2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Mariah Wilson

Don’t waste your money on fantasy sports

By Jason Herring, April 6 2017 —

spent $80 on fantasy hockey this season and I lost all three leagues I’m in. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes — I had one big win last year and I know I can’t expect to win every year, despite my hockey knowledge.

While fantasy sports are often just a fun pastime that can make a long season more engaging, for some, they can be a huge money and time sink analogous to traditional gambling. This is especially true for fantasy sports’ daily variants.

Daily fantasy sports let participants choose a selection of athletes from a professional sports league while staying under a predetermined ‘salary cap’ — a total value for all of the players. Then the real-world athletes play their scheduled games and earn fantasy points based on their productivity. In hockey, this could be through scoring goals and assists, making saves or even taking penalties. Each daily entry comes with a fee, which is pooled into a prize pool for the day. According to Ipsos Marketing and Research, about one in five fantasy sports players participate in the daily version.

If you have never played, you’re probably most familiar with daily fantasy sports from their ubiquitous ‘get-rich-quick’ advertisements.
DraftKings and FanDuel are the tw
o most popular services. Each are present in most commercial breaks during a big league sports game. Both companies have had their legality questioned in the United States and are still lobbying to have their businesses legitimized. In the meantime, leagues like the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association support the industry, running advertorials on their websites and promoting the brand names on their broadcasts.

For students, daily fantasy sports are not recommended for the same reason that traditional gambling is a poor idea — the system is rigged against you. The players who win the majority of daily fantasy games play as a full-time job, creating programs that crunch numbers and running complex algorithms to figure out the optimal set of athletes to give them the best chance of winning, Moneyball style. And the price of athletes is designed to make players choose poorly — Connor McDavid is clearly one of the best hockey players in the world, but he’s rarely the most sensible fantasy choice. All this adds up to a system where the scales are more tipped against amateurs than you’d expect.

While there’s no market for fantasy collegiate sports in Canada, the U.S.’s popular NCAA college league has had its share of problems with fantasy sports. NCAA student athletes are not allowed to participate in fantasy sport, with the punishment of a full year of competition ineligibility. And the NCAA does not allow daily fantasy companies to advertise during their games or involve NCAA athletes — all this despite the popularity of gambling during the league’s yearly tournament, the recently concluded March Madness.

Fantasy sports are a multi-billion dollar industry. If you’re looking to win a cut of that money by playing, you probably won’t have much luck. But when it comes to fantasy’s longer variants like weekly head-to-heads or season pools among personal groups, the games can prove to be inexpensive fun with friends that make following sports more interesting.


Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet