By: Andrew Karns | September 24, 2014
If only I had a nickel for every time we heard this: The NFL is king. It’s a rather obvious statement but it’s 100% true. Not only is the NFL the number one sport in America, it’s also the number one TV show in America…. and that’s not changing anytime soon. Even as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Roger Goodell do everything in their power to bring the sport down, you can bet your bottom dollar that every single person is still tuning in on Sundays. No matter how many concussions, domestic violence cases, or DUI arrests there are it still comes down to one plain and simple fact: People love their football. All the sponsors “threatening” to back out of their NFL deals can go right ahead. Believe me, there are companies lining down the street waiting to step right up if given a sponsorship opportunity. Even after all these mishaps, everyone is still as zoned into their NFL and fantasy teams as they ever were. The ratings are through the roof. For those who thought fantasy football was big a few years ago (and it was), it’s still growing exponentially, especially with the introduction of daily fantasy sports websites. The fact of the matter is that fantasy basketball is popular but pales in comparison to the popularity of fantasy football. The NBA keeps chugging along as America’s second favorite sport. It’s a fast paced product, with likable stars, has a rich history and it’s a game we can all relate to because we’ve all played it growing up, and in many cases, still play recreationally. So why aren’t fantasy hoops on the level of fantasy football?
Even some of the NBA’s biggest fans give you the same answer: They don’t like having to set their lineups everyday. They think it’s too much work….and they have a point. BUT what those people don’t realize is that it’s just as much work as fantasy football. You can set your basketball lineup for each day of the week ahead of time, so it’s a total myth that you HAVE to check it everyday. Most fantasy hoops players just set their lineup for the week on Monday and let it roll the rest of the week. Granted you may have to keep an eye on injury situations, but you have to do the same thing in fantasy football. If say New England’s Tight End Rob Gronkowski suffered a season ending ACL injury during practice on a Wednesday, the good players will go pick up his back up as soon as they hear the news. That’s how fantasy sports go, you always have to be paying attention whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, hockey, you name it. With apps nowadays, your fantasy team is a click away on your smartphone to check on it if need be. It’s not hard. It’s not time consuming. Those excuses don’t fly.
At the end of the day, football is just a more popular sport in America, so why is that? I largely attribute that to the fact that it’s a once a week sport. The fact that there is only 16 games in a season creates a sense that every game is important and one loss can change your season. This causes friends and families to gather for that one game event at each other’s house and when that happens, it creates a sense of interest and talking points with each other and the bonding that goes along with all of it. The low number of games is a unique factor that only applies to football among the major American sports and football greatly benefits from that. If I was running the NBA, MLB or NHL, I would reduce the number of games and follow closer to the NFL’s formula of success. It all seems like a good idea but the owners make way too much money from having so many home games during each season and there’s also the sentiment out there that it’ll change the records books too much. This will never happen.
As an avid fantasy football and fantasy basketball player, I know them both well enough to give a good honest comparison. Like everything in life, there’s always a luck component in fantasy sports. We all know this. I drafted Adrian Peterson with the first overall pick of my draft a few weeks ago. I got one week out of him and then the news came out of his child abuse case and…. POOF! …. Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the league was done for the rest of the season. Should I have looked into his parenting habits before I drafted him? Obviously not. It’s just a matter of unfortunate events. I always say there’s more luck involved in fantasy football than fantasy basketball. Generally, injuries happen much more often (and randomly) in football and that’s largely due to the nature of the sport. That causes more chaos and bad luck than anything else. Most fantasy basketball leagues are set up where your players have 2 or 3 games a week to help you win categories. This means that if one of your players has a bad game, he has another game or two to make up for that. On the other side of the coin, if your opponent has a player go off for 55 points in a game, that player will most likely come back to normalcy the next couple games. Things tend to work themselves out. In fantasy football, your opponents QB could go have a career day and you more than likely are losing that week as a result…. and if it was a playoff game, then you’re season is over. We’ve all been there. It happens much more often than we’d like, but in fantasy basketball these random happenings don’t have as drastic of an effect. This means that the better team usually wins out. It also means that if you’re a casual fan, who doesn’t know as much as the rest of the players, you have essentially no chance of winning, unlike in fantasy football where clueless dear old Dad’s team gets a 7 TD performance from Peyton Manning, and thus, your superior team bites the dust. This is a major reason fantasy football is wildly popular. Anyone can do it and anyone can win. Hope generates interest.
Fantasy basketball should be on the rise. With the emergence of daily fantasy sports websites, people can just occasionally dabble in fantasy basketball whenever they want, no long-term obligations. Wait for when February rolls around and the NFL is over and people are itching to bet on something…. anything. One thing I know about America is that people here LOVE to bet on sports. Fantasy basketball is simply just another avenue. People are really starting to catch on to websites like FanDuel and DraftKings, and every year that passes there’s going to be more and more people who get hooked on those sites from football and will be yearning to use those sites after football season is over. As interest starts gaining steam, I predict more Fantasy Basketball leagues will form once people realize that fantasy basketball can be just as fun as fantasy football.