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Here’s Why Americans Spend Billions On The Fantasy Football

During the season when players get hurt, you’ve got to change your lineup, add people from the waivers

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Many fantasy football leagues hold draft parties, when league players get together to select their team’s players before the start of the season. (Photo by Flickr user David Clow via Creative Commons license). VOA

The first thing Nima Vaez-Zadeh does before starting work during football season is check up on his fantasy football team. “During the season when players get hurt, you’ve got to change your lineup, add people from the waivers,” the 30-year-old says. “You do spend up to an hour during lunch or whatever kind of monitoring everything, making sure you’re picking up the right people and your lineups are set.”

Fantasy football is a competition in which participants create imaginary teams from among the actual players in the National Football League (NFL). They score points based on the actual performance of their players in the real games. Money is often part of the equation. Each fantasy football participant contributes a certain amount of money to his or her respective league, which is won by the top player or players at the end of the season.

trophy, soccer, america
Fantasy football players like Nima Vaez-Zadeh often vie for the right to win their league’s trophy for a year. Fantasy football players like Nima Vaez-Zadeh often vie for the right to win their league’s trophy for a year. VOA

Washington-based Vaez-Zadeh, a key account manager in the hospitality world, is one of an estimated 12.5 million adults in the United States who will play fantasy football this year. But some estimate the number is actually much higher.

The Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association (FSGA) says there are 59 million fantasy sports players in the United States and Canada, and that about 39 million of those players prefer fantasy football. Overall, the fantasy sports industry is worth more than $7 billion a year, according to FSGA.

Like many Americans, Vaez-Zadeh has been playing fantasy football for years. And he doesn’t just take part in one competition. This season, he’s participating in four different fantasy football leagues with, in order, high school friends, college friends, co-workers and relatives.

“I enjoy it. You know my dream growing up was always to be, like, a GM [general manager] of a professional team,” he says. “This is the closest I’ll ever get to it, so it kind of makes me feel like I could put together a super team on my own and monitor that.”

But is that fun costing U.S. employers billions of dollars?

“We’re anticipating that fantasy football is going to cost employers this year around $9 billion in lost wages being paid to workers that are otherwise being unproductive participating in fantasy football activities in the office when normally they would be working,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Although there’s no conclusive way to track employer losses, Challenger estimates workers will spend 30 minutes daily during work hours — outside of breaks or their lunch hour — checking on their players, proposing trades and doing related research.

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But Challenger doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. In fact, he thinks it would be a mistake for employers to crack down on fantasy football in the workplace, especially with smartphones and social media already providing lots of distractions for workers.

“Fantasy football is one of those few areas that employers can insert themselves,” Challenger says. “They can start their own league, and it gets people within the office talking to each other, often people from different departments within your organization … and we feel like that’s a really good investment for companies in terms of the culture of their organizations, employee morale and camaraderie.”

Challenger has seen these results firsthand. His company sanctions an official fantasy football league.

“We have a trophy that you get your name engraved on at the end of each season and get to keep that on your desk all year,” he says. “So, it’s kind of a fun non-monetary incentive.”

Vaez-Zadeh’s workplace doesn’t run an official league, but he says members of the leadership team do participate in the office fantasy football league.

Of course, everyone wants to win, but for Vaez-Zadeh, a key benefit of fantasy football is keeping in touch and interacting with old friends during the 17-week NFL season.

“A lot of you will do a live draft, so everyone plans a weekend to get together so you get to see each other,” he says. “Every year, you already have something on the books where you’ll see each other again. It gives you bragging rights for the year, too.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s Everything you Need to Know About the Indian Cricket Team

Know what it's like to be an Indian cricket selector

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Cricket in India
Over the last few years, the Indian Cricket team has progressed a lot. Wikimedia Commons

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

The Indian cricket team is progressing, as one in horse-racing terms would say, “in fine fettle”. Cricket in India has become a lucrative career option and so cricketers are now being unearthed from many nooks and corners of the country. The glamorous status that it exudes with the added incentive of pots of cash alongside has now emerged as a dream for any aspiring sportsman.

This was earlier possible by becoming a superstar in the Indian film world and Bollywood was the platform to do so. Many of the legends of the glamorous film industry made their fortune coming to Mumbai or Bombay as it was then called. Cricket has taken over from the pretentious super heroes of the scripted film industry to real time heroes.

The limited-overs cricket has added that additional amount of spice and hence cricketers now have become the villains and the heroes of the entertainment world. The cricket industry is flourishing in all aspects of the game, whether it be the media, journalists, event organizers, administrators, medical doctors, fitness trainers, corporate sponsors, coaches or the cricketers themselves.

The words — transparency and good governance — are being spoken of to showcase professionalism. The process is still in the stage of transformation but a path to it has been clearly demarcated. The one area that is now an issue of concern is the selection of the cricket selectors not only for the national team but also for all the age groups as well as the state teams around India.

Indian Cricket team
Cricket in India has taken over from the pretentious super heroes of the scripted film industry to real time heroes. Wikimedia Commons

The present national selectors, some of whose terms should have come to an end, have had a fair amount of criticism not only from former cricketers and ardent cricket followers, but also from the present players. To please one and all is a very difficult task, but the very process of a selector being appointed at all levels is an area that needs to be looked into very seriously in the competitive Indian cricket diaspora.

Cricketers now, from the very junior levels onwards, are giving their life to the sport and it should become one of the most important tasks for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to focus on. A proper structure for the appointment of a selection committee should be formulated in the constitution of every cricket association and establishment that fields a cricket team in India.

The selectors of the national team are the most important cricket committee members in Indian cricket. One needs to have played a certain number of matches as an international or national player in order to qualify. However, the folly of this system is that the five wise men are appointed through a zonal representative basis. The zonal based committee was there because one had to select a zone team for the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy tournaments. This old practice still continues even though the zone based teams have been discontinued.

The tenure of a selector, which is now being debated, is not as important as the credentials and knowledge that a selector brings to the table. The zonal format leads to favouritism and ‘my man’ concept. If the coach of the Indian team is being selected through an interview process, so should the selectors. It needs to be an open race for the five positions, after all it is now a paid profession and has to have some seriousness to it.

Similarly, the same process should be followed at the state level and at all the junior levels. Nominating at random is why aspiring and established cricketers are very critical of the present process and a change is the only desirable way forward.

A selector at the state level is still doing an honourary job and so to get a totally committed person giving a 100 per cent of his time is a rarity. This is where former cricketers can play a major part, if the casting is open to all of them. In addition, selectors at all levels should be adequately compensated for their time.

Cricket training
Cricketers now, from the very junior levels onwards, are giving their life to the sport. Wikimedia Commons

Selection is one of the most critical areas of cricket as it can make or break a cricketer’s career. Identifying talent among hundreds of aspirants is definitely not a picnic in the park. A thorough research, analysis of past performances, specific skill requirements for the team and the playing conditions are only some of the areas of selectors’ workload.

Being truthful, honest, upright and unbiased are essential characteristics that a selector needs to possess. More than age and conflict of interest, the BCCI has to put in place a system for selecting a selector. It has to have transparency and brilliance in all aspects.

The lives of many aspiring young cricketers are in the hands of a selection process that is full of bias and favouritism. The flow of talented cricketers that are being churned out without a proper system of selection are putting a blindfold on most of us. There are many talented cricketers who slip out of the net. Indian cricket needs to create a process that gives every talented cricketer a chance to showcase his ware.

The BCCI now has a cricketer heading it and one who has been through the ups and downs of the cricket selection process. A cricketer is always ready to face the failure and success that comes with the game of cricket, but a selection dilemma in his life, is something that hurts very hard. Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, two legends of the game whom we admire, have both been victims of the selection process during their cricketing days.

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They have written about it in their respective published books. Ganguly’s book “A century is not enough” has tales of what he went through and similarly Laxman in his book “281 and Beyond”.

If Indian cricket needs to progress, the process of change needs to be first and foremost through a different selection system at every level. One prays that this will come into effect soon. (IANS)