Judging The Performance

Something about putting together virtual teams based on real players — and then judging the performance of those fantasy teams based on how the real athletes do on the field?

Exactly.

It began as a fun game played among friends. But today it’s a multi billion business on real, live sports. Many of the same corporate interests involved in pro-sports have gotten on the fantasy bandwagon (Time Warner, which owns CNN, has invested in FanDuel one of the biggest fantasy sports companies).

Here’s a breakdown for the uninitiated.

Most people have heard of fantasy sports, and millions play it. But let’s be honest: Odds are someone in the room with you right now has no idea what it really is or how it works.

How does fantasy sports work?

Fans choose from real players in an online selection process, or a draft, to assemble a fantasy team. The players’ real-game statistics are compiled and compared to see whose fantasy team has done the best.

Players track how their fantasy team is doing using various web sites or mobile apps. Some players join leagues with friends and compete against only people they know. Others join public leagues hosted by web sites and compete against strangers.

Who plays?

Some 56 million people play fantasy sports in North America. About 10 million of those players are teenagers. About 19% of adult men play fantasy sports, compared to 9% of of women, according to estimates STATS Inc.

And wealthier fans are more likely to play: 16% of people with incomes of $50,000 or more play fantasy sports, while only 10% of people who earn less than $50,000 participate.

A total of $18 billion is spent on fantasy sports annually. By comparison, $140 billion is wagered on real sports and $70 billion is spent in lotteries.

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