Fantasy sports leagues engage students in friendly competition

Chance Siess, Contributor

Many students at Black Hills State University participate in fantasy sports leagues. Thomas Hall Resident Assistant Ryan Beck has even based two of his hall events around fantasy leagues, getting his residents to play via the ESPN app. Beck, who recently hosted a hall-wide basketball fantasy draft, said he’s enjoyed playing fantasy sports since 2013. Beck started playing fantasy football with his father after watching him play in a league in 2012. This year will be the first year he has played fantasy basketball.

“I really enjoy the competitiveness and the suspense of doing fantasy football because you never know how each game is going to go and you just really hope that all your players do well each week,” freshman Thomas Hall resident Pepe Headlee said. Headlee has participated in both of Beck’s fantasy drafts, saying that he enjoys the social aspect of fantasy sports. Although he has only done fantasy once prior to coming to BHSU, Headlee said that he enjoyed fantasy football last year and decided to join in on the fun with Beck and other Thomas residents. Like Beck, Headlee also tried fantasy basketball for the first time this year.

Fantasy sports are prevalent in today’s culture. Since the first inception of fantasy football dating back to 1962 and with fantasy baseball taking off in 1980, both according to Britannica, fantasy sports arguably have become a vital part of American sports culture.

Old or young, male or female, professional or amateur, fantasy sports have garnered quite the reach over the years, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 59.3 million people across the United States and Canada play fantasy football.

According to a CNN report from 2015, fantasy sports bring in an average of $1.5 billion per year. Leagues such as DraftKings and FanDuel are responsible for this large number. However, there are many options for people like Beck and Headlee to participate in the excitement for free.

Yahoo, for example, made their own fantasy sports system in 1999 that was free to use. According to, Yahoo still has the largest free fantasy sports game, with sporting networks like ESPN hopping on the bandwagon as well.

Sports leagues, like the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, offer free-to-play programs of their own.

From humble beginnings in the backs of restaurants and bars to becoming the behemoth of an industry it is today, fantasy sports are a great way to pass time and enjoy sports with other fans.

Although it can be a lucrative hobby, it can also be a way to spend quality time with friends who have the same passion for sports, as seen regularly in Thomas Hall.