By Owen Musgrove,
A lunchtime trade used to consist of an apple for a Twinkie. Now, for many Davis High students, trading at lunch involves swapping players from their fantasy line-ups.
Fantasy sports have exploded nationwide: according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the number of players has increased from 12 million in 2005 to 56 million in 2015.
The premise is relatively straightforward–online games allow sports fans to assemble fake teams of real players. Teams earn points based on the statistical performances of the players. Most programs are fee-based with the option to win or lose money, while others are just for recreation.
Following the national trend, DHS students are also joining leagues and competing for money and bragging rights.
At DHS, many students play for the fun of it.
“I like to play fantasy sports because I like watching sports anyway, and fantasy sports give you more to root for and care about when you’re watching,” sophomore Nate Soeth said.
Sophomore Cole Koeberer plays “to win, duh.” Koeberer is an fantasy sports participant and is part of an online league with 12 fellow DHS students.
For UC Davis law student Andrew Vontz, fantasy sports has been a pastime for more than 10 years.
“I have played fantasy sports since I was 14, starting off with Yahoo’s Baseball site,” Vontz explained. “I have played ever since.”
Vontz is the commissioner of his fantasy football league at UCD and has seen the sport grow and become more competitive.
“I still win more often than not, but leagues have become much more competitive. I know many friends who aren’t even big football fans who enjoy playing fantasy sports, and some of them are surprisingly good,” he said.
Men’s JV basketball coach Michael Leahy says most of his players take part in fantasy sports.
“It seems to be a constant source of conversation before or after practice. Usually guys will have their phones out checking stats and scores,” Leahy said.
Leahy agrees that having an understanding of the game can help one’s chance of winning, but he doesn’t think it captures the nuances of the game. Leahy enjoys playing personally for the shenanigans and the bonding opportunity among friends.
“My favorite part about fantasy and the real reason I play is all the trash talk, inside jokes and ‘in-depth analysis’ my buddies share. We blow up our group message all day on Sunday about the games and outcomes. It keeps us connected even though we live all over the country,” Leahy said.