Those football fans among you have probably been enjoying the season for weeks now (depending on your team). And the die-hard football fanatics are probably already well-aware of the phenomenon that is fantasy football. For the uninitiated, though, fantasy football is a game in which players “draft” real, live NFL players to be on their fanatasy teams. Their teams then score points based on how the players perform in their real-life football games.
How did you get interested in fantasy football?
I loved NFL football but became very frustrated when the only matchups on TV were boring contests between weak teams. I wanted more excitement. A fellow aviator from my flying squadron (336th FS-we flew F-15E fighter jets for the USAF) suggested a “new” game called Fantasy Football and from that moment on I was hooked. I loved the ability to have different players from different teams (now I had a reason to watch those boring games because my players were in them and I had a vested interest). The more I played, the more I wanted to win and the more I wanted to learn everything about it. And it gave me a better appreciation of football too.
What’s a good age to introduce a boy to fantasy football? Why?
It depends on the maturity of the child, but I would say the earliest is around 7 or 8. At that age parents can share their enjoyment of watching football and the basic math skills of fantasy football can be introduced. Math skills such as addition (points for TDs), subtraction (lose points for INTs) and multiplication (multiple TDs) are easy to show and foster with fantasy football.
Later at around age 12 or 13, the boys are getting more interested in sports and team play. Fantasy football is a great way to teach them good decision-making skills (who do you want vs. who is available at what time), problem-solving (when to switch players to maximize efficiency of the whole team), and also risks vs. rewards (choosing proven veterans over unproven high-priced rookies, etc.) It can be a good teaching tool if implemented correctly. The child learns that “owner” decisions have an immediate impact on the team and one player does not control the game.
A lot of people consider fantasy football “a waste of time,” but there’s a lot to it. It’s fun, of course, but there’s also statistics and critical thinking. Your book even includes anatomical info about common football injuries!
Over 30 million people play fantasy football each year and the numbers keep growing. I have seen the media adapt to this ever increasing demographic as well. Most of the highlight/update reports now include players and their statistics at the bottom of the screen. Those statistics have even evolved from simply who scored the TD to how many catches they have, their yardage and TDs or injury status. This is because of the fantasy football fan! So opinion of fantasy football has moved from the obscure “waste of time” to a billion dollar industry as evidenced by the 20+ magazines devoted to this fascinating hobby. Fantasy Football Guidebook is my attempt to provide a comprehensive guide to playing fantasy football.
How can a parent support and nuture their son’s interest in football and/or fantasy football?
Parents can spend time with their child enjoying the game while noting the “mathematical” aspects of the game. Also, encourage their child to be a participant, either on an actual football team or in a fantasy football league. By encouraging participation, parents can nurture the interest and will be able to communicate with their child on subjects of mutual interest and appeal. Since Fantasy Football Guidebook came out, I have spoken with hundreds of parents who have told me about the “bonding” time that fantasy football has created. Fathers and sons are fielding teams together as co-managers and spending more time together deciding on strategies (who to start) and watching their players perform.