Close to 4 million people in over 200 countries around the world will be signed up to play Fantasy Premier League come the start of the 2014/15 season. But what makes fantasy football so appealing to such a huge number of people?
Here are the 5 core reasons why the game of fantasy football is enjoyed by so many.
The Premier League is a global success with an estimated audience of close to a billion people worldwide. Playing fantasy football is a great way for all these people to get a step closer to the action and more involved with the game they love. Taking an interest in fantasy football is taking a greater interest in football itself; in the performance of players and teams outside of just the big clubs or your own team.
It increases your knowledge. Get just a little serious about your fantasy team and soon you’ll know who plays at left back for every club in the league, and whether or not they’re likely to get forward to make many crosses and pick up assists. You’ll gain a vested interest in most, if not all, of the Premier League games each weekend. Practically every goal counts and you’ll be rooting for players you might not have even heard of a year ago.
Fantasy football is a great way to keep in touch with friends and a way to make new ones too. Whether it’s staying in contact with old mates from school, getting to know new friends, or banter with your colleagues at work. Many fantasy managers will have been in long-running private leagues for several seasons now. Pitting your skills against friends and family – and winning - is the icing on the cake for any fantasy football manager. Saviour those bragging rights!
People love to feel in control. Playing fantasy football and building your own team puts you in control of some of the world biggest sporting stars. Closely managing your team affairs each week, planning your squad, and analysing team and player form, all bring increasing levels of control over how the outcome of Premier League football matches will affect your squad and it’s fortunes.
Football is well known for being one of the toughest sports to predict though, and, as such, you are of course never actually in control of what happens on the pitch. But careful study and planning at least gives you a strong illusions of control - which as an emotion-fuelled human being is all you need to get a your kick out of the game.
The weekly format of fantasy football and the unknown element of what will actually happen on the pitch will keep you coming back for more. You never know exactly when you’ll have a good week, and most weeks your team’s score will probably be average. But with each new week comes renewed hope, hope that this will be the week you hit a jackpot score.
This psychological effect is known as variable reinforcement and is the same reason slot machines and roulette prove so compelling at the casino; you play the same way each time, and mostly won’t win, but you keep at it all the same, as the next time could be your time. The same is true in fantasy football – you plan your team each week, research the players, and make your transfers. Come Saturday’s kick-off your team’s fate is out of your hands, sometimes your team will soar, sometime the opposite, and it’s this random and unknowable payoff which makes it so enticing.
Humans love to compete. We play games, we play sports, we compete at work, at home, in war, and in peace. Fantasy football is a very competitive game – it’s easy to pick up but it’s a tough nut to master. There are many factors to consider, and risks to take. Maintaining a decent team through a long season is certainly no easy task. But there is a healthy slice of luck involved too which keeps the game very accessible. This luck component levels the playing field a little and gives everyone a fair chance to compete – even a newcomer can beat a grizzled veteran in any given season.
Why do you play?
Now it's over to you. Have you we missed anything? Which of these is the reason you play? We always love to talk fantasy - hit us up on Twitter anytime @insidefantasyPL