Is there anything the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t touch? From the five-star restaurant in Manhattan to that corner deli to the random sushi house along your street, the pandemic didn’t leave anything untouched. So ingrained is the pandemic into our every being that it didn’t even let fantasy sports off the hook. As sports teams postponed games and virus-infected players, coaches, and staff, the pandemic let everyone know it is here to stay for the time being.
Most noticeable, it has affected the way fantasy sports teams are being played. Fantasy football, in particular, is a billion-dollar business. Statista said that in North America, more than 60 million people are playing fantasy sports—baseball, football, basketball, hockey. You name it, and someone’s involved in it in the fantasy side of things. The entire industry is worth $7.2 billion, with 40 million of those playing fantasy football. This is no small matter.
For many, it seems such a trivial thing to pursue. The pandemic is wreaking havoc on many families, industries, governments, and economies. Why should anyone be concerned that the pandemic is also impacting fantasy sports?
It’s the Real Deal
Fantasy sports work like this: the participants draft players (real players) from across the sports to their virtual teams. The better these players play in real games, the more points they will bring to your fantasy team. Basically, you act as the general manager of the team. By the end of the season, any fantasy team that wins the most points gets the coveted trophy.
This means that this isn’t just a game of chance. Participants have to read sports news, follow injury updates, and keep up with stats and schedules to do well. In pre-Covid days, it’s complex enough to follow sports teams. But in a pandemic? The task can be arduous, not to mention impossible, since games are being postponed left and right.
So, why exactly are people into fantasy sports? For many, it is a form of escape. Even amid a pandemic, focusing your attention on the sports you love to watch can be exhilarating. It may even feel like everything is normal since you’re watching your favorite players win as many points for your fantasy team.
This is a form of entertainment for many people. They are entertained and challenged by the fact that they have no control over their teams. They can only hope that their drafted players will win them points.
How COVID Is Making Fantasy Sports Companies Lose Money
The fantasy sports industry is almost at its peak when governments shut down games in April. From March to August 2019, the industry raked in $1 million every month. From September to December 2019, it collected more than double its revenue from the last four months since every sport is in full swing by this time.
But by the start of 2020, revenues for fantasy sports businesses are declining. By March and April, it reached an all-time low since games have been postponed or canceled. This, of course, has severely affected not only those who rely on this industry for their wages but also those who need it for its entertainment value.
Teams are back playing on the field again, though some disruptions when players come into close contact with COVID patients. Much of those who own fantasy sports teams have to adjust to the new schedule, too. The National Basketball Association, for example, restarted their season in December after crowning the new champions two months before.
With a shortened trading period, this meant that fantasy sports team owners also need to restart their season earlier than usual. There is much pressure, too, for trading players and waiting for their improvements from the various injuries that ail them the past months. More than that, these “general managers” have to be at peace with the knowledge that if these players expose themselves to COVID positive patients, they also lose the chance of earning points for the games they have to sit on.
The pandemic left nothing untouched. Who knew that it could even knock fantasy sports teams from their lofty perches? It even did so at a time when the industry is in full swing. For the most part, an industry that has been quietly sitting on the sidelines is suddenly thrust into the unknown.
As its players blindly navigate a new normal in sports, the industry itself struggles with the low revenues and the ever-changing rules in a COVID-impacted world. Who knows what the new normal will bring? With the way things are going, the future is strong and bright since players are willing to do their part in ensuring a thriving fantasy sports business.