When fantasy beganWith the multi-billion dollar industry known as fantasy football soon to kick off, I feel it’s important to look back and remember our fantasy forefathers.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
With the multi-billion dollar industry known as fantasy football soon to kick off, I feel it’s important to look back and remember our fantasy forefathers.
Daniel Okrent, Lee Eisenberg, Rob Fleder. Those names likely mean nothing to you and why should they?
It’s simple: They were on the ground floor in creating the first fantasy sports league in 1979 — The Rotisserie League. Their big names back then where Mike Schmidt and Larry Bowa as the league was made up of die-hard Phillies fans.
Named after a now-defunct restaurant on 52nd Street in New York, The Rotisserie League blazed the trail for millions of men and women that want to prove to their friends that they are the smartest sports fan.
The Rotisserie League was a baseball league with only National League players. It was also the first ever auction-style draft. It was based on what now are considered the staple stats of fantasy baseball.
Okrent even created a stat category, something called WHIP. A ratio of walks and hits to innings pitched.
He created the rules of the game that has spawned numerous variations to everything from bass fishing to the English Premier League.
Eisenberg was a ruthless manager willing to trade physical goods for the imaginary rights to players. Fleder spent a cool $100 when drafting his outfield. Okrent never won a title.
The brain child of Okrent, a writer and editor, the game was never intended to ruin marriages and cost simple-minded fans hundreds of dollars every year. But as any fantasy player knows that has become the nature of the beast.
The original sports geeks, these men (and one woman) never did fully cash in on the empire they created. Instead they became legends to legions of dedicated sports dweebs like myself. Instead the winner got drenched with a Yoo-hoo.
As I type this, the shadow of the Throlson Trophy looms over my desk, a small testament to my great NFL fantasy mind.
I can recall years past in the World B. Free League for the NBA when Brandon Roy’s knee shut down, Eric Gordon was a bust and Kevin Durant proved invaluable.
This baseball season I reached for Ryan Braun, grabbed Mark Trumbo off waivers and gambled on Edwin Encarnacion.
Even with the preseason looming I’ve read Bill Barnwell’s analytics on Grantland and listened to Paul Charchian on KFAN wax and pine about the next big sleeper.
Hi, my name is Ben and I have a fantasy sports addiction.
But that’s alright I know I’m not alone. I filled up one of my football leagues in a matter of minutes a few weeks ago. I’ll probably join a few more as I continue to scratch the NFL bug.
Okrent started all of this with a simple game amongst friends. Since then it has spread like the plague.
I have a hard time trying to find a sports fan that doesn’t dabble in at least one fantasy league. It’s become part of the culture of sports.
In some respects it has added to the decay of fandom just as much. It’s painful to watch my Packers win and at the same time cringing every time Greg Jennings gets a catch instead of Jordy Nelson.
So next time there’s a difficult draft choice, or you root against your favorite team, thank Okrent and that original Rotisserie League. He’s damned us all.
Ben Rodgers is a news writer at the Jamestown Sun and frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner