Fantasy Sports media and sports betting journalism didn’t exist until 25 years ago but in the last two and a half decades the industry has exploded in popularity. With it has come an entirely new genre of journalism, sports betting and fantasy sports media where the sports coverage is specifically geared to helping bettors - Vegas casino online bettors, sports bettors and fantasy sports players - make the decisions that will allow them to reap financial benefits from their pastime.
Fantasy sports came first, though legally the industry was on shaky ground due to the nature of the betting that was taking place within the Daily Fantasy Sports world. Once the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that states could legislate sports betting, fantasy sports was able to go along for the ride.
Today, many young sports aficionados are specializing in this sub-section of sports journalism which has quickly become an integral component of the sports journalism sector.
Fantasy sports involves sports competitions in which participating fantasy sports players construct an imaginary team composed of real-life athletes. The athletes’ actual performance determines the scoring in the fantasy games which is based on the statistics that they generate on the field.
There are fantasy leagues that are ”rotisserie leagues” where a fantasy league’s teams are ranked based on separate statistical categories and “points leagues” ion which players’ performances accumulate points each week based on the scoring format.
As the fantasy sports industry expands, so does the need for journalists who specialize in fantasy sports. Participating fantasy gamers look to the media to give them the information that will allow them to build the strongest fantasy team possible.
The Internet has been one of the most important factors in promoting the spread of fantasy sports. Thanks to fantasy-dedicated websites, players can interact and find other fantasy gamers with whom to play without even getting to know the person in real life. Scores are automatically recorded and commentators can always be found online, providing player rankings and other vital data that makes it easy for fantasy gamers to move forward.
Paul Charchian, lead commentator on the Fantasy Football Weekend podcast, credits the Internet for moving the Fantasy industry forward by providing easy accessibility to information and endless fantasy sports content.
Ian Stone has been playing fantasy sports since high school and his winnings are how helping to pay his way through college. He’s been making a name for himself by offering advice and analysis based on pre-draft rankings as he makes suggestions on which players should be targeted for a fantasy team. He checks weather patterns as they affect player performance, team schedules as they relate to match-ups, play-off formats and more.
Another new media publication is DraftSharks.com which provides fantasy football analysis and advice via a subscription-based website. The publication employs a staff of full-time writers who focus solely on football, regardless of the season. Owner Lenny Pappano said that “that’s how we shape our opinion.”
In the early days, fantasy sports journalism involved a small fantasy column in a newspaper’s sports section. Fantasy sports writers weren’t necessarily experts in fantasy sports – the only expectation was that they knew a little about the sector and could put their knowledge into writing.
Soon though, the Fantasy Sports Writers Association established message boards that connected fantasy writers and by 2005, a significant number of sports journalism and fantasy sports outlets were hiring writers who would concentrate about writing about fantasy sports.
Despite the role that the Internet has had in the growth of fantasy sports journalism, Mead Loop, associate professor at Ithaca College’s Department of Journalism believes that fantasy sports media has grown because the industry is sustaining itself financially. “The growth of the industry … is because it has been able to monetize itself. That’s where the real success is.”
It’s no coincidence that fantasy sports and the surrounding support industries have benefitted from the new sports betting industry. While over half of about 41 million Americans who play fantasy sports participate for free, according to Charchian, the other half spend an average of $67 in entry fees per year.
Matt Schauf of DarkSharks.com said that the potential to win money in leagues is like – for not exactly like – gambling. “It shares that same appetite that would make people want to bet on sports,” he said. “Everybody thinks that they know a lot about the sports that they love, so they love having ways to try to prove that.”
However even before sports gambling was given the go-ahead in the US, fantasy sports was being recognized as an activity that included both luck and skill. In addition to making it more acceptable to the authorities, that made it more intriguing to players who wanted to go beyond good fortune in their participatory gaming activities.
According to Loop, “I look at it differently because I think it takes skill to win at fantasy sports, and I think the journalists providing content are using data as well as good writing to try to produce insightful articles. I think it’s more a skill set than pulling the lever on the nickel-slot machine, which is pure chance.” Loop also said that the ceiling will continue to grow. “What you have is a much more mature journalism industry now,” Loop said. “This industry has grown up, and the journalists doing this full time have adopted most of the norms of journalists who are in sports or news.”