When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on CNBC in January 2014, he was asked about the leagues aversion to gambling but acceptance of fantasy sports. Goodell could have taken many roads here, but went down the most dangerous path in his justification for the juxtaposition saying “We see families getting together. It’s not about wagering. They’re competing against one another.”
Perhaps Goodell was referencing season long fantasy, which, in theory could be done with nothing staked nothing gained except pride and bragging rights. One wonders if he thought about the effect his words would have in relation to the world of daily fantasy sports?
A disturbing trend has emerged in the recent days where it appears daily fantasy advocates are also advocating that children should play along with their parents. FanDuel has a new anthem for daily fantasy sports, in which children are displayed prominently throughout the accompanying commercial. They indirectly advertise on Sports Illustrated for Kids, a publication I remember fondly from my youth for the sheet of cards you would so carefully protect within the magazine. That magazine which brought us the first ever Tiger Woods rookie card 20 years ago is now intent on pushing daily fantasy sports upon their readers.
A recent article by “Kid Reporter” Isabel Gomez tells the story of her fantasy football league of 2014, a group of 6th grade boys from her street. She’s now moved onto a league with 11-12 year old girls from her class. All good fun until you scroll down to the accompanying image, one of a recent FanDuel winner holding his giant, two million dollar check. The dream is being sold at far too young of an age. Whether or not FanDuel is a willing participant this writer does not know, but if they are not, they should take notice at the harm being done to their brand.
It’s almost as though the media companies themselves have a vested interest in seeing daily fantasy succeed, so much so that they are willing to expose children to an activity 6 US States deem as gambling. ESPNW published an article on September 9th. In it, under the headline “Playing Daily Fantasy Sports With The Kids Is The New ‘Having a Catch’”, the writer Dan Shanoff explains how he plays daily fantasy with his 9 year old son, and likens it to a bonding experience.
What Shanoff doesn’t appear to understand is that playing fantasy sports with his son, and then openly encouraging others to do the same is a net negative for the industry as a whole. If such trends continue, legislative bodies may take action to protect the children. The most likely action would be to outlaw daily fantasy sports much like they did with sports betting and poker, two activities that were driven underground in large part because of the effects the two hobbies could have on an impressionable mind.