Houston Texans RB Arian Foster pulled a hamstring. This is big news to those who already drafted him as their No. 1. It’s also important to the Houston fans that see him as a shining beacon of hope.
But football players get injured all the time, so this wouldn’t really be an issue worth mentioning if Foster hadn’t insulted the 19 million fantasy sports players—a number confirmed in August 2011 by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association—with this angry tweet:
“@ArianFoster: 4 those sincerely concerned, I’m doing ok & plan 2 B back by opening day. 4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick”
Yahoo!Sports writer Chris Chase discussed Foster’s tweet in an August 28 article and argued whether there is actually a difference between fantasy owners and Houston fans.
“Arian, you’re a professional athlete. Nobody sincerely cares about you; they care about your performance. It’s great that you’re planning to be back for Week 1. Most people would agree,” Chase said in the article. “They do so because you’re a great running back who gives a team, whether it be the Texans or a not-so-cleverly-named fantasy squad, a better chance to win, not because you seem like a nice guy in real life.”
Although I do tend to grow emotionally attached to my favorite fantasy players, I completely agree with Chase. What makes me sick for rooting for individual players to do well, as opposed to a whole team?
I’m guessing Foster thinks we only care because of the money we put into the fantasy pot, without considering how much fantasy football does for the real sport. Last year, Foster broke out with 1,016 rushing yards and 16 TDs. Without fantasy football, the only people who would have cared were Houston fans.
If 19 million people play fantasy football last year, it’s safe to assume at least 1 million people owned Foster. If we break it down to 10-person leagues, there would be 1.9 million Foster owners. We can’t disregard bigger leagues or those who own Foster in multiple leagues, so I think 1 million is a nice estimate.
Many of his fantasy fans might not care about him if they didn’t own him this year, but I am certain that he acquired some genuine fans simply by putting up major fantasy points last year.
What else will fantasy football do for the NFL? Perhaps players will start getting bonuses based on their draft average. There is no doubt that fantasy football has made big money for the real thing. A Washington Post article from 2006 reported NFL.com entering into a $600 million deal with Sprint influenced by fantasy football.
And that was in 2006, when only 10 million people were reportedly involved with fantasy sports. Five years and 9 million people later… who knows what could happen?
So is there some truth to Foster’s tweet? Are we fantasy owners “sick” for rooting for players because we have something to gain other than the satisfaction of “our” team winning? Although the Bucs are “our” team here, they aren’t “my” team the way The Titanosaurs are.
Or is Foster tweeting carelessly, isolating the potential fans he’d gain by recognizing fantasy football’s influence? I’d love some feedback on this one.