How fantasy sports fans follow teams
I have been a sports fan since I was six years old. Being from Baltimore, I cheered for the local teams, the Orioles, the Ravens, and the Terrapins. I also gravitated toward the Chicago Bulls for cosmetic (red is my favorite color) and athletic (Michael Jordan) reasons. I enjoyed watching players on other teams, Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Vick, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Pedro Martinez. However, I always rooted on my teams first and foremost.
For your typical sports fan, they follow their teams the same way. Many casual fans and diehards alike choose to simply follow their favorite team. Fans on the latter end of the spectrum tend to tie their emotions to the fortunes of those franchises. Morgan Irwin discussed the ways in which soccer fans religiously follow their teams, specifically soccer.
Matthew Engelke’s “A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church” talks about apostolic Christians in Zimbabwe who are devout Christians who do not read the Bible, feeling the “good book” is outdated. Fantasy sports players may not feel like sports itself is outdated, rather they way people follow and cheer for it.
I touched on this point briefly in my media experiment with one of my clips from “The League” a show satirizing fantasy football participants. When people who play fantasy sports follow the game, they tend to follow players rather than a whole team. For instance, a fantasy sports player might cheer for Andrew Luck to complete more passes to T.Y. Hilton if one or both of them are on his or her fantasy team, as opposed to a more traditional sports fan would cheer for the Indianapolis Colts. A fantasy baseball player may care more about Andrew McCutchen going 4–4 rather than the Pittsburgh Pirates winning.
This is not to say that fantasy sports players don’t follow teams anymore. Heck I’ve played fantasy football before and am no less of a O’s or Ravens fan because of it.
An article written by Blake Snow for KSL.com covered this very topic. The beginning of the story describes a Denver Broncos fan who after “his team” gave up a touchdown. “‘That’s okay,’ [the Broncos fan] chirped pointing to the [fantasy football] scorer. ‘[The player on the opposing team] is on my fantasy team,’ he added with a boyish grin.”
Snow wonders whether fantasy sports are truly conditioning fans to abandon their teams. Fantasy sports writer Scott Engel doesn’t think so. “It actually doubles your interactive pleasure versus rooting for a single team.”
Of course, this is not only limited to just fantasy sports. It it were, people (like yours truly) would not wager money in football pools or fill out brackets prior to the NCAA Tournament. That is a big part of what makes sports enjoyable.
Much like the apostolic Christians from Zimbabwe have not stopped practicing their religion, fantasy sports players still enjoy the things that make sports entertaining. They have simply found a different way to cheer for the players and teams that make up the leagues both real and fantasy.