Fantasy players enjoy real pleasure

(Michele Tranquilli)
Posted: May 05, 2010

It sometimes can be a delicate balance, but the majority of fans who participated in our survey have no trouble separating fantasy from reality.

Nearly 80 percent of the fantasy players the Daily News polled in conjunction with Temple's Sport Industry Research Center said they do not enjoy playing fantasy more than actually watching sports. In other words, if they are at Lincoln Financial Field for September's season opener, they will be rooting for the Eagles to pound the Packers - even if Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is their fantasy quarterback. (By the way, more than 4 percent said they do enjoy playing fantasy more than actually watching.)

"Reality always takes priority," said Ryan Cathrall, of Pine Hill, N.J. "I don't care what impact it has on my fantasy team, if the Eagles, Phillies, etc. are losing because of it, I'm not happy. Personally, I try not to start players that will be going up against a Philly team that week/day."

That sounds reasonable up until the fantasy playoffs roll around. More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they paid to play fantasy sports. League fees generally vary from $25 to $200. Most leagues also charge transaction and trade fees, and by the time a season nears its end, there can be some major loot to be had by winning the championship.

Football, not surprisingly, is king. Nearly 90 percent of the fantasy players we surveyed play fantasy football. Baseball, at 41 percent, is second followed by hockey and basketball. NASCAR was among those placing on the list of "other" fantasy sports played, as was lacrosse. Lacrosse? Is Gary Gait still the Peyton Manning of that sport? Respondents were allowed to select more than one sport.

As much as fantasy can be about money or bragging rights or even a diversion, there's no question that it has become the mashed potatoes and stuffing to the 25-pound Thanksgiving turkey of traditional sports.

Just ask the nearly 70 percent of people who agreed with the statement that "playing fantasy increases my overall interest in sports." More than 21 percent said they "strongly agreed" with that, nearly 55 percent said they "agree." Another 8 percent "disagreed" and nearly 5 percent "strongly disagreed," which makes us wonder why they play fantasy sports at all.

Heather Reinsel, of Paradise, Pa., offered a reality check, however. "One thing I won't do," she stated, "is pick Cowboys for my team!"

Greg Lloyd, of Upper Darby, chimed in with a specific example.

"I hope that my fantasy players do well against everybody but the Eagles," he said. "I had Miles Austin last year and would rather had lost the fantasy season than watch him go off against the Eagles." *