Out with drear, in with cheer

William Baik

The scent of buttery popcorn wafts as you walk back to your seat with a hot dog and a drink, ready to cheer for your team like any other year. Except, of course, it’s not like any other year. You’re stuck at home, watching TV with nothing but canned cheers and awkward selfie cutouts of fake fans in the stands. So how do you recapture the excitement of live sports in the COVID-19 era? Why, fantasy sports leagues, of course!

Fantasy sports leagues are online competitions where you draft a team and face off against friends and strangers alike. It runs on a point based system, which is derived from a player’s performance that week in the major statistics for that. The sum of all the points is used to determine the winner between two fantasy managers that week. From there, players’ ranking accumulate based on their total points from the professional league’s season, creating a ranking system among your friends to see who really is number one.

Recently, fantasy sports leagues have become popular at Northwood in recent years, thanks to the Sports Analytics Club. Members of the club are free to discuss anything sports related, using fantasy leagues to spur conversation for their weekly meetings. In addition to these conversations, the club organizes fantasy leagues for club members to participate in to educate each incoming sports fanatic on the fantasy sports while introducing new players.

“It’s a reminder that sports have room to grow and also gives people a chance to learn more about sports especially while having a lot of fun at the same time” club president senior Henry Jia said. “It is also a plus for those seeking social interaction.”

The club’s involvement in fantasy leagues help them write their weekly articles. With game schedules and player stats being closely followed, members observe players or events that warrant an in-depth look using advanced statistics.

The growth of fantasy leagues expands past Northwood’s campus as well. Fantasy leagues experience increased participation every year, hitting over sixty million players as of 2017. Increased accessibility and the expansion of sports available are responsible for the community’s growth, transitioning fantasy leagues from a niche to mainstream hobby. In addition, the emergence of platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel have caused many adults to earn pocket change for simply watching the game that they love. That allows the younger generation to have an increased affinity for fantasy sports.

Quarantine has also increased the importance of fantasy sports for anyone who decides to play. The inability to regularly attend sporting events means that direct interaction for fans is difficult, and fantasy sports have provided a solid alternative towards improving interactivity. Fans have found solace in seeing the play by play features on many fantasy sports’ platforms and in the joy of seeing a drafted player’s points increase with every play, providing the ability to interact with strangers and bond over similar interests .

“Fantasy leagues are fun and accessible to everyone,” Jia said. “It’s helped bring people together, encouraging a lot more people to interact with the sport they love.”

The Sports Analytics club meets on Zoom every Monday, so if you’re interested, contact Jia for more information. You may not be getting tickets to games anytime soon, but at least you’ll have a reason to cheer.