Around the country millions of men and women are sitting in conference rooms, in front of computers and elsewhere shouting names of professional football players as part of the annual ritual of the NFL fantasy draft process. Fantasy sports are immensely popular in the United States and around the world and the NFL is the most popular of the fantasy games. I am certainly part of the crowd. I have been in the same NFL league at work for 10 years and a league with friends for almost 20 years.
Yet despite my willingness to spend time and money on fantasy football, fantasy soccer has never grabbed my attention in the same way. The lack of statistics is one clear hurdle. Goals and assists are in short supply and stats like blocks, yellow cards and tackles don’t grab the attention in the same way as yards, TD’s and receptions. Rather than the draft or auction format popular in most other fantasy sports, soccer typically relies upon a salary format which avoids the social interaction so integral to the fantasy draft. To my mind, MLS further soured the fantasy soccer experience by tying its games to Facebook.
Yet despite these shortcomings, fantasy sports are extremely important for the sport to grow with casual fans. Fantasy sports make players household names and create interest in games for fantasy purposes. The league should make an effort to promote its fantasy game while working with its television partners to discuss and promote the stats that are so vital to fantasy.
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