Fantasy Football: Why Do People Enjoy Them?

Fantasy sports is one of the ways people go and enjoy the game besides watching the game itself. I, for example, am a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) player. Besides that, I’ve also dabbled in some Fantasy UEFA Champions League, Fantasy Bundesliga, and even Fantasy Formula 1. I’ve been playing FPL probably since the 2015/2016 or the 2016/2017 season. It’s not what you call a veteran considering there are a lot of people that have been playing even before FPL has their own app. As I got absorbed more and more into the world of FPL, one question sticks in the back of my head: why do people enjoy this pastime?

To find out, I threw a tweet and an Instagram story to whoever was reading just to ask them why they play. The answers quite vary. One says that it’s a conversation topic with friends who have also played. One says that it’s a way of letting off steam when his favorite team plays badly. One says it’s because he loves the Premier League. One compares it to the joy of playing billiard/pool. One says that he plays because there’s a lot of people around him that play. One says that it’s a way to keep up with the Premier League matches and a FOMO feeling that his friends play makes him do it too.

When I was reading the responses and answers, I find myself questioning even more about why people get into FPL. All of these answers have no right or wrong value in them. Yet somehow I gravitated towards the first part of the last answer, and it seems that it’s somewhat part of the reason why I play FPL as well: Fantasy Premier League is a way for me to keep up with the competition itself. But is that the definitive answer?

I do realize that it was just a simple tweet and IG story, and all of the respondents were people that I know play FPL. Yet I still feel like it doesn’t answer my question. When I decided to write this article, I, for once, didn’t know what this writing will become. Will it be just a cliffhanger of a question to which I myself couldn’t answer, or will it be an insight into why people enjoy FPL. Two things that I can take away as the silver lining between all the answers is that people are playing FPL as a way to connect even more to the Premier League in general and that it’s a pastime that people do just because.

An upside that I do feel from playing FPL is that it motivates me to actually watch the matches. Not just watching my favorite club’s matches, but also the matches where my fantasy line-up players take part in. This then provides a broader sense of what other teams in the league look like and makes my subscription to the streaming service actually worthwhile. Another upside is I get to learn about football statistics: what they mean, how important they are, and why certain players might stand out among others even when they’re not typically the most recognized players in the league amongst casual viewers.

So are these upsides then becomes an epiphany and answer to why I play FPL? Maybe. Does the answers in a few paragraphs above also answers the question of “why”? Yes. Whatever reason one plays and enjoys Fantasy Premier League, or fantasy football in general, or even fantasy sports as a whole, I should concede that there will not be one answer that fits all.

Thank you for reading, trust no one, and see you in the next post.

Bachelor's degree in International Relations from Universitas Indonesia. Football. Cars. Pop culture. Current affairs. Personal rants. Random thoughts.