Fantasy Football Costs Employers $13 Billion Dollars And It’s Your Fault


Photo by Parker Anderson

A study made by the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas states that fantasy football costs companies all around the United States $13.4 in lost productivity per NFL season.

If you are thinking now that is not remotely possible, think again and imagine you are a fantasy football enthusiast working in a day-in-and-day-out office eight hours per day and five days per week. If your boss pays you $15 per hour and you spend every day at least 20 minutes researching teams matchups, checking out injured players and studying thoroughly the stats of your favorite running-back, that means every week your boss is paying you $25 for just sucking in the fantasy football league you run with your football-geeky friends.

Now let’s dig a bit more into the productivity and the fantasy football thing.

What Is Fantasy Football?

Fantasy Football is a statistical game about American football –the big league is the NFL– and you can play it right from your comfy sofa or odious office chair. While real football players compete against each other in the fields spread coast to coast all over North America trying to score epic touchdowns, you fantasize and draft and select and follow stats trying to beat your mates in a local fantasy football league.

It is believed that modern fantasy football appeared in 1962 thanks to Wilfred “Bill the Gill” Winkenbach, a businessman from Oakland and also limited partner in the Oakland Raiders. In a hotel room, he and writers Scotty Stirling and George Ross created the rules and schemes of the fantasy game where football fans could manage fantasy rosters and compete to get points depends on the game stats and get the fantasy win. The first fantasy football league was named “the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League.” And knowing now that name it is not a mystery why the fantasy football business is such a big thing nowadays.

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For years, the popularity of fantasy football grew slowly, but after 1997, it became an unstoppable phenomenon. Now all major sports media websites run competing fantasy football hosting websites, and it is estimated (according to the FSTA) that 25.8 million people in the United States are regular fantasy football players. And the number will probably keep increasing –there is even a popular TV show focused on fantasy football called “The League”.

$13 Billion In Lost Productivity?

$13 billion? Really? And how the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas had come up with the hard-to-swallow number?

They thought:

  • $24.45 is the average hourly earning for the country’s 117 million workers on private nonfarm payrolls.
  • A 59 percent employment rate (real employent-to-population data while the study was being done) among the 31 million working-age Americans who play fantasy sports (based on Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s statistics) results in 18.3 million employees who fantasize at one moment or another about sports (not only football).
  • It is unknown how many hours exactly fantasy football players spend during work, but let’s consider they spend two hours per week in the office fantasyfootballing (according to the FSTA, the average player spends three hours per week just managing his team and nine reading or watching fantasy sports stuff).
  • $895 million per week and the typical fantasy football season consists of 15 weeks = $13.4 billion per year.

Another fact to get the right perspective:

  • Another study made by the same company in 2012 indicated that fantasy football was costing employers $6.5 billion per year.

In other words:

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  • There are a lot of unproductive employees out there right now.

 Three Fun Opinions From The Web About Productivity And Fantasy Football

  • Philip Moglen (Branch Trimmer) said: “Yeah, but can you put a multi-billion-dollar price on fun?”
  • Marcie Finney (Teaching Assistant) said: “Given that the average corporate employee works eight uninterrupted hours a day, this is shocking.”
  • Vincent Chandler (Bike Rack Installer) said: “Yeah, but working when I could be managing my fantasy team probably costs me two or three wins, so we’re even.”

Should Bosses Freak Out?

Absolutely not.

“We are not trying to demonize fantasy football. It is important to understand that there are more distractions than ever in today’s workplace. If it’s not fantasy football, it’s the latest Hollywood gossip, shopping on Amazon, or checking Facebook,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

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“So, what’s the point of this non-scientific study? It is simply to acknowledge that fantasy football is a massively popular phenomenon that cannot be ignored. No one can deny that it is a common source of workplace chatter around water coolers and lunch tables throughout the season. While it’s arguable as to whether fantasy sports participation impacts the bottom line, IT departments are very likely to see a dip in the company internet quality as bandwidth is devoted to researching players, making trades and scanning the waiver wire,” he added.

Anyway, to say that fantasy football costs $13 billion in lost productivity is quite adventurous. And how much money costs the coffee and smoking breaks, the trips to the bathroom, the chat with the pretty co-worker in the opposite table?

The firm responsible of the study also states that companies would face productivity problems if they shut down the fantasy football joy, causing moral problems among the employees.

Fantasy Football Can Also Rise Productivity In The Office

Fantasy football is not only fun but it can also rise the company’s productivity.

What’s better that seeing your very boss creating himself a company fantasy league for all the co-workers to get involved and build morale and camaraderie?

Chris Jacobi, chief executive of KP Staffing and Search, agrees: “I believe strong leaders should always take a sincere interest in activities of their team outside of the normal business week. It builds teamwork, trust, loyalty and, ultimately better, service to our clientele.”

Are you listen, corporate America? Let’s create real teams by creating fake teams.

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