The NFL season is here which means fantasy draft season is upon us.  All over the world friends are gathering at their homes, favorite bars, or online portals to draft a team. 

In the course of three to six hours a Chicago Bears fan will enter his draft room overjoyed at the prospect of a full season from Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.

After the draft that same Bear’s fan is now interested in the health of his new starting running back Fred Jackson while hoping that the family doesn’t discover that the starting quarterback is Matthew Stafford

Fantasy football changes the way fans appreciate the game.  With so many fantasy leagues gambling on their outcome fans have a vested interest in the performance of this seasons players. 

In the past gamblers received 4 points when they took the road team or they could bet the over/under against the house, with the number set by Guido. 

Today’s fan doesn’t have to outsmart the mob; they just have to outsmart their co-worker.

The unfortunate side effect of these fantasy leagues is fan anger.  The anger is worse than the days when you paid $50 to the local bookie at the bar.  It’s worse because the fan is paying off his friends and coworkers.  That makes it personal.

Instead of receiving a smirk from the Guido when they pay off their losses the gambling fan now faces the prospect of ten to twelve of their friends and coworkers spending their money while mocking their knowledge of the game.  Previously your friends got to ridicule you for your favorite team’s failures.  Now they ridicule YOU.

The rookie that doesn’t pan out? HE SUCKS! The waiver wire pick up that scores thirty surprise points receives eternal devotion.  Fantasy sports cause every game to become important to participants.  The Monday night football game between middle of the pack teams carries huge importance in deciding the final score between Johnny’s Chawbucks and Cindy’s NFLDancers that week. 

Fantasy football has increased attention on the game a hundredfold and is certainly popular.  I wonder if fantasy football increases the enjoyment of the game. It’s a question I will ponder while doing draft research for my team, The Tokyo Gordzillas.