Just two weeks ago, I was invited to play the role of commissioner at a fantasy football draft party among my friends. I chose not to participate in the league this year because it involved having to pay a wager.
And that’s exactly what stung me about the whole situation. I am accustomed to competing in a fantasy league without having to spend a dime. Yet, at this draft party that was the only thing that my friends were focused on. They rarely dwelled upon the subject of actual player stats or looked to study who to draft. That worries me.
I worry that fantasy sports are becoming what I never wanted it to be. It is becoming what it was never meant to be.
This past May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Act of 1992. With this, sports gambling had been legalized nationally and now it was up to the states to decide whether they’d begin allowing the action within their boundaries.
I know what you’re thinking. Sports betting is a billion-dollar industry in the United States. You can’t compare it to a fantasy league made up by the “bros” who are each putting in 10 bucks. But this ignores the reality that all things in this country that were originally innocent and free become infected with greed.
Fantasy sports was created to give sports fans control and the ability to build a team their way. It was meant to be fun and free. The winners of these leagues were happy, not because of cash prizes, but because they got bragging rights.
These fantasy leagues are created to bring out the competitive drive amongst sports fans. They aren’t meant to become a wallet-drying scheme or an addiction.
I’ve been uneasy ever since sports gambling was made legal in this country. I’m nervous that without us even knowing our favorite fantasy leagues will be tainted with the obsessive and money-grubbing that sports gambling has been in the United States for centuries.
The worst part is that it’ll affect those like me, the youth of this nation. It is no secret that us Gen-Zers love our fantasy sports. The thought of putting a beat down on your friends with a team built around your favorite football, basketball or baseball stars is fascinating and exhilarating.
Yahoo Finance verified that fantasy sport’s fastest growing demographic is younger people. This revolution in fantasy sports has been growing consistently. If sports gambling takes over the fantasy sports industry, it’ll only add more financial burdens for young American students.
“If sports betting is released into the fantasy sports world it’ll ruin it. Fantasy sports is supposed to be fun, not mixed up with gambling,” said FIU business student Bryan Lopez. “Sports gambling overtaking fantasy leagues will cause people to lose money they probably shouldn’t have been spending in the first place.”
Lopez’s words make the perfect point. How could we expect the young people who participate in fantasy sports to be able to afford to partake in a league that could soon require money out of its participants.
Sports gambling plays tricks on people. You lose once, and you suddenly feel like the only way to make up for it is to continue to play. That is where the inclusion of betting money in fantasy sports becomes so dangerous. Worst of all, I realized that even the most popular fantasy leagues are in favor of sports gambling.
DraftKings and FanDuel are two daily fantasy sports leagues that were once against the legalization of sports gambling. Representatives from both companies agreed that sports gambling and fantasy sports could not go together because fantasy is a game of skill while sports gambling is a game of chance.
Yet, after the overturn of the sports betting law it was revealed in a New York Times article that both leagues already had sports betting platforms in place to join the already existing daily fantasy sports leagues.
I once thought that these leagues were for the betterment of its users and sports fans in general. I now see that the growth of revenue that fantasy leagues can endure by joining the sports gambling industry is what drives them.
The DraftKings and FanDuels of this world are not on our side. The money is what drives them, not the fans.
So, I say this, if fantasy sports fans want to keep sports gambling far away from their realm, it is only up to one group to stop it.
The fans are the only ones who can protect the integrity of sports and the fantasy leagues that come along with them.
If we fail to take a stand, then the destruction of fantasy sports as we know it, could be closer than we think.