It was over a couple of cold ones the other night that my mate came out with something that rather took me by surprise. He did not come out of the proverbial closet, nor did he express an admiration for One Direction. But it was with a concerning amount of self-assurance that he told me he does not care for fantasy league anymore.
It’s not something you hear amongst NRL circles particularly often, let alone the younger generation. Fantasy sport has been around for yonks but seems to have exploded in the last five or so years in league. The official NRL competition rounds up over 100,000 sign ups alone. His claim – fantasy league is not healthy. Why?
It makes you interested in the sport for the wrong reasons. You start watching games for no other reason than seeing how many offloads Sonny Bill is making or how many meters Billy ran to score his third try. And rather than seeing how many points have been scored by the team, you’re mentally calculating how many points your players have scored online.
Fair point. But to be any good (or presumably even interested) at fantasy league, you already have a sound knowledge of the game. You’ve already built up an appreciation for the game that extends beyond the trivial scoring pursuits of individual players. It would be different if you’re someone new to the sport where the only value you’re taking out of the game are the endeavours of your virtual team. If anything it’s making casual fans more interested in games beyond those of their beloved home team. Surely the more people watching the game is good in whatever capacity that may be.
The second worthy point was that fantasy league champions players who don’t usually get a mention during the telecast. It rewards players such as Shaun Fensom who make 50 tackles each match when superstars like Greg Inglis who we generally rate as the best in the business are left simmering at ‘above average’.
Certainly, the points scoring system doesn’t always reflect the true efforts of the players on the field. But I don’t see anything wrong in celebrating the true ‘grind-it out’ players of the competition such as your Corey Parkers. Their impact on the game may not be as noticeable as the fleet-footed fullbacks and halves of the competition, but that’s not to say their performances aren’t equally worthy.
The thing that gives me a kick out of fantasy league is the focus on up and coming players. A large part of the game is watching out for youngsters who are making an impact on the game in order to pick up a few ‘cash cows’. It gives the fans a more complete knowledge of the players in the competition and not just the poster boys you get sick of seeing on the Footy Show time and time again.
Just like anything in life, it’s all in moderation. If you’re drinking half a dozen stubbies every night it’s going to catch up with you, but not drinking at all is probably going to alienate you from certain social circles. I see people out there with meticulously planned spreadsheets who melt down when injuries strike. I see fantasy league supporters groups getting into bitch fights with one another about who’s better than the other. I say fantasy league is a great concept as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the reason why you first started following the greatest game of all.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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