Are Fantasy Sports and Real Sports Mutually Beneficial?
While fantasy football traces its roots back to 1962 in a New York City hotel room, fantasy sports took off in early 2000, as the Internet explosion turned an idea into a mainstream hobby. Although some of the most popular fantasy sports these days remain American football, fantasy baseball, and soccer, other sports are also taking the online route, turning people into regular sports managers and dedicated fans.
A sports fan had at least one moment when they had a very strong opinion about how a team should have played a game or what a particular player should have done on the field. Fantasy sports do just that: they allow fans to enter the sport via an alternative route and become part of it.
Fantasy sports are skill-based engagement platforms that allow users to test their sports knowledge in selecting athletes from teams competing in real-life sporting events and thus form a virtual team. Users combine their deep sports knowledge, creativity, and managerial skills to have their teams win. With this world’s incredible Internet speeds, dozens of sports data providers, and a Fantasy Premier League making fans’ dreams come true, fantasy sports are here to stay and grow.
Fantasy Sports Is an Ever-Growing Market
According to last year’s market reports, the global fantasy sports market is expected to grow by 2025 at a CAGR of 14.7%, reaching about $38.60 billion. The digital infrastructure growth, smartphones’ ubiquity, affordable smartphones, increasing youth population, and the expansion of fantasy sports applications are just a few factors that contribute to this global popularity. However, experts cannot overlook the pandemic, either. With millions of people staying mostly at home, fantasy sports are a power to be reckoned with.
So much so that even governments take an interest in them. For example, in India, the rise of fantasy sports creates vast job opportunities for software engineers, data scientists, cyber security experts, and more. Moreover, the taxes paid by the Indian fantasy sports platforms and operators directly contribute to the overall growth of the Indian economy. They also promote cross-country digital literacy, digital payments, technology adoption, etc. In addition, because of fantasy sports, other ones have started to become popular besides fantasy cricket. For example, Kabaddi, volleyball, and hockey are the new rage in India, with people engaging in the sports both virtually and physically.
How Fantasy Sports Benefit Real Sports
Fantasy sports cannot exist without the real deal. Fantasy sports are interactive games allowing people to compete as general managers of their virtual clubs against other peoples’ virtual clubs. All fantasy competitions are based on the statistical performance of real players in actual games. In fantasy sports, you earn points based on real-life statistics converted into fantasy points. Most users play the roles of general manager and field manager for their teams. They assemble teams, make drafts, close deals, put lineups together, and work hard for the highest statistical output possible.
But how does it work the other way around?
If India is an example, fantasy sports support digital literacy and technological growth. Besides paying a lot of taxes, fantasy sports open the door to IT specialists taking new and exciting jobs. Moreover, fantasy sports increase total sports viewership, participation, and sponsorships. The more people want to engage in fantasy sports, the more they will engage in the real ones, watching players, collecting data, attending events, making new friends, etc.
Fantasy sports encourage sports consumption. Online platforms need to receive the commendation of collaboration with real sports leagues and associations. These partnerships boosted fan engagement and helped increase the visibility of less popular sports and tournaments. With the pandemic canceling real sports events, fans turned to fantasy sports to discover and consume fantasy women’s volleyball, German basketball, MMA matches, NASCAR and F1 races, Australian rugby, WNBA, etc.
North America, the largest consumer of fantasy sports to date, is stepping up its fantasy game to unprecedented levels. AI, the engine powering fantasy sports, is now in the good hands of IBM and ESPN. The two giants worked together in 2020 to develop a new fantasy football app featuring IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence. It is there to generate fair transactions while keeping players educated and updated on the complexities of fantasy sports trading.
E-sports and fantasy sports are here to stay, reshaping technology, growing economies, and attracting more new people to popular and obscure sports, competitions, teams, and tournaments. In addition, the new tech era dominated by Big Data and AI will most likely change everything we know about playing sports or consuming them. However, fantasy sports are simply and utterly fun at the end of the day. In other words, if you have never tried it until now, you will surely find a friend to introduce you to this exciting, challenging, and entertaining world soon enough.