As you all know, I am not a devotee of fantasy sports. I do not mind in the least that others find significant entertainment value in fantasy sports except for those times when – without my asking – someone chooses to tell me all about their fantasy pro fishing team and the structure of the league in which it competes. I was sufficiently aware of fantasy sports to know it was a widespread phenomenon but I had not realized the extent of its penetration into the world of sports.
Until last week, I did not know a trade association – The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) – existed to “to provide a forum for interaction between hundreds of existing and emerging companies in a unique and growing fantasy sports industry.” Moreover, that trade association has been around for about 15 years. If you are really interested in it, you can visit its website here.
According to FSTA, 33 million Americans participate in fantasy sports and they spend – on average – $467 in their pursuits. That puts the “fantasy sports industry” revenue stream at $15.4B annually. That is not a “stream”; that is a “river”. FSTA also estimates that the average fantasy player devotes 3 hours per week managing his/her team(s). If I make the assumption that all of the fantasy players dip their toe into fantasy football – clearly not the case but let me go there for the sake of making a point – that means that in the US during a 17-week NFL season, fantasy players spend about 1.7 billion hours on fantasy football. Please note that while I have overestimated the number of participants here, this time spent does not account for even one minute of preparation for the fantasy draft(s) that must precede any season where the “3-hour per week” average comes from.
This is yet one more thing where I as the denizen of Curmudgeon Central am clearly out of step with society at large. These figures do not tempt me to become a fantasy fanatic nor do they impel me to decry the amount of time spent – or wasted depending on one’s point of view – on fantasy sports. I am, however, impressed with the upscale nature of the FSTA. Their Winter Conference for 2014 will be held at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. For those who have never visited Las Vegas, let me assure you that a stay at The Bellagio is not “hardship duty”.
The NCAA maintains the fiction of the “student-athlete” – the idea that dedicated and focused college students who are thoroughly immersed in the pursuit of scholarly goals somehow manage to find the time to participate in athletics too as an add-on to their collegiate experiences. Then, every once in a while, there is a story that makes you wonder about these so-called “student-athletes” and why they are in college. Consider this case from Auburn University:
A freshman lacrosse player was in Baton Rouge to attend the Auburn/LSU football game a couple weeks ago. Clearly, he was fully caught up on all of his academic assignments because at 2:00 AM he was “out and about” when he decided that it would be a good idea to jump into a pickup truck that he thought was unoccupied and idling on the street to take it for a ride. There was indeed a woman in the cab of the truck who became a passenger on the joy ride.
The “student-athlete” managed to hit 9 parked cars during this ride before the woman was able to jump out of the truck unharmed. When the gendarmes finally put a stop to the joy ride, here is what the “student-athlete” had to say about why he did this:
“I wanted to see what it was really like to play the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ ”
Seriously…He now faces nine counts of hit and run driving, auto theft and kidnapping – to see what it might be like to play “Grand Theft Auto” in the real world.
I know the NCAA goes apoplectic when people even suggest that gambling on collegiate sporting events might be happening, but here is a wager I would make with them:
This particular “student-athlete” is a 100-1 shot to make Phi Beta Kappa.
The name, Maruizio Zamperini, is not widely known among US sports fans. Zamperini is a wealthy Italian businessman who owns the Palermo soccer team, which plays in Italy’s second-level league, the Serie B. In the 12 years that he has owned Palermo, he has had 27 managers (coaches in US parlance). Just recently, he fired his 26th manager, Gennaro Gattuso, after Gattuso held the job for 3 months. Gattuso’s tenure with the club for 3 months is about 50% of the tenure of the average manager for Palermo during Zamperini’ stewardship but it is hardly Zamperini’s most impetuous move. Consider:
On February 4, 2013, Zamperini fired his manager at the time, Gian Piero Gasperini. He hired a new manager, Alberto Malesani.
On February 24, 2013 – less than three weeks later – Zamperini fired Malesani and re-hired Gasperini.
On March 11, 2013 – just about two weeks later – Zamperini fired Gasperini once again and hired a manager to finish out the 2012/2013 season.
After Palermo’s season ended, Palermo got a new manager, Gattuso, who lasted 7 games into the 2013/14 season. Palermo stands 10th in the 20-team Serie B standings as of this morning. Assuming that the new manager lasts out the rest of 2013 (hardly a sure thing) Palermo will have had 7 managers in calendar year 2013. Somewhere in the cosmos, George Steinbrenner is smiling…
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:
“James Rosno and Tracy Anderson picked an unusual place to get married — at the Stanton County (Neb.) Fair, during a demolition derby.
“Which certainly puts a whole new spin on ‘crashing the wedding.’ “
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………