Are You Ready For Some (Fake) Football?
by Scott Cox
posted Aug 31 2011 9:56AM
Weather motwithstanding, Fall is nearly here. That means it's time for America's newest obsession: fantasy football.
And I mean obsession. Bloomberg Business esttimates the cost of lost productivity in American companies at around $1.5 billion. But is there un economic upside to a few million workers checking stats instead of working? Apparently, yes.
First off, fantasy football players congregate in restaurants and bars to organize and plan the leagues. And they spend money when they do. Several chain restaraunts are actually trying to be more fantasy football friendly to get in on the action. Keep in mind we're talking about $3-4 billion here, and that's based on above-the-table organized fantasy leagues. The actual numbers are much higher. So there's a lot at stake here.
There are plenty of websites devoted to helping you manage your team, and they make money too.Perhaps best for the economy, winners spend their winnings almost immediately. And they should. In fact, if you ask any fantasy football player what they plan to do with the loot, most of them already have a plan (good for them). And good for America. Because, while lost productivity is hard to track, people spending cash is not.
Think of fantasy sports as an economic stimulus package. I can't help but wonder if President Obama, surrounded by his economic advisors, is quietly rooting for bigger and better fantasy leagues. After all, he famously filled out his March Madness brackets on company time. And that thing is over in a month. Fantasy football takes place over a third of the year, beginning with the NFL draft, and running through the end of the season. So I suppose the prez probably won't be partaking in the White House fantasy league this year (not publically anyway), though maybe he should be. It's not any dumber than the stimulus program was. And it gets results.
So should you take part in your office league? Do the economic benefits outweigh the lost productivity? Heck yes! Virtually all the cash that flows into the dark, nerdy world of fantasy football gets put directly back into the economy. That's good. And as for the lost man-hours (and woman-hours) on the job? I'm not buying that at all. The most that businesses have to lose on this stuff is a little bit of toner and wear and tear on copiers when players print out their stat sheets. And Bloomberg doesn't factor in worker morale, and it should. Fantasy leagues get people fired up, and keep them fired up, win or lose. It bonds employees together and that's always good.
A long, dreary winter is tough enough to get through as it is, and a little bit of friendly competition is probably one of the best ways to get through it all while retaining one's sanity.
I don't play fantasy football myself. I prefer the old fashioned method of betting on my team and losing my lunch money when they inevitably choke. But that's how we did it back in the day. So when a co-worker tries to lure you into his fantasy league, jump right in. Sure, he'll laugh at you every Monday, and will probably end up taking your entry fee and spending it on a new tv, but you'll get to be a part of something big, and getting bigger all the time. Plus, you'll find yourself interacting with co-workers in a positive way.
And when you get busted for using the copier for non-business purposes? Tell the boss you're doing your part to end this miserable recession. You're doing it for America.