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Fantasy football: Not just for geeks anymore | Sidelines

Fantasy football is not for geeks, like some people think.

Enough is enough. Everybody plays fantasy football, including the dudes who sit at the tavern all day on Sundays and make fun of the fantasy footballers who have their printed lineup cards at the table.

These are the same guys who secretly bought a Backstreet Boys CD and bumped “Shape of My Heart” in their cars, only to turn the song down when they were forced to stop at a traffic light.

Fantasy football is not only a good thing, but it is a great thing. The phenomenon is a big reason why football is king in the United States. There’s nothing even close to the popularity of the NFL.

Critics of fantasy football say it cheapens the value of the actual on-field game. They talk about the ridiculousness of a fan in Seattle watching the last few minutes of a meaningless game in Buffalo to see how their third wide receiver is doing.

Who cares? In today’s fantasy world, this kind of stuff happens all the time and just means that people are watching football. And this isn’t going unnoticed by the NFL and its advertisers.

Fantasy football has become an accepted mainstream form of entertainment and is currently dominating the websites of billion-dollar companies like ESPN, CBS and Yahoo! You can’t turn on any type of sports-related program without hearing commentary about fantasy football. Every little injury, hold out or trade is fodder for analysis about what it means in terms of fantasy football.

The next week is the prime time for leagues to hold their annual drafts, meaning millions of people will be shelling out billions of dollars on draft kits, magazines, league fees, etc.

Fantasy football currently boasts over 20 million participants, according to one website I looked at. And in these tough economic times, companies know that money talks and fantasy football owners are shouting pretty loud. They are telling the NFL that fantasy is here to stay.

Last year, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association determined that people who play fantasy are more likely to spend money on technology, media and sports-related items than non-fantasy sports fans, if that makes sense.

Corporate America has pushed all-in and jumped full-throttle onto the fantasy football bandwagon, and they don’t do that for something that only “geeks” play. I have yet to see Chevrolet, Ford or Apple sponsor a Dungeons and Dragons competition.

Fantasy football has made the NFL interactive, which is huge in today’s interactive world. Before fantasy football, a fan basically just watched the game. Now, a fantasy footballer not only watches a game, but also sets his lineup, makes trades with other owners, adds and drops players and follows his team’s scoring in real time.

Fantasy football also feeds on the basic instinct of competition. It’s been proven that guys will compete with each other over just about anything. And it can’t get much better than competing at something that involves football, can it?

As you can clearly see, fantasy football is not for geeks.

So, if you are minding your own business at the bar next Sunday with your Bud Light in one hand and fantasy lineup in the other, and some knucklehead has the audacity to call you a “loser,” just shrug it off. That same guy, most likely, plays in three fantasy football leagues, drives a Mazda Miata and has the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, 98 Degrees and maybe even a Jonas Brothers song or two on shuffle.

By the way, I really like Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner in the middle of the first round, and Tony Romo is going to have a huge season.

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