time. His parents, proud Wisconsin natives through and through, hadn’t been this ecstatic since 1961, when Bart Starr led their beloved Packers to the top of the NFL stratosphere. Weighing in at a healthy nine pounds, Alan was the picture of health. For the Erickson family, life was perfect. The year was 1981.

Many years later, Alan had the best day of his short life. The living room was standing room only as every Erickson family member in the state had their eyes peeled to the television. Wonder boy Brett Favre had just led a newly revitalized Packer offense to 17 unanswered points to take the lead. The lead would hold. Days after the victory, Alan could not stop grinning. The only thing that could make life more perfect would be to have beaten the division rival Vikings in the big game but that was obviously impossible. Alan had achieved football nirvana.

By 2013, the impossible happened. Alan, with his son Brett quietly nestled in his loving arms, cheered on a Minnesota Viking. Sure, like any Packer diehard he also cheered for his Pack, booed ex-Packer Greg Jennings and was disgusted by the indignity of tying their hated rivals but Alan had his reasons. In truth, Alan had but one reason which was the fate of The Alananiacs, who were currently grasping for post-season life. With the first pick in his fantasy football draft, Alan had drafted Adrian Peterson and karma’s blowback had been tremendous. Late Monday night, Alan’s team was officially defeated, as was the turncoat himself.

As alone as Alan feels, he isn’t. Millions of fans put their fanhood to the test each and every week. Too often, the fan is temporarily removed from FANtasy sports. And it isn’t just fantasy football but it applies across the board, and globe in every sports league. Whether you are a Liverpool fan rooting for Fernando Torres to score against your team or hoping Lebron James drops 50 on your Cavaliers, fantasy sports has changed the landscape of sports.

IBISWorld, Fantasy SportsThis reality begs the question, is this a bad thing? In an increasingly busy and transitive world, it can be argued that fantasy sports increase the escapism that sports already provided. With seemingly every television show now following the procedural script, sports remain the beautiful, unscripted means to engagement detachment from life. They provide an outlet for passion and connection while often being a vehicle for true drama. 

But, is the purity of sport tainted by adding the element of fantasy or does it add to the beauty? The debate is a great one but there is no clear answer. It is difficult to care about many games unless you have a fantasy player rostered so in that case fantasy helps sport. For example, would anyone, Jacksonville residents included, care about the Jacksonville Jaguars football team unless they had Maurice Jones-Drew in their flex spot? Doubtful. And yet, is it really worth it to cheer on your greatest sports rival in the hopes that they help your fake team win a fake crown?

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Further complicating the use, and purpose, of fantasy sports is the blatant fact that it is a business and there is a ton of money involved. Analysts at IBISWorld forecast that fantasy sports will bring over 1 billion dollars in 2013 and that is conservative. The rise of digital is perfect for fantasy lovers, experts and, of course, advertisers to sink their teeth into. Content for online informational queries, which make up 80% of all queries, are at a premium and as desperate fantasy players search for answers, the industry of fantasy increases.

So, if fantasy sports are less of game than the game they are determined by well then Alan should feel just fine. He obviously loves the Packers and badly wants them to win but if he can differentiate his feelings between real and fake affiliations, he can always come out the victor. Sure baby Brett won’t understand but when he is in a league with former high school classmates, some of which who moved away, he certainly will. Especially when he drafts a healthy Aaron Rodgers and rides him to fantasy glory.

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One thought on “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

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