The Sunday Age and Sun-Herald carried a two-page fantasy footy feature including some familiar names…
Those of you who buy the Sunday Age and lugged it into the lounge room for a leisurely read may have been surprised to find on pages 14 and 15 of the Sunday Life lift-out and nice little feature article on fantasy Australian football, written by Brisbane-based freelancer Benjamin Law. Unfortunately the article doesn’t seem to be available online in text format, but you can pore over a high-resolution JPG version by clicking the thumbnail in this blog post.
The first third of the article is about the bloke in the picture, a Brisbanite called Michael Flynn who lives with his parents at the age of 26 and obsesses over fantasy sports. Perhaps not the greatest advertisement for the industry, but better than being ignored! Peter Jankulovski of Vapormedia is the next one quoted, with some big numbers and a history lesson. Then comes yours truly.
Those simple online interfaces have allowed obsessions to flourish. Paul Montgomery, who runs the independent AFL statistics website FanFooty, says he’s heard of people spending entire weekends building up their spreadsheets, examining game tapes and researching individual player histories. “And all of this information is jealously guarded,” he adds. When it’s suggested that this all sounds a little nerdish, Montgomery balks. “I wouldn’t say it was nerdish,” he says slowly. “It’s just that you think you’re an AFL coach, pretending that you’re part of the AFL industry. That’s not necessarily nerdy.”
Maybe Montgomery has a point. Fantasy sports in the UK have taken off in the UK to such an extent that newspapers now rely upon them to boost circulation, and pump up the competitions with cash prizes.
The article continues with a bloke from Australia FourFourTwo magazine and a 15-year-old female fan, interspersed with a bit of FanFooty-fueled fantasy jargon.
Even the vernacular of fantasy sports is bleeding into the general discourse, with terms like “spuds” (bad players) and “cash cows” (rookies rising in prices) becoming more common.
Happily, I get the final word!
In a country where sports tipping reigns supreme, purists at the local TAB might scoff at the idea of fantasy sports. Because these games are free, there’s nothing at stake. That assumption, FanFooty’s Paul Montgomery says, is wrong. “Oh no,” he says. “There’s the respect of my peers. And bragging rights. Both of which are very important, I can assure you.”
All in all, it’s about as positive an article as I could have hoped from the mainstream media, with the expected slant of fantasy sports being nerdish being allowed to be debated by me and others in the piece. The fact that Benjamin went out and found a schoolgirl who was into it, and quoted a number of 10% of females who are into fantasy sports, was very pleasing from my point of view, and I have to give Benjamin kudos for a very balanced and well-written feature.