Sports

How do you cure a recession? No fantasy football | Sidelines

The National Football League’s lockout sucks for a boatload of reasons. Way too many to list.

I cannot even fathom why there is even a lockout happening and I guess that doesn’t matter at all. Why can’t the players and owners figure out how to divide $9.3 billion in revenue and get to playing football?

Obviously, as an American male, I love Sundays and Mondays, as well as some Saturdays and Thursdays, during the football season.

But what makes the fall and winter even more exciting has nothing to do with the Seattle Seahawks’ quest for another playoff appearance. It has all to do with my fantasy football team.

About 32 million people in the United States and Canada play fantasy sports each year, a number that has grown 60 percent in the last four years, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll commissioned by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the industry’s largest trade group.

Any other summer, I would already have my fantasy draft board working. Who is going to be the free agent to bust out big? What rookie running back will impress his coach during training camp and win the starting job? Who is going to be my “sleeper” this year and who is overrated?

Bruce Taylor, the co-owner of Seattle-based Fantasy Index Magazine Inc., is already feeling the effects of the NFL lockout. Taylor’s company won’t be publishing its fantasy football magazine for the first time in 25 years. Last year, Taylor’s magazine sold 161,000 copies.

Taylor isn’t alone. Mega-companies like CBS, ESPN and Yahoo! are set to lose millions of dollars in revenue if there is no football season. According to experts, fantasy football is an $800 million industry.

Websites like those are dependent on these fantasy leagues for advertising sales and have no means of replacing it. We are talking millions of views for potential advertisers.

I guess the only people happy about the lockout and its potential impact on the fantasy football industry are the bosses in your offices. According to a study a couple years ago, office workers combing the waiver wire for running backs or back-up quarterbacks are costing employers as much as $1.1 billion a week in lost productivity.

During the NFL regular season, millions spend an average of 50 minutes a week at work managing their fantasy teams, according to outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The study also cited a survey saying average fantasy sports owners spend 34 minutes a day just thinking about their teams and spend close to $500 a year on fantasy sports.

So, if I were a conspiracy theorist like Jesse “The Body” Ventura, I would say the NFL lockout was put in place by the CIA to kick the United States out of the recession that has hampered the country for the last few years.

What am I going to do during the fall while I’m sitting at my desk during the work day? If there is no fantasy football season, I honestly have no idea how I’m going to spend my eight hours.

I would usually block a couple of hours out of my day to explore trade options, scour the waiver wire and talk junk to my boys (please don’t tell my boss I admitted this, thanks).

Now, I’m going to have to do actual work. Sure, I will probably write more insightful and better stories for the newspaper. But that’s not nearly as fun as making fun of my buddy C-Note for being bald or ranting on the league’s message board about JW’s hairy back. That’s really fun.

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?

So let’s get this done, NFL owners and players. I need my fantasy football fix — even if the cancellation of the season results in better articles.

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