That explains why Gallo, a 31-year-old New Yorker who works in
public relations, is so chagrined now that it appears Peterson could
be out for the rest of the season after being benched by the
Minnesota Vikings while he faces allegations of child abuse.
"I still have Peterson on my bench," Gallo said. "I'm debating
whether or not to drop him."
Gallo is among millions of Americans who take part in fantasy
football, which involves players building their own teams from NFL
rosters and then winning or losing points, depending on how their
players perform in real life each week.
It is real life, off-field violence involving players, however, that
is putting the NFL under scrutiny and fantasy football may be
starting to feel the fallout.
Companies such as Yahoo, Walt Disney's ESPN and CBS, generate
millions of dollars in advertising and sponsorship fees for their
fantasy sites and programming. Revenue in the fantasy world, where
Yahoo and ESPN are market leaders, is expected to grow more than 7
percent a year through 2019 from $1.4 billion this year, according
to research firm IBISWorld.
Several NFL teams in the past week have moved to place players on a
so-called "exempt list," meaning they are on a paid leave of absence
while the cases against them are resolved.
On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that rules governing
personal conduct will change, signaling a major shift in policy
after the league's poor handling of domestic abuse cases.
More than 41 million people play fantasy sports in the United States
and Canada, spending an average of $111 a year on their teams
through entry fees, subscriptions to web sites providing information
and other related costs, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade
Association. Football is the most popular fantasy sport in North
Fantasy football aficionados are not expected to turn against pro
football itself, but as their players fall out of real-world rosters
and their fantasy teams are diminished, they may lose interest in
their fantasy leagues, analysts said.
George Leimer, vice president of ESPN Fantasy Products, said the NFL
scandals have not affected their fantasy football game "in any
"If you are a fantasy team owner, the reason that a player is unable
to perform, due to injury or suspension or otherwise, that really
doesn’t matter," Leimer said in an email. "Participation in our game
continues to grow."
[to top of second column]
Daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel said its growth has not slowed
and the number of players on its web site continues to increase on a
weekly basis. Yahoo and CBS Sports declined to comment on the
Some fantasy players may be turned off by domestic violence
allegations against NFL players, which could prompt them to spend
less time on their teams or to stop playing altogether, said Robert
Boland, a sports business professor at New York University.
"That affects a whole lot of advertisers up and down the line,"
Boland said. "You're going dark on parts of what is now very
definitely the Football Inc business model."
America's top sports league and its leaders have also faced pressure
from corporate sponsors, politicians and some fans since the Sept. 8
airing of a video showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray
Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator.
Linda Swanson, a 72-year-old retired schoolteacher in San Diego, who
has played fantasy football with her grandson and other family
members for three years, said she cut Rice from her roster after she
saw the video. But she said she has no plans to reduce her time
playing fantasy football.
"It kind of brings everybody together, give everybody something to
talk about and tease each other about."
Part of fantasy sports' appeal is the fantasy aspect itself, so when
cold reality intrudes it can detract from the enjoyment, said
Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson.
"When I suddenly find myself thinking in a fantasy football game
about whether I should put this person on my team because he might
get charged for domestic violence, I think it's time to start
playing Dungeons and Dragons," Thompson said.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Eric Effron and
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