The History of Fantasty

By: Brianne Dempsey

It’s that time of year again. We’re not watching preseason football to predict this season’s Super Bowl Champion. We’re watching to see what players we think will steal the show and we can sneak in the 5th or 6th round. You got it. It’s Fantasy Football time.

While many of us are scouring the internet for those elusive diamonds in the rough, others are spending money on magazines, watching 4th quarter two minute drills in preseason games, listening to ESPN Radio or other podcasts hoping they catch a name they don’t think anyone else in their league will have heard of come time for the draft.

But can you imagine a time where Fantasy Football existed without all of these tools? Where you actually had to KNOW football to be successful? And the horror- with no internet!

After doing a little research, Fantasy Football can be traced back to 1963 with the establishment of the Greater Oakland Profession Pigskin Prognosticators League. Rosters were two quarterbacks, four halfbacks, two fullbacks, four offensive ends, two kick/punt returners, two field goal kickers, two defensive backs/linebackers and two defensive linemen. Scoring was touch down only. What’s crazy about this? This league still exists!

Due to its difficulty in scoring (remember, no internet), the game was slow to take across the country. I personally know a league that first heard of Fantasy Football in the late 1980s in a little blurb in the back of a gambling magazine and decided to try it out. This is actually the league my father, uncles and their buddies have been participating in for nearly 30 years, so over the years I have heard all of the stories and have gotten to see how Fantasy Football has evolved since they first started.

Until the last 5-8 years, the draft was ALWAYS done in person. I remember when my one uncle moved to the mid-west and would have to phone into the draft each year. And being commissioner actually meant having responsibility beyond clicking a few buttons to set up a league and to collect dues. Commissioners actually had to score each team every week, which also meant settling any scoring disputes. As you can imagine, this league is also point only scoring (meaning safeties, field goals, and extra points on top of touch downs). Scoring was done on Monday and Tuesday mornings based on box scores in the Sports section of the newspaper. There was one draft, plus a supplemental part way through the season. There was (and still isn’t!) free agency, waiver wires, etc. If your QB goes down, you had better hope your second string doesn’t either.

Fantasy Football has come a long way, especially with the advancements in technology. A couple years ago I had simultaneous drafts. I did one on my computer and one on my tablet. 10 years ago that would have been impossible! It’s become so ingrained in our culture, it seems everyone is in at least one league. Hell, they’ve even made a successful sitcom out of our obsession with it.

So break out your magazines, rosters, projections and lucky charms. Draft day is a comin’.

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