PRO- by Rowan Oberman Fantasy football expands rooting interests in all NFL games. While everybody has a favorite team, there are 31 other teams playing every Sunday and few casual fans have a serious interest in the outcome of a random game. However, because of fantasy football, people have a rooting interest in almost every game as someone either is playing on or against against their team, which makes football more fun to watch. For example, while most people who are not fans of the teams would not watch the Jaguars-Titans game, if you have Jacksonville Quarterback Blake Bortles starting on your fantasy team, an otherwise mundane game between two mediocre teams becomes interesting.
Additionally, participating in fantasy football creates a higher-level discourse about professional football. Everybody is paying attention to all of the games as a result of fantasy football interests, there is a heightened awareness about who is playing well and who is playing poorly. This added attention from fantasy football creates smarter football fans who are more interested and knowledgeable about the game.
Furthermore, being in a fantasy football league brings people together. For example, ESPN fantasy football writer Matthew Berry recently told the story in his weekly ¨Love/Hate Column” of how a fantasy football league brought a group of people together after the death of a friend.
While some would argue that fantasy football is negative for the player because it sacrifices team loyalty, that’s a choice. If you truly care about your favorite team, then you will root for them just as hard either way, fantasy implications or not.
CON - by Molly Bandelli You once considered yourself to be a Giants fan. But now, you’re a fan of the Giants plus Packer Aaron Rodgers, Patriot Rob Gronkowski and the entire Seattle Seahawks defense along with the rest of the players on your fantasy football team. So what happens if Gronk is playing against the team you have been loyal to since you were born? You're forced to make a decision; do you bench the highest scoring tight end or play him because you need the win to get your fantasy team into the playoffs? This is an example of one of the many controversies created by fantasy football that challenge fan loyalty.
The creation of RedZone, a TV channel on every Sunday sponsored by the NFL, contributes to the deficit in team loyalty.The broadcast allows fantasy football participants to view every touchdown and moment that any team enters the red zone; the area of field between the 20-yard-line and the end zone. Rather than watching their own team play or a game in its entirety, many tune into the NFL’s RedZone in order to check and the status of the players on their fantasy football rosters. Similarly, if fans attempt to watch one game, they are constantly distracted by the cell-phone notifications from their CBS Sports app, updating them on the status of their fantasy players.
With the recent surge of sports fans taking part in fantasy football, it comes as no surprise that they are slowly separating from the team they have grown up supporting. Loyalty is losing out.