Monday, September 10, 2007

FANTASY FOOTBALL TAKING ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN

Fantasy sports has skyrocketed in popularity the past five years and this week's first full slate of games on Sunday showed why the NFL has become the most exciting and most popular of all the fantasy sports.
Nobody knew what to expect of Patriots receiver Randy Moss on Sunday and the guy lights up the field with over 180 yards and a touchdown. And did anyone - except maybe me - expect Dallas quarterback Tony Romo to take no prisoners against the Giants, throwing for 345 yards, four touchdowns and rushing for another on Sunday night?
It's that kind of unexpected excitement that has made fantasy football take on a life of its own.
After conversations with writers at cbs.sportsline.com, fantasy sports print publications, officials at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and New Haven native Mark Franco (a professional sports handicapper based in Las Vegas with a radio show), plus all the Internet reports that are out there, the updated conclusion is mind boggling.
In 2006 (January-December), about 40-45 million people played in fantasy sports leagues in the United States. The most popular of all the sports was professional football with about 29 million to 30 million people playing in fantasy football leagues involving NFL players. Based on people who have registered to play on all the various Web sites that host fantasy sports leagues, it is estimated that last season about 300,000 to 350,000 people in Connecticut alone played in on-line fantasy football leagues. The participation numbers are expected to continue to increase once the numbers are examined overall in 2007 and during the current football season.
In my last conversation with Franco, if there were about 300,000 people playing fantasy football in Connecticut in 2006 he figured that number would likely increase to at least 400,000 in 2007 and 500,000 in 2008.
The bottom line: fantasy football isn't a fad, it's here to stay a long, long time.

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