Fantasy Football: Helpful or Hurtful to the NFL?

Brianna McCartney, Reporter

Almost everyday one of my family members says: “Did you change your fantasy football lineup?”

My brother, my dad, and I combined have seven fantasy football teams. It isn’t uncommon for football enthusiasts to participate in at least one fantasy football league. It is usually assumed that fantasy football increases the popularity of football, but is fantasy football actually beneficial to the National Football League?

Fantasy football may not be beneficial to the National Football League like most think. Some fans who participate in these leagues don’t engage in watching football games on Sundays anymore. For example, my brother, 11 years old, focuses on his fantasy football leagues and takes a lot of time changing his weekly lineup and making trades. However, it is rare that he is able to sit and watch an entire game. He usually focuses more on his scores for his fantasy matchup than on his favorite teams or players. So many individuals who participate in fantasy football leagues are not interested in watching the games. This season so far, the NFL ratings are already down 15 percent. With this decrease in viewers and an increase in people joining fantasy leagues, how could fantasy football really be helping the NFL?

On the other hand, fantasy football leagues give the appearance that they are beneficial to the National Football League by boosting the weekly ratings and drawing more viewers. However, there has been a dramatic decline in ratings recently so this might not be the case. Some fantasy football participants even become interested in it in the first place from watching the NFL. When someone becomes interested in the fantasy league that they participate in, they take part in watching the players that are on their team and supporting them. This can eventually turn into an interest in the sport. In the fantasy football league that I play in, one of my cousins joined the league occasionally watching the game and not knowing much about the players. Now she watches most of the games on Sundays and has an evident understanding of the players and teams.

In the past, most football fans had a favorite team. My favorite team is the New York Giants, so every week I follow their games. However, today, a lot of fans don’t have a favorite team because they are too focused on their fantasy football league. If they don’t have a team that they are watching and cheering for, is this really helping the NFL? Additionally, fans that follow their favorite teams are more likely to buy the merchandise or go to a games.

So are fantasy football leagues effective in helping the popularity of the NFL, or is everyone more interested in testing their luck with some well-known players? On one hand, when someone participates in fantasy football leagues, they are not as into the NFL and Sunday’s games. However, fantasy football draws attention to the NFL and will increase its popularity. So have you checked your lineup yet?