Fantasy football phenom

By: John Miller

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, nearly 60 million people play fantasy sports annually. This doubled the number of people who played in 2010.

Some people play fantasy sports for fun. For others, such as former MSUM student Jeremy Bontjes, fantasy sports is a lifestyle, especially football. Bontjes, a lifelong sports fan, has been participating in fantasy football for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve been a huge sports fan my entire life and have followed them very closely,” Bontjes said. “My friends had the same interest as me, so we started doing leagues on ESPN.”

A common route for casual fantasy football players is to do a free league through a site such as ESPN. Some might even throw in a couple dollars to create a prize pool for the winner.

Bontjes is no casual player. He is a member of six leagues this year, with buy-ins ranging from $25 to $75, totaling an investment of $230.

Along with his season-long fantasy leagues, Bontjes also participates in daily fantasy football leagues. He throws down about $20 per week on DraftKings, which comes out to $320 for the entirety of the NFL season.

Typically, Bontjes finishes at or near the top of his leagues, allowing him to make a profit. The most he has won in a single league is $200, and the most he’s won in an entire season exceeds $300.

For Bontjes, wagering on something he loves and getting to do it with his friends are the most enjoyable aspects of fantasy football.

“The thought of winning money by doing something I enjoy is one of my favorite things about fantasy,” Bontjes said. “Talking smack with my friends might be the best part.

The Sunday ritual

NFL Sunday begins at noon. Bontjes is reclined on his living room couch alternating from screen to screen, watching the live games and keeping tabs on his fantasy teams.

Most of the games are played at noon. On his TV, Bontjes is paging back and forth between the two games that are available for him to watch. On his laptop, Bontjes has all six of his fantasy matchups open. Depending on which players of his are currently on the field, he switches between teams to follow the play-by-play action.

“When you play fantasy football, every single play of each game can have an impact on the result of your match,” Bontjes said. “I like to keep up with each game and see how players are doing at the time.”

To the casual player, or the diehard fantasy guru, fantasy football can become a part of anyone’s Sunday routine.

“Fantasy football allows people to interact with friends,” Bontjes said. “You can take it as serious as you want and keep up with one of the best sports in the world.”

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