September 15, 2023 | SPORTS | By Thomas Nielsen

Autumn is here, and with it comes the football season. College football has begun at schools across the country, but Colorado College hasn’t had a varsity football team since 2008. Here on campus, fans of America’s most popular sport have found other solutions to get their football fix. Some have turned to fantasy football.

The Fantasy Sports and Gambling Association estimates that around 62 million players will be participating in fantasy sports in 2023. Additionally, a study done in 2019 by Challenger, Gray, and Christmas estimates that employers stand to lose a total of $9 billion from lost productivity during the football season. So far, no study has been done to measure the productivity students stand to lose, but fantasy owners spend an average of 6.9 hours a week working on their teams.

This bears the question: what is fantasy football and why is it so popular?

Fantasy football has been around since 1962. Many variations exist, but the basic premise is the same: participants draft a team of National Football League players at the beginning of the season, earning their team points based on how those players perform in each game. In most leagues, you face a single opponent each week. Scoring, catching passes, and gaining yards can earn you points, and the team with the most points wins the head-to-head matchup. Many leagues have playoffs which happen in the later weeks of the NFL season, assuring the league wrap-up period occurs before the league regular season ends.

Many fantasy leagues put something on the line to keep participants engaged. It is common to see buy-ins, with the winner getting all the money. Punishments for the last place player are also the norm, in order to keep everyone invested in trying to win. Creative and difficult punishments have been shared across social media, including staying in an IHOP for 24 hours, running a milk mile (similar to a beer mile), getting a tattoo, and taking the SAT sitting along with high schoolers.

This sport takes place at Colorado College as well.

When asked why he enjoyed fantasy, Theo Braatz ’26 said, “I like fantasy football because it gives me a reason to care about every single play.”

He isn’t alone in this feeling. Fantasy owners watch an average of 35% more games than fans who do not participate. It makes sense because instead of caring exclusively about the prospects of a single franchise, fantasy team owners are invested in individual players as well.

Fantasy also seems to be a good way for friends to keep in touch with each other.

“I have a league with friends from high school, I have a league with my friends from college, and a league with my friends from summer camp,” Braatz said. “I like it [fantasy] because it keeps me in touch with people I might not otherwise communicate with.”

From heartbreaking losses to year-long bragging rights, it seems as though fantasy football is here to stay. So, if you see friends or classmates chugging milk and jogging around the track once we return to campus for the spring semester, you might know why.

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