Fantasy football costs the U.S. $6.5 billion but I’m not giving a penny back

fantasy football costs the u s 6 5 billion but im not giving a penny back america
It’s 8:30 on a Wednesday evening in mid-August and I’m sitting in a backyard in Sherman Oaks, California. I’m with six other guys neck deep into their 30’s, three of whom are arguing with people over their phones and one of whom is trying to keep tabs on his nine-year-old son. There is enough Pizza Hut to feed a small army. The sun’s been down for an hour and it’s still so hot out here in “The Valley” that we’re peeling layers of clothing off. No wonder the center of the porn industry is just minutes away. Why am I here? For my fantasy football draft.

This is a tech site, and I’m sure the very mention of fantasy football elicits an eye roll from many of you – I know I can actually see my wife’s attraction to me physically leave her body any time I bring it up. And I get the criticism; it’s just Dungeons and Dragons for jocks. But this is a tech site! We love Dungeons and Dragons – am I right?!

Guys?

It’s just Dungeons and Dragons for jocks. But this is a tech site! We love Dungeons and Dragons!

Look, fantasy football is a digital trend. Last year, a firm actually went through the trouble of calculating how much money the U.S. economy loses every year to otherwise productive workers managing their fantasy teams when they should be putting covers on their TPS reports. The number? $6.5 billion, with a “b.” How could the number be so big? First of all, because there are a ton of us – at least 32 million – and second of all because we’re all online. All day long. See? Digital trend.

I’m sure most people who are addicted to fantasy football have a story similar to mine. I grew wanting to play professionally, but being the smallest kid in Pee Wee football year after year made me realize it wasn’t in the cards. Teams don’t seem to be looking for Jewish cornerbacks that can run a 40 a hair under 6 seconds. Also, this looks like it hurts.

But being blessed with the not-so-rare combination of no size, no speed, and/or no athletic ability whatsoever doesn’t preclude a guy from being a General Manager, right? Of course not; the complete lack of wealth precludes that. So that leaves me – and 32 million of my closest friends – with fantasy football.

Fantasy football league

That brings us back to the draft. There are no shortage of places online to play fantasy football, but our league has always used Yahoo Sports. They’ve added new features this year, including a mobile app, a “sleeker” design, keeper league improvements, and even draft grades. Of course, the whole draft can be done virtually, but we always choose to do it together as a group.

Part of the appeal of fantasy football is that it keeps me connected to friends I’ve had for years but don’t get to see very often because we all have careers or children or are making careers for our children (hey, this is Los Angeles). The draft gives us a reason to all get together, talk a bunch of trash on each other, and eat pizza. Like, mountains of pizza. Did I mention there was pizza? Because there was a lot of pizza.

And once the draft’s over with, you have the whole season as an excuse to connect and just keep the lines of communication with old friends open. And by communication, I mean this.

There’s also the investment factor – fantasy football makes NFL games you wouldn’t normally care about much more interesting. I’m a Giants fan, and I’m totally into any Giants game all year long. But Bengals versus the Buccaneers? Not so much … unless I have Bengals receiver AJ Green on my fantasy team! Now that game is enjoyable. It’s a great incentive to watch and much safer than putting $500 on the game when I only have two bills in my checking account (although that’s a very special kind of excitement, too).

Why do I need to watch the Bengals versus Buccaneers at all? Hmm … I never really thought about that before. Uh … moving on…

It’s now the sixth round of the draft and, with 10 more to go, our enthusiasm is fading. Gone are most of the players we actually wanted and now it’s slim pickins. We’re picking up a team’s third-best receiver, a tight end; I think someone just drafted Director of Player Personnel. The nine year-old speaks up.:“This is boring.” Out of the mouths of babes …

Fantasy Football Board

Ten rounds, four slices of meat lovers and a shocking amount of bread sticks later, our draft is done. We each look at the draft board and tell ourselves we like our team. This is how it happens every year. We’re each geniuses. We’ve each got all the good players on our team. We each have a stomachache.

The next day Yahoo Sports provides us our draft grades. My draft gets a D. Then it gets worse. My two starting receivers miss preseason games with injuries and my defense keeps getting shred like a stack of paper. I make a switch, pick up a new defense. And I begin looking at other rosters to negotiate a trade. I’m forced to face the harsh reality that my team might suck. Then I realize my team does suck. I know it sucks. Another season down the drain before it even started. Why do I do this?! fantasy football is so stupid!!

Well, at least there was pizza.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Cars

In Moab, Jeep isn’t just having fun off-road; it’s planning its future

Every year, Jeep travels to the Moab Easter Safari to unveil a handful of concept cars. Some are based on production models, while others are classic rigs upgraded with modern components. It's fun, but the company is also planning its…
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Deals

The best sound machines to help you fall (and stay) asleep

Whether you find that sleep better with white noise, rain sounds, or deep sleep music, there’s a sound machine on the market that will be able to help you catch more z’s in no time at all.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Deals

Dreaming of a Peloton? These exercise bikes are just as good (and cheaper, too)

Modern technology certainly helps us stay fit and healthy. Whether it's fitness watches, or interactive treadmills, there are plenty of options out there. But perhaps the most popular name right now in fitness tech is Peloton.
Emerging Tech

Adidas has created a running shoe that’s made to be remade

Adidas has unveiled the Futurecraft Loop running shoe that it claims is the first performance footwear to be 100% recyclable. The shoe is the latest green initiative by the sportswear company and will go on sale in 2021.
Health & Fitness

Under Armour launches UA Rush, athletic wear that recycles your energy

Under Armour's newest performance clothing line, UA Rush, is a beautiful combination of science and apparel design. It's a mineral-infused fabric designed to enhance the performance of the wearer by recycling the body's energy.
Home Theater

Run to the beat of your favorite music with the best running headphones

Running is a great source of exercise but isn't always the most thrilling, especially when you're fiddling to keep your headphones in place. Check out our picks for the best headphones for running, so you never have to miss a beat again.
Outdoors

Puma is looking for volunteers to test its self-lacing sports shoe

Puma unveiled its high-tech self-lacing shoe at the start of the year, and now it's looking for volunteers from around the world to try it out and offer feedback so it can finalize the design prior to launch.
Emerging Tech

Meet the gene-edited bacteria that could make cannabis plants obsolete

Ever wanted to brew cannabis like you brew craft beer? At UC Berkeley, biologists have managed to engineer brewer’s yeast so that it produces the main cannabinoids found in marijuana.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robots that eat landmines and clean your floors

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!