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Fantasy Sports & Legalized Sports Gambling Are Keeping The NFL Afloat

September 06, 2018 - 12:21 pm

By Alex Woodward

The 2018 NFL season is upon us and we finally get our fix tonight when the Eagles and Falcons kick things off in Philadelphia. The question is, are we getting a football fix or a fantasy and gambling fix?

For decades, the NFL has been the cash cow of American sports. That still may be true but I don't think it's for the same reasons anymore.

Let's be real, the game is not the same. It took years for us to figure out what a "catch" was and now we have a new rule to be enraged by with the helmet rule. I'm all for player safety but now instead of everyone arguing over what is and isn't a catch, now we get to argue about what is and isn't a tackle. The game has been diminished but even still, I'm not deterred.

The NFL has also become somewhat of a soap opera. Contract holdouts during negotiations are one thing but the league has morphed into it's own justice system. It seems like every year recently, there has been some sort of scandal involving players. Whether it is domestic abuse allegations, DUI's or failed drug tests; The league has become it's own judge, jury and executioner. They listen to police reports and investigations but hire their own investigators to come to their own conclusions. For example, last year with Ezekiel Elliott. The police dropped charges against him and the leagues own investigator determined his ex was not a credible witness. Even still, he was suspended. Their punishments are bizarre and inconsistent and the drawn-out investigations just highlight the dysfunction. At yet, we still tune in.

One of the biggest deterrents for people in the past few seasons is because of Colin Kaepernick. Love him or hate him, kneeling during the anthem has divided fans and has even turned people off to football entirely. Now with his new Nike deal, people will be seeing him every Sunday in advertisements and some will be screaming at their televisions. But still we watch.

Why? Because we have other interests besides allegiance to our favorite football team. It's money. The prospect of making money off of watching a game. For me, it's fantasy football but with more states getting permission to legalize sports gambling; that will also be a reason for a large percentage in viewership.

At this point, there are still your die-hard fans that get amped up to watch their favorite team every week but I would say the NFL is so popular because of people's obsession with fantasy sports. Daily fantasy leagues, year long fantasy leagues, family leagues, buddy leagues, coworker leagues. Of course, other sports have fantasy leagues but there's something so exciting about the brevity of the season and the week to week matchups. A lot of people have rooting interests in games and it's not because they are fans of the team. Do you really think people would care about the terrible product put on the field every Thursday night if it wasn't for fantasy football? I doubt it.

The same could be said about sports gambling. Degenerates have been betting on games since the creation of the league but now we are moving towards legalizing those wagers. The product might not be the same but hey, at least we can bet on it now right? That's what the NFL hopes we are saying.

The NFL needs legalized gambling and they need fantasy football. Those are the two things that prop up the NFL's ratings the most. Without them, I think the NBA would eventually take over as America's favorite sport.

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