The New Stadium: Fantasy Sport’s Effects on Sports Sociology

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Fantasy sports has evolved from its humble roots as the niche Dungeons & Dragons-esque intersection of sports fandom and statistical nerdiness. According to Fantasy Sports Trade Association market research conducted by Ipsos, there are over 36.6 million people playing fantasy sports in the United States and Canada and is a rapidly growing industry that generates over a billion dollars per year. The once maligned cult hobby has grown into an undeniable sports subculture, commanding regular coverage from all major sports networks, in addition to active online communities, podcasts, and even paid services catering to fantasy sports players. With the development of such a massive fantasy sports community, one has to wonder whether the “fantasy” aspect comes at odds with the sociology of traditional sports. The appreciation of sports is a medium of sociological bonding in many ways. There is a ritualism to watching sporting events -- waking up every week, donning the appropriate jerseys or attire, converging at the stadium, and enacting the cheers and gestures in unison with others -- that develops an collective consciousness or effervescence, much in the same way that Durkheim observed with religion. Sports fandoms also create a sense of identity and belonging as regional, socioeconomic, racial, generational, and many more identities can be expressed through team support. Traditional sports and sociology are deeply intertwined, and the collectively shared experiences that sports provides bonds society. With that in mind, it is easy to assume that fantasy sports works to counteract the socializing aspects of traditional sport. Fantasy sports games aren’t played out in stadiums or at enjoyed at viewing events, they are contested onli... ... middle of paper ... ...r broadened their appreciation for the sport as a whole, and additionally gave them more communities to be a part of. The interesting part about the western United States being more likely to prefer their fantasy team is that Los Angeles is one of the few metropolitan areas without an NFL franchise, and so team loyalties for a significant portion of the west would be weaker than average. If the same study were to be conducted with different sports, different results may be observed for different areas. In the future, this study could be expanded to a larger sample size in order to potentially see other covariates such as NFL team success potentially emerge. Also, the sampling is skewed by the communities they were drawn from. Those active in online communities such as these are predisposed to being more involved in fantasy sports, thus misrepresenting the population.

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