Off-field violence injects unwanted reality into fantasy football

Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:43pm EDT
 
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Joe Gallo is not just a fan of National Football League running back Adrian Peterson, he "owns" him, as do thousands of other participants in the world of fantasy football.

That explains why Gallo, a 31-year-old New Yorker who works in public relations, is so chagrined now that it appears Peterson could be out for the rest of the season after being benched by the Minnesota Vikings while he faces allegations of child abuse.

"I still have Peterson on my bench," Gallo said. "I'm debating whether or not to drop him."

Gallo is among millions of Americans who take part in fantasy football, which involves players building their own teams from NFL rosters and then winning or losing points, depending on how their players perform in real life each week.

It is real life, off-field violence involving players, however, that is putting the NFL under scrutiny and fantasy football may be starting to feel the fallout.

Companies such as Yahoo, Walt Disney's ESPN and CBS, generate millions of dollars in advertising and sponsorship fees for their fantasy sites and programming. Revenue in the fantasy world, where Yahoo and ESPN are market leaders, is expected to grow more than 7 percent a year through 2019 from $1.4 billion this year, according to research firm IBISWorld.

Several NFL teams in the past week have moved to place players on a so-called "exempt list," meaning they are on a paid leave of absence while the cases against them are resolved. On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that rules governing personal conduct will change, signaling a major shift in policy after the league's poor handling of domestic abuse cases.

  Continued...