The Draw of Fantasy Soccer

It’s hard to fathom the sheer intensity of sport that has been afforded to the general public this year…as one great event ends, another begins….and still in this ‘summer like no other’ we have the Ryder Cup to indulge – another event which captures the imagination like few others. As a colleague of mine put it this week, “I don’t like golf…but I like the Ryder Cup.”

And yet within all this, the bread and butter of the English sporting plate has returned with little pomp and circumstance. Nonetheless, soccer is back – and with it is the unenviable spectre of Fantasy soccer, something that even Andy Murray is addicted to.

And why wouldn’t he be? Since its UK inception in 1991, Fantasy soccer has expanded with an almost exponential effect, in line with the growth of the internet, television broadcasting and changes in the social culture of soccer. Whilst these factors are not the subject of this article, they are worth considering in passing – consider, for example, that this year’s Official Fantasy Premier League game (the source of our player analysis) has a whopping 2,354,149 in this year’s game. A simple Google search reveals over 50 Fantasy soccer games, all offering a myriad of different incentives and rewards for joining their game (usually at a fee, of course). Net guides and analysis are also available from those avid nuts who just can’t get enough (and this is at UK standards…our friends over the pond take it to a whole new level!)

It is not hard to reason why, once you consider the average upbringing of the 80’s or 90’s child, coupled with the social factors listed above. However, the more anecdotal amongst would put it down to other factors; factors which are of our own experience, and of our own creation. And it is from this standpoint where I would contend that Fantasy soccer is not a result of social change, but of the mindset of your stereotypical, average male soccer fan. Put quite simply, of the fact that we daydream! We’ve all done it – mentally picked the teams of our favourite clubs, placed ourselves in the hot-seat of the gaffer, and pretended that we’ve won the Champions League. Hell, we do it everyday in conversation; with work colleagues, drinking partners, friends and strangers. It is this which makes Fantasy soccer so compelling – it allows us put our daydreams into reality. Except in this game, sometimes it’s for the worse…

So, whichever version of the game you play, I wish you luck. Pick your teams, do the math, and wallow in the satisfaction of spending £70m. Pick your captain, spy on the other teams, and partake in the banter – whether in the forum, pub or living room. And as another Gameweek begins, tune into Soccer Saturday, Final Score or your generic sports website and watch the action unfold. And if you do better than my team (the Will Ferrell inspired ‘Flint Tropics’), I challenge you to sustain it over the year. Of course, I won’t be telling you my team…although it’s not that hard to find out.

“And as another international break ends…another Gameweek begins.”