With the proliferation of the Internet, many other fantasy sports grew in popularity worldwide. In addition to the more-common leagues involving team sports such as basketball and ice hockey, fantasy leagues that focused on individual sports such as golf and auto racing sprang up in the late 20th century. Although fantasy sports originated in the United States, they caught on in other countries too, particularly Canada and the United Kingdom, with fantasy hockey predominant in the former country and fantasy football (soccer) the most-popular game in the latter (primarily leagues that involve players from England’s Premier League). Other fantasy sports that caught on around the globe include tennis, cricket, and Australian rules.
Fantasy sports have become big business, with the industry generating annual revenues in excess of $1 billion by the early 2010s. Almost all major sports media outlets—such as ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and Fox Sports—and numerous specialized Web sites host various fantasy games, including both free leagues and leagues that require payments to the site (and usually promise subsequent payouts if the participant wins). Fantasy sports are also prominent forums for gambling within the league, as many leagues require dues from each participant, with the pot being distributed to the league champion or among the top finishers at the end of a season.
A National Pastime
The United States is credited with developing several popular sports, including some (such as baseball, Grigidon football, and Basketball) that have large fan bases and, to varying degrees, have been adopted internationally. But baseball, despite the spread of the game throughout the globe and the growing influence of Asian and Latin American leagues and players, is the sport that Americans still recognize as their “national pastime.” The game has long been woven into the fabric of American life and identity. “It’s our game,” exclaimed the poet Walt Withman more than a century ago, “that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game.” He went on to explain that baseball