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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Baseball saved by the existence of fantasy leagues

Baseball can thank fantasy sports for simply existing. 

When I turned on ESPN the other day, I kept seeing DraftKings ads, which seems to be the new heavyweight among fantasy sport companies. I was ecstatic because we now have another company to choose from when it comes to fantasy football and baseball. Living in a technically driven world, we are always on our phones. Even when people are at games they are on their phones. 

Attachment to phones and other smart technology is, at this point, unavoidable. 

What’s great about fantasy sport companies is that, with their apps, they’re able to keep fans interested, and they keep them wanting to follow along, especially when it comes to baseball. 

Football is fine in terms of attendance and general interest, but baseball needs a lot of help keeping fans from drifting away because of how slow-paced the game can be.

Fantasy sports have been running strong for over 10 years and as a whole have been around longer than that. Football will always be king. It will always be more popular than baseball, basketball and any other sport out there for many reasons.

The season is shorter. It’s extremely violent at times, which is simply American, and it’s undeniably fun to watch. I love baseball, but it is harder to enjoy at times because of its slow pace, the length of the season, the predictability of the game and the lack of hype surrounding it.

With football come tailgates, and shorter seasons keep the fans wanting more. There’s also the Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl commercials alone maintain fan interest, even among the otherwise disinterested. That’s why baseball needs fantasy sports. It provides an incentive to keep fans engaged.

Fantasy sports defy generational gaps. Everyone can get involved, from children with guidance from their parents to their far more prepared grandparents. What fantasy sports do more than anything else is keep the fans interested and wanting to watch and stay up to speed with the on goings of an entire season. Not only do fans learn player’s names, but they also start to become baseball fans because they really want to win their office pool. 

It draws in people who may not have been fans prior to watching a single pitch. Naweed Sikora with the Michigan Daily notes that fantasy sports “give you a chance to get excited over meaningless games at meaningless points of the season.”

Beyondtheboxscore.com has kept a tally of fan attendance over the years and, except for the dramatic drop in attendance during the 1994-95 season, attendance has slowly gone up. Fantasy sports has helped keep the fans interested, and it has kept them wanting to be baseball fans, even if their team sucks. 

Another important factor is that fantasy sports will actually keep fans engaged long after they stop playing. Some play fantasy sports for one year, or 10, or are on and off with it. The fun thing is that it gives you and your friends a chance to play against one another and bond over something you may not otherwise care about. 

I had a friend who knew nothing about baseball, but he still joined in because a few of my other friends and I were all involved. It brings in new fans, it maintains old ones and, long after one is done playing fantasy sports, the chances of him or her remaining a fan is a lot stronger. One can learn a lot about the sport during their fantasy sport career and become true fans. 

Sports may not matter to everyone, but with the option of fantasy leagues, fan retention and fan interest have never been better.


Follow Daniel Geffre on Twitter.


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