By P.J. Harmer — Rattling Chains staff
It’s safe to say that fantasy sports is a multimillion-dollar industry.
The amount of people who participate in fantasy sports leagues every year continues to grow. The amount of people who play these games in the United States is staggering. It’s not just football, either. It cover sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey among others.
How big are fantasy sports?
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association‘s 2012 Media Guide, 34 million adults in America play fantasy sports — up from an estimated 9 million in 2005.
The big sports are football (72 percent), baseball (37 percent) and racing (24 percent). But different sports are out there for people to play. If you have an interest, the odds are there’s some sort of fantasy sport for you.
Disc golf is no different.
In its second year, PlayFantasyDiscGolf.com has a pretty steady following of players on the site. Co-creator Aaron Brooker estimated there’s been about 1,700 people signing up each year and, depending on the time of year, there are about 350-600 active users.
Brooker said the idea came up for the site based on seeing fantasy disc golf done in other places, but it seemed to be done via well-coordinated Excel files. He let the idea stew while he recovered from a surgery and wasn’t able to be out playing.
After having his wife created some mock-ups, he teamed up with co-creator Rob Hruska, another golfer who enjoys fantasy sports. Brooker had worked with Hruska on a different project involving tournaments and leagues before.
“Our goal is to highlight the athletes,” Brooker said. “We feel touring pros deserve recognition and we hope to be known for promoting our best athletes and bringing more attention to the sport of disc golf.”
Building the site
In the first year, there was a workable model. In the second year, the duo delivered more than originally intended — such as a customizable service with the ability to choose local events.
“As the site has grown, we’ve been able to speak to more people about it, offer more prizes, encourage advertisers and help promote the athletes,” Brooker said.
With disc golf growing in popularity, fantasy disc golf could be a good way to allow disc golfers another way to enjoy the game and also learn about the pro tour.
Leagues play for different things, such as discs or even money.
Sponsors have stepped in, too, which has allowed the site to give away prizes such as baskets, gift cards, bags, discs and other things. These giveaways are part of a free membership on the site.
And that, Brooker said, is the best feature of the site.
“Hands down — the site is free to play and you can win prizes,” he said.
How it works
There are several different ways people can set up their leagues. Scoring formats include the following:
- By position — Points awarded based on number in division.
- By score — The commissioner can choose how many points first place is worth to keep events comparable.
- By payout — In other words, how much a pro makes at a tournament.
As for setting up your team weekly, there can be salary caps based on a player’s rating; captain multipliers to help avoid ties; and substitutes to help with no-shows.
Four divisions (MPO, FPO, MPM and MA1) are available.
Several companies, such as DGA, have started public free leagues which also offer prizes.
There are also premier leagues, which give commissioners a lot more control. Those cost $30.
“We felt $30 was worth the value to play fantasy disc golf with your disc golf community,” Brooker said. “Whether you wanted to play with a small group of friends or provide a service for your local scene, the premier league was the way to go.”
Building for the future
One of the biggest things the site needs to work on, Brooker said, is keeping people.
“When people realized they couldn’t win a prize, they quit playing,” Brooker said.
But, that’s likely not just a problem with fantasy disc golf. In many fantasy sports, when people are out of the running for prizes or the playoffs, they cease playing for that year.
“We thought we had fixed that in year two by offering separate prizes for each event,” Brooker said. “I think the season (which runs February-October) is too long.”
So, that’s part of what is being looked at for the future.
Other plans, such as Facebook integration and finding a way to highlight players with a user-based system, are being explored.
One issue seems to be results and the speed they appear. Disc golf is, for the most part, not a real-time sport. That means results aren’t always updated within hours of a tournament ending.
“We’re very thankful that people enjoyed fantasy disc golf so much, but we did have a few cases pestering tournament directors for results to be updated quickly,” Brooker said.
It seems like the site is on an upward curve, though. As with many ventures, it will likely go through some growing pains. But Brooker and Hruska seem to have a pretty good pulse on the community.
“(We) want to grow the sport and continue highlighting the best athletes,” Brooker said. “As with nearly everyone, we’d love to see some large sponsors allow us to offer all our services for free.”
P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. E-mail him at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com.