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Fantasy Sports: A Dream Come True or a Social Nightmare?

In case you have never heard of Fantasy Sports before (and there are people who fall into that category) let's start off with a definition of the game. In Fantasy Sports, the players select athletes from professional sports teams to make up their "dream team." Then, as a sports season progresses, those athletes earn points for the players who chose them based on their performance. Whether the name Fantasy Sports comes from the make-believe teams or the ability to pick and choose your favorite players without signing million-dollar contracts, millions of people participate in fantasy sports betting across the country every year. The "hobby" has become so popular that it has spilled over into other areas of entertainment aside from sports.

The rewards for playing Fantasy Sports can be anything from socializing opportunities, bragging rights and increased enthusiasm to monetary gains. In fact, Fantasy Sports is estimated to have a $3 to $4 Billion annual economic impact across the sports industry.

Although Fantasy Sports betting can be a fun way for families, students, co-workers and strangers to interact, some people are worried about its addictive nature. Under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, Fantasy Sports betting is not considered gambling since it depends on the player's knowledge of athletes and sports rather than chance, but it there are considerable drawbacks to the game if it promotes gambling.

In addition to individual personal costs, gambling can wreak a lot of damage on society. According to Sylvia Porter in the "Economic Costs of Compulsive Gambling in the U.S." the average compulsive gambler has debts in excess of $80,000. That debt then contributes to social problems like bankruptcy, embezzlement, family neglect, divorce, theft and other forms of organized crime. Another resource drained by compulsive gambling is time. In spite of all the negative effects created by gambling, most states have legalized the activity. This change in policy is a recent development though so it will be interesting to see what the consequences are.

Fantasy Sports is not an inherently bad past time but, as with many other activities, the consequences of participating depend largely on the individuals involved. If you want to enjoy the game and have fun without loosing too much of your time or money, play smart by setting limits for yourself. With a little self discipline, you can definitely avoid becoming addicted. That said, let the games begin.


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