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This week The Locker Room is bringing you the first installment of a four-part series on Fantasy Sports . . .


Part I: Fantasy Sports for "Dummies"  

What is Fantasy Sports? Who are you, Fantasy Spin-Doctor? Why should I listen to you? 

Fantasy Sports is simply when you pretend to be an "owner" of a sports franchise. The main purpose is to make watching sports more fun. You are the owner and the General Manager. You make all the decisions, unless you are a co-owner with someone else (we'll cover that later). Decisions like who to have on your team, who will play, who to trade, etc., are all yours. In this world, you run the show. The players don't have to be of the same team. In fact, most owners don't want too many players from the same team. There is some sort of scoring system where you get "points" from each player on your team. You total points for your players and rank them against the other folks in your league to determine a winner.

Sound fun yet? Oh, add some money and some bragging rights and it's suddenly now VERY FUN! 


Sounds like it's probably all guys?  

Sure, the majority of Fantasy Sports owners are guys, but there are an increasing number of female owners, too. I have two female owners in my main Fantasy football league. 

Let me tell you about my Fantasy resume. I have been participating in Fantasy Sports for eight years. I have been the Commissioner of four leagues (three football, one baseball), Co-commish in three (baseball, football, and stock market) and a participant in four other leagues (basketball, baseball, and two football). I have won five championships and been runner-up in three more. I started out as an ordinary sports fan. Let's just say, "I've been around the block." Not that block, the other block!

The proliferation of Fantasy Sports has in some ways changed the way we watch sports and how sports are presented. Have you noticed that every sports program has some sort of "crawl" or sports ticker at the bottom of the screen? Game breaks or updates every half-hour is definitely NOT good enough anymore. Of course, as with everything else, the Big Three networks provide the least amount of info. They lag behind the cable-based sports-only networks such as ESPN, ESPN2 (a.k.a. "the Deuce"), Fox SportsNet, and even CNN/SI. 

Most of the innovation we see, such as the tickers and constant game boxes up in the corner of the screen, came from these cable networks. Can you remember what watching sports was like without pitch counts, time outs remaining, player stats, and other graphics constantly being updated? It's almost back to the BR days--Before Remotes. Oh, the humanity! (As my nephews have asked, "Was there really a time before remotes?") Look for this trend to continue as the "best and brightest" of the media folks continue to end up at the cable sports networks. Fan Spin: depend on the sports networks for your Fantasy sports info if you want to stay informed, forget the Big Three. 

Among the best things to happen to Fantasy Sports are the Internet and computer. You can click on several different sources and get up-to-date, reliable news and stats almost instantly. You can even get commentary, which I personally think is a DISADVANTAGE--but that's a whole other story. 


So, do you want to get started?  

There are three things that you need: money, interest in a sport, and friends. A TV and a computer are optional, but they certainly make life easier.

Oh, you don't have a lot of money? OK, there are leagues that just play for pride or bragging rights. What? You don't have any friends, either? I will spare you the harassment--GIVE ME YOUR LUNCH MONEY, SQUIRT! Sorry, I couldn't resist. You can play Fantasy Sports without actually having any friends, though I think it's more fun knowing the saps that you took the dough from. There is a slew of fantasy leagues online you can join. So, you're off the hook on the "friends" requirement. Really all you need is a hearty interest in a sport. And that one is negotiable, too. There are even Fantasy stock market games for folks that are not athletically inclined. 

Some choose to co-own a team with a friend. This helps defray the cost of a league and/or to help make decisions if you are a little green to the whole Fantasy deal. You also get someone to blame for all your bad moves. However, co-owning a team is sometimes more of a hassle than what it is worth. Then again, I'm more experienced. If the cost is what forces you to co-own, find another league that doesn't cost as much money--they're everywhere. 


Still don't get it? All right, already. Here's the nitty-gritty. 

Pick a sport. As far as Fantasy leagues, football has become the most popular sport and baseball has the oldest leagues. You don't have to stop there, you can choose from basketball (both pro & college), golf, hockey, tennis, auto racing. Pick the sport that you like or whatever is in season.

Pick a league. Make a league with your so-called friends or co-workers. If not, join a league online.

Choose a scoring system. If you go with an online league, they do it for you. There are many sites that you can swipe a set of scoring rules from--look around. You will also have to find a way to compile the stats. Again, shop around. There are many sites and software packages that do it. Some are even free. 

Pick your players. This is usually one of the most fun parts. Schedule a draft at someone's house or a local establishment. Some leagues choose players like the professional leagues, one player at a time. Some teams have an auction or bid style selection, where each team has a set amount of "fantasy" money to spend. Online leagues mostly go with an online draft. Their sites will tell you more about it.

Sit back and watch the games. Remember not to just root for your players, but you get to root against your opponents' players, too. Have fun!


How much time do I have to put into this Fantasy stuff?

As with anything else in life, don't get in over your head. Time commitment varies by league. Some are more complex than other leagues. It is much like going to Vegas. You don't walk up to the high roller's table your first time. Start slowly and work your way up to the highly complex, competitive leagues. Be wary of slick salesmen (friends) trying to push you into a league while you are still learning. Using the Vegas example, the high rollers don't ask you to play unless they can take your money. 

Not sure you're comfortable with money leagues? No problem. There are plenty of leagues that play for pride. Again, the main thing is to have fun. Before you know it, you'll be hooked!



Here are some terms you might want to know. They are mentioned regularly in relation to particular sport Fantasy leagues. If you can't find a Fan term in this list and would like to know what it means, send an email to get it defined.

Auction: A method of choosing players where each team is limited to a defined sum of Fantasy "money" to choose or "buy" players in an auction setting. There are no limits to the amount that can be bid (unless specified by the league) or how many players can be bought in successive auctions but teams must buy all their players with this limited amount of money. Also known as "Bid" style.

Breakout year: The year that a player emerges as a star or big numbers producer. Typically this isn't apparent until it is happening.

Draft: A method of choosing players where each team is given a particular draft order or position for which the team may choose one player per round. No other team can choose until it is their turn. [See also Serpentine]

Fantasy scoring: A method of scoring where each statistic is given a defined point value. For example, touchdowns are worth 6 points.

Head-to-Head: A type of league where teams are matched against another team each week to get more points for that week than their opponent, highest score wins. Won-loss records are more important than cumulative stats.

Hot Stove: Major League Baseball 

Rotisserie scoring: a) a method for cooking chicken; b) a scoring system that is based on rankings team based on their total points in a particular statistical category; mostly used in baseball leagues. Also know as "roti."

Senior Circuit: The National League (or NL); the NL is the older of the two major leagues. The other league is the American League (or AL). 

Serpentine: (or Serpentine Method) A draft method that snakes through the draft rounds so that no team has distinct advantage based on draft position. The draft's first round order is determined usually by chance (dice, pick from a hat) or based on the previous year's final standings. All subsequent rounds are dependent on the first round then reverse the order (i.e., team 1 through team 10 for round #1, 10 through 1 for round #2, 1 through 10 for round #3, etc.).

Sleepers: Relatively unknown players, usually first or second year players, that are predicted to have a big year. 

Statistical Category: Based on the real sport's scoring and stats. For example, in baseball homeruns are a category, base hits are another, etc.; in football, touchdowns are a category, rushing yardage is another, etc.

Locker Room is written by Michael Skordeles

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