A Guide to Online Fantasy Sports
Fantasy sports are big business today, and remain popular with people from multiple age groups. Younger fans of a sport (such as football, basketball, American football) love to immersive themselves in fantasy leagues on a regular basis, competing with other players’ teams to come out on top. The Internet makes fantasy sports far more simple and accessible than before, enabling fans to play on desktop computers, smartphones, or tablets. This has contributed to its increasing popularity, leading the industry to generate millions of dollars every year.
While fantasy sports have evolved considerably since they were created, the core principles remain the same. As with any form of online betting, fantasy sports can appear complex at first, but with enough research and practice, you can get used to it sooner than you might expect. If you’ve never tried fantasy sports, it could grow to become a real passion – but how do you know where to start? In the following guide, we’ll take a close look, exploring the history, process, and a few strategies to help you get started too.
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The Beginnings of Fantasy Sports
Fantasy sports date far, far back to the years following the Second World War. The earliest form of fantasy sports revolved around a man named Wilfred Winkenback; he was once a limited partner in the Oakland Raiders, a well-known American football team based in Oakland, California. Winkenback went on to create the concept of fantasy golf during the 1950s, in which a number of players would create a team of professional golfers in a quest to win. The number of strokes were evaluated at the end of the tournament, and the person with the lowest would be crowned the winner.
Following on from this, Winkenback went on to devise what’s generally considered the first fantasy football league. This was known as the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (which isn’t the catchiest name ever created, it has to be said). It was a small group, with only eight teams involved. Meanwhile, in Boston of 1960, fantasy baseball was created by William Gamson (a sociologist at Boston University). In this league, colleagues developed rosters and earned points according to players’ final batting averages and wins. He took the concept to the University of Michigan, where fantasy baseball caught on, setting it on the way to the massive popularity it enjoys today.
Fantasy sports continued to grow and grow, gaining traction in the media and attracting millions of players across multiple countries. Of course, as with virtual casinos and electronic games, the Internet revolutionized fantasy sports. This began in the mid-90s. One of the first fantasy sports websites was dedicated to ice hockey, and launched by Molson Breweries as part of an advertising campaign. The site enabled players to create accounts and take part in nine-team leagues.
Each user would act as their team’s general manager, building their own squad from a selection of existing NHL players; they would have the freedom to swap with other users, and stats were updated on a daily basis. This was an innovative move that helped redefine how fantasy sports could work in a digital age. Following on from this, many other sites showed up for different games, like baseball league, including message boards, real-time statistics, and more. This helped to indicate just how far fantasy sports had come, transforming from a hobby into a major business with real potential to generate revenue.
A major step forward came in 1999, when Yahoo added fantasy sports to their services, which could be played for free. While some fantasy sports sites faced difficulties in the early 21st century, with big names like Fanball.com going bankrupt, others continued to flourish. By 2003, research by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association revealed a staggering 15m people were playing fantasy football alone, though other sports were generating plenty of interest.
Daily fantasy sports is a newer take on the concept, giving players a far shorter version of the game. These typically unfold over a week instead of a long season. Anyone looking to play fantasy sports can do so at a variety of websites. Different types are available across multiple sports, including picking teams rather than players. Advanced mobile technology makes fantasy sports playable on the go via mobile-friendly sites and apps. In the vast majority of cases, you can expect the same quality of presentation and performance on a smartphone as on your desktop computer.
Still, as VR becomes a more important part of the online gaming industry, fantasy sports will incorporate this too. This will no doubt let you enjoy greater immersion, making studying stats and leagues more dynamic, with animations, clips, and more. It may also let players interact with each other, discussing progress and drafts. This could recreate the more social side of offline fantasy sports in the home, bringing fellow players together without the inconvenience of travelling.
How are Online Fantasy Sports Different to Offline Versions?
As with any form of sports betting, there are differences between online and offline fantasy sports. The first is the social aspect. Traditional fantasy sports were played in groups, usually with friends coming together at home, at work, or elsewhere. This allows them to discuss their teams, their chosen players, and explore statistics together. This can create a laid-back experience, especially for hardcore fans of a particular sport. Sitting and talking about players’ strengths, potential flaws, teams’ progress, and other aspects of their favorite sport at leisure is so fun many people turn it into a fun afternoon or evening, with drinks, snacks, and a lot of laughs.
You can also gather each other’s opinions on trading players or adding new ones to your team, especially if there’s a real bond of trust. This is incredibly helpful for newcomers who might have little or no experience of a specific sport, but want to take part for the fun aspect of it. You can get advice, watch drafted players’ highlights together, and use fantasy sports as a reason to see friends on a regular basis. With online fantasy sports, however, the process is different. One benefit is the convenience: online fantasy sports are much more accessible, without the logistical problems of gathering everyone together. This can be difficult, especially when distance, family, and responsibilities have to be considered.
Online fantasy sports let you draft players, stay up to date with other players’ activities, check statistics, and stay updated with your league at any time, any place. Whether you want to access your page at your computer during work, or you would prefer to just hop online while you ride the train home from a night out, online fantasy sports are always available. It’s also much easier to gather the information you need with online fantasy sports than traditional offline alternatives. With the latter, you would need reference material from newspapers, magazines, and other sources to inform your choices. Online, though, you can find almost any data on any player you could possibly want to draft. It’s faster, too, enabling sports fans with tight schedules to take part even if an offline league is too time-consuming.
How Do You Play Fantasy Sports Online?
Fantasy sports revolve around building your own team from real players, with teams competing against each other based on the statistical performance of said players in the real world. This is translated into points, which are gathered and added together to discover which players have built the strongest teams. Traditionally, these are calculated by ‘league commissioners’, responsible for managing leagues. In online fantasy sports, the process is much the same, with a few differences. Daily fantasy sports now make up a huge part of the thriving industry, and are similar to the traditional fantasy-sport set-up. In sports like basketball and baseball, competitions can be as brief as just one day, while those based around NFL can take as long as three days.
You’ll have a salary cap (as with the traditional structure), and have to gather an unbeatable team without going over. Fantasy sports websites typically offer a variety of leagues and options, such as building custom pools with your own friends or playing solo. You may be able to personalize your rules, team logos, scoring, and other aspects, building a more customized experience for maximum enjoyment. Some sites may pay all winnings from the prize pool to the player with the top score, or they may share it out among the best-performing people instead. Alternatively, you might bet against another player to see whose team will achieve the strongest scores over a period of time. These tend to be the most common betting options, though others may be available at some sites.
Daily fantasy sports are a terrific place to start for newcomers. Why? It all comes down to commitment: having to play a league for a full season can be somewhat daunting, especially if you’re not sure whether it’ll actually sustain your interest. Staying up to date with your team’s performance and paying attention to statistics may not grab you to start with. With daily fantasy sports, though, you’re usually committed to just a day or two. That’s it. You can get a feel for the structure, for the prizes, for the website, and decide whether you want to keep it up or not.
Fantasy Sports Strategies
Feeling inspired to try online fantasy sports? You’re sure to have a great time (and might even win some money), but to help you make the best start possible, here are a few strategies worth bearing in mind:
– Browse different websites and pay attention to the various bonuses on offer. Brands will often provide newcomers with tempting deals to ensure you sign up with them rather than anyone else. The sheer amount of different businesses offering fantasy sports promotes healthy competition – which translates into great bonuses for you!
– Don’t be discouraged if you get some bad results at the beginning of your fantasy sports career. The strongest players will face challenges at times, so don’t let a losing day or week put you off for years to come.
– Get involved with the fantasy sports community. Whether you’re playing alongside people you know or looking to chat with like-minded players, talking with others using the same website as yourself (as well as in social-media groups) can help you feel like part of the scene. It may help you stay up to date with helpful information, and lead you to better bonuses in the months (and years) to come.
– Be careful with your bankroll. Don’t spend more than you should at the start – work out how much you can afford. Beginning with daily fantasy sports should help you get accustomed to how quickly you go through money before you try full-season leagues. Generally, daily fantasy sports players don’t put more than 10% of their bankroll in on any given day; anything beyond that might be a risk.
– If you have any friends or relatives involved in fantasy sports, consider asking them for some advice. They should be able to recommend a reliable site with quality prizes, offer insights into techniques, and may show you how to draft players. This can make starting off easier, and help you get further earlier on than you might otherwise. Perhaps sit and watch them play for a while, to get a feel for how it works.
– Don’t fixate on winning money too much. Fantasy sports – especially daily fantasy sports – are supposed to be fun. Yes, you may strike it lucky and build a team that brings you a string of victories, but don’t let yourself get too caught up in chasing wins day in, day out. Concentrate on building the best team you can, staying up to date with your league’s activity, and becoming part of the community.
Online fantasy sports are fun for sports-fans and novices alike, and the sheer amount of data available online means you can always find the details you need to inform your decisions. Take a look at the various fantasy sports sites, browse the different bonuses, and go slowly. The above tips should help you get off to a flying start!