Online gamers gearing up for fantasy football season

All across the United States, football fans are gearing up for a new season. While most fans simply flop down on their couches for college and pro games every week, an ever-increasing number of fans take part in interactive versions of America’s true favorite pastime.

Many choose to plunk down $50 for the newest version of EA Sports’ legendary John Madden Football. But a lot of football fans have decided to take part in something that might seem a little foreign to them. Most people would not think rabid football fans and EverQuest junkies would have a thing in common, but they do in one respect: an online arena.

Fantasy Football leagues have become a companion for armchair quarterbacks looking for an interactive fix.

Fantasy football players have to watch stats a lot more than the average Madden player, which adds a new dynamic to the game. Players have to check stats and consistently rotate players to keep their team on top.

The craze has hit GSU students, as many could be spotted in campus computer labs conducting their own “fantasy draft.” The fantasy draft runs in similar fashion to the actual NFL draft, as players select players from a pool of active NFL players. The entire process has been described as everything from “living out a childhood dream of owning a team” to “having an extension of the franchise mode in the Madden football game.”

After drafting a team consisting of a QB, running back, wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a team defense, a player must follow each player’s stats and swap out starting players to gain points. The points are given out based on game performance, and the team with the highest point total wins.

Most fantasy leagues are free to join, and some even offer prizes that range from cash to Super Bowl tickets. The biggest prize of all seems to be the bragging rights that winner gets to flaunt for an entire year.

That simple pleasure has drawn thousands of online quarterbacks to the various leagues that are conducted on several Web sites. ESPN, Yahoo, Fox Sports, NFL.com, and CBS host some of the most popular of these leagues, and the number of host web sites grows with each year. Online fantasy leagues have become popular to the point that in a few years, video games such as Madden will feature fully functional online fantasy leagues to accompany their popular game franchise.