Fantasy Premier League
Sports fans have always put together fantasy teams, consisting of their favourite players, in their minds or on paper. Today, this has grown into a million-dollar industry in the US alone.
In fantasy sports, the participants take the role as managers and build their teams, consisting of real individual players. The fantasy managers then compete against other participants, gathering points based on the statistics generated by the players in the team.
Fantasy sports developed in the US shortly after World War II, but in those days, points were awarded based on the statistics produced at the end of the season. Later on, magazine editor Daniel Okrent invented a game that relied on the statistics produced during the season. Thereafter, fantasy managers had to take into account not only what had happened, but also what might happen, when picking their ideal team.
It has been estimated the 29,9 million people in the United States and Canada played fantasy sports in 2007. Perhaps this is not so surprising, considering that fantasy sports provide an opportunity for every sports fan to see if he or she can do a better job, from their position in front of the computer, than the real manager of their favourite team.
In Europe, it is of course not baseball that gets the main attention when it comes to fantasy sports. Fantasy football was created by Fantasy League Ltd and was first played in 1991. The game was made popular through the TV show Fantasy Football League where celebrities such as Nick Hornby and Damon Albarn presented their fantasy teams and discussed football with hosts David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. Today, many national newspapers in the UK run their own fantasy football leagues, and it has evolve from a simple recreational hobby into a significant business. This is, of course, due to the growth of the internet, and the exposure it has provided for all sorts of fantasy sports.
The rules vary somewhat between different fantasy football leagues, but most often, the manager selects 11 players, and sometimes also 4 substitutes, within a price budget. There is usually a restriction on the number of players per club. In smaller leagues, played by a small group of people, players are bought by bidding between the rival managers. This way, any particular player can play for one team only, and the points he collects only go to the fantasy team he plays for. There is often a possibility to transfer players in and out of the team, but this can mean that the team looses points. It is therefore important to try to predict the health of the players before picking them for your team.
Overall, the ability for prediction is imperative in fantasy football, not only concerning the health of your players, but also regarding which players will “blossom” during the season and who hence will be well worth their price (due to the fantasy budget restrictions, you can never get all the top players you want for your team).