Fantasy Football: Is It Worth It?
If you’re a die-hard football fan, chances are you’ve experimented with the virtual football team management exercise known as fantasy football. It can be addicting and many spend hours each week selecting players trying to build the most successful teams.
But there comes a point when too much time invested in fantasy football can become detrimental to your finances and performance at work. If you’re checking your team lineups while sending out emails, can you really be productive at your job? And is the opportunity cost too high – would your time be better served starting a business or spending time with family?
MainStreet posed those questions to Fantasy Football fans to get an idea of the pros and cons of living in that fantasy world at work.
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CON: Fantasy Football Is Addictive
You could make the same argument against fantasy football as you can about social media sites like Facebook and Twitter – that workers spend way too much time on those sites. But fantasy football seems to consume the schedules of many of its users in a way that nothing else does.
So how much is too much? Phillip Cortez, who has been in the same fantasy league for 15 years, spends 10-15 hours per week on the game. And during the playoffs, he spends even more time watching the lineups and keeping track of his team’s success. Indeed virtual sporting platforms from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS attract millions of users and billions of dollars in revenue, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, so his case does not appear to be unique.
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PRO: You Can Win Money
Some leagues win money – but is it worth it? Cortez says yes.
“I have only taken home a third place prize of a few hundred dollars, but playing is very much worth it.”
Cortez’s league, C Monkeys, charges a fee of $100 to enter, a hefty fee when the scarce prizes on offer amount to only a few hundred dollars.
Like with Cortez case, given the amount of hours needed to excel in fantasy football and the small financial rewards that are available, many users play for passion rather than profit.
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PRO: It's a Social Activity
One of the main benefits of playing fantasy football, says Cortez, is how it facilitates staying in touch with friends.
“I have personally benefited from being a part of this league because it has allowed me to stay connected to guys I met in my late teens, some of whom are halfway around the world. During the last 15 years, our lives have changed tremendously - but fantasy football has allowed us to stay connected to each other.”
Not every benefit has to be financial. There’s something to be said about investing time in something that spawns long-lasting friendships.
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CON: You Pay a Hefty Opportunity Cost
What if you added a few more hours to your workweek instead of playing fantasy football? Your boss would be impressed, as you would earn the company more money, and you could be considered for a promotion as a result.
Or what if you stayed off your computer to spend more time with your family? Or used the time to brainstorm business ideas or passions you’ve long dreamed of pursuing? These are both opportunity costs for spending (wasting?) time on fantasy football.
While there’s no way to precisely quantify the benefits of using your time wisely rather than playing virtual sports management, if there are goals you’ve been aiming for, allocating many hours each week to fantasy football will likely hurt your ability to realize those goals.
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CON: Performance at Work Suffers
If you’re on fantasy football at the office and are constantly minimizing the screen when someone walks by your desk, it’s going to be difficult to focus on your work. This can affect your performance, earning capacity and ability to move up in your company. And before you say that there are numerous distractions at work and all of them should be seen in the same light, fantasy football is different. Think of it as stock trading – you constantly have to watch the computer screen and make quick decisions – same with fantasy football.
If you’re noticing your ability to finish tasks and projects at work is diminishing and fantasy football plays a large role during the work day, consider scaling back on the virtual sports management and replacing that time with work – it’s less fun – but at least it puts you in a better position to either earn more money or get a promotion.
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PRO: You Develop Thinking Skills
According to Michael Cavendish, a lawyer and business owner, playing fantasy football does have some innate value in that it encourages strategic thinking. “An active and competitive league sharpens a player's skills in bargaining, allocating assets and medium and long range planning. A worker who spends a small amount of time each week playing fantasy football may perform better at certain work tasks because of this mental and emotional conditioning.”
This is certainly a valid argument, meaning that there are just as many pros as there are cons to fantasy football. Perhaps the conclusion, then, can be found in the adage “everything is good in moderation.”
-Scott Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, Fox News, ABC News and CBS. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.
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