WebWatch: Living in a fantasy world

Modern sport is a source of endless debate for fans around the world, but the creation of online ‘Fantasy Sports’ has changed the way some of us watch it, writes Ryan Mackenzie. Today’s sports fans don’t just want to watch games and debate the outcome amongst their mates for the sole purpose of entertainment. They want to impose their opinions on others and demonstrate that they really can do a better job than those overpaid and dim-witted managers that consistently make the wrong decisions that wreck everyone’s buzz. Why? It’s because the miracle of the internet has given every man, woman and child an inflated sense that their opinions matter.Knowing this, some very clever people invented ‘Online Fantasy Sports’, which have become an international sensation in recent years. These competitions give avid fans the opportunity to prove that they, in fact, do know how to run a sports team – without all of the media, fans, internal disputes and financial difficulties which, let’s face it, are only minor issues in running a team.What’s more, these competitions are a breeding ground for social interaction. Indeed, even the most brainless and ignorant of sporting fair-weather fans can get a cheeky invite to the Friday night ‘sesh’ by merely randomly updating their team every other week. In this way fantasy sports push all the right buttons and appeal to every demographic, making them commercial gold for the internet people who are no doubt making lots of money off the back of this gravy train.In a way, fantasy sports are a form of gambling for those unwilling to back their predictions with actual cash. Instead they choose to put something far less valuable on the line – their dignity. The ultimate goal of a fantasy league is to earn bragging rights until the next season rolls around and an unofficial badge of honour which warns others of your superior intellect. For the losers, it’s their pride and respect which stand to be stripped from them.Despite the lack of large financial gain and the potential humiliation that pervade fantasy competitions, the idea is ingenious. Taking the recently concluded Six Nations for example, the often tedious affairs between Italy and, well, any team they play are no longer as pointless to the neutral fan as they once were.Due to fantasy rugby, some of the players in these dull affairs may be integral to your fantasy team. Thus, the clever people of the internet have managed to do the impossible and made watching Italian rugby bearable...somewhat – the concept is yet to make watching cricket bearable.The fascination with these online games forms a striking parallel with the widespread Football Manager obsession which has plagued footie fans for years. If the computer game is anything to go by, Fantasy Sports will soon be a common cause of divorce and redundancy.