Fantasy sports leagues are boasting 40 million North American players

Jessica Dempsey 
Sports Reporter

Fantasy sports puts everyone in the game, and you don’t even have to be athletic to win.

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association website said that 41 million people in the U.S. and Canada participate in such leagues. About 80 per cent of players are male, and 78 per cent of them have a post-secondary education, according to the association. Wagering is typically involved, usually with an entry fee for participating.

Every league is different with its own rules and regulations. They all settle on players with each participant creating their own roster. With a roster, the fantasy players must make decisions on who will get them the most points. The participants then track how their team is doing or they must make changes.

“All of the major leagues are involved with fantasy to the extent of sponsoring their own fantasy games and providing information for fantasy players,” said Bernie Greenberg, client relations coordinator for The Sports Network.

Wayne Wilkins, men’s volleyball coach at Humber, was in a March Madness league with other coaches at Humber and said it was his favourite among leagues in which he’s participated.

Playing doesn’t necessarily require deep knowledge about the sport or players.  Adam Amor, 21, a Culinary Management student who is currently participating in two fantasy leagues, said many new fantasy league players absorb more about the sport when they have a stake in the game.

“You get to learn more about the team and players…learn why the teams suck or why they are really good,” Amor said.

Jeff Asiamah, 21, a sports management and former member of the men’s varsity basketball team, said “I use (fantasy leagues) as a way to basically get to know the sport more because I’m starting to gain an interest in it.”

Humber Television and Film Production student Brian Grilo, 24, said that he participates in his NHL fantasy league with more than 20 of his friends.

“There is a lot of crap talking and dishing out, everyone wants to win,” Grilo said.

The majority of players spend roughly $50 on entry fees.  In leagues like Grilo’s the winner can make $400.  Others, like Wilkins, join leagues for fundraising.

Greenberg said in the last 10 years fantasy sports have grown at a rapid pace, and are expected to get even more followers.

“The advent of iPads, telephones and mobile internet has probably made it expand tenfold. It makes it a lot easier,” Wilkins said.

With the growth of technology, the fantasy sport providers have had to keep up with their players.

“Major fantasy providers like ESPN, Yahoo and CBS sports were forced to develop apps that fantasy players desired,” Greenberg said.