History of Fantasy Sports

December 1, 2015
History of Fantasy Sports December 3, 2015 Fantasy Sport

history of fantasy sportsEach fantasy sport has an exciting, eventful, and colorful story.

Enthusiasts of different fantasy sports will tell different stories when asked about history, but it should be borne in mind that each story is true as it deals with a different sport.

For example, a fantasy football fan will tell the history of only fantasy football and will not bother about facts related to other fantasy sports.

Earliest Fantasy Sports

The concept of creating a roster of players and earning points based on their real performance dates back to slightly after the Second World War. The earliest reports of fantasy sports make mention of Wilfred ‘Bill’ Winkenbach, a co-owner of the Oakland Raiders, who created a rulebook for fantasy golf in the late fifties. In the early sixties, he created the first fantasy football league and called it the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL).

The first fantasy baseball league is believed to have been created in 1960 in Boston. The credit of starting “Baseball Seminars,” where baseball fans created winning rosters of baseball players goes to William Gamson. The concept of “Baseball Seminars” was later adopted by the University of Michigan, and that was where Daniel Okrent, a sportswriter, learned the game and created the world’s first fantasy baseball league. He played the game with a group of friends and kept track of baseball statistics through a magazine called “The Sporting News.”

Fantasy Sports in the Eighties

Although fantasy baseball gained great popularity in the early eighties, fantasy football still hadn’t taken off. Cliff Charpentier and Tom Kane Jr. co-authored “The Fantasy Football Digest” in 1984, in which they had explained fantasy football rules. The game was then popularized through various magazines.

A magazine called “Fantasy Sports” began covering issues related to multiple fantasy sports in 1989. And in 1992, a weekly fantasy baseball column was started by USA Today. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) was launched in 1999, and fantasy sports was put well on the way to becoming the billion-dollar industry it currently is.

Fantasy Sports Today

Professional sports leagues did not like fantasy sports till a study revealed that playing fantasy sports led to an increased interest in viewing sports channels. In 2002, the National Football League (NFL) broadcast its first fantasy football commercials. More and more people began getting interested in fantasy sports, and magazines and newspapers started hiring writers specializing in fantasy sports.

The rising popularity of fantasy sports has led to channels such as the ESPN broadcasting shows dealing exclusively with fantasy sports. Magazines devoted entirely to fantasy sports have been released, and existing major sports magazines began devoting separate issues to the subject.

Today, there are fantasy leagues for almost every sport under the sun, from football to MMA to car racing. Modern fantasy sports contests also include celebrity events, reality TV shows, politics, and entertainment shows.