It’s the beginning of the fantasy football season and in a few months, the smartest general managers will be celebrating their league championships. I would argue that many of the winning adult GMs have gotten smarter by playing fantasy football (and maybe by being a bit lucky in their draft) because they need to think ahead, be flexible, and used mathematical skills. And I also believe that kids can also get smart playing fantasy football.
Most people believe that football is a game of strength, aggression, and speed. To perform at the highest levels of professional football, most players require a combination of these attributes. However, the best players also need brainpower. While it is commonly known that quarterbacks need to process vast amounts of information quickly while calling plays and making decisions, many other players need to do so, as well. For example, centers on the offensive line need to call out blocking assignments, while linebackers frequently need to call defensive positioning based on what the offense is presenting them. The defensive backfield needs to work together and communicate about different types of coverages, and wide receivers need to be able to identify zone versus man-to-man defenses in making decisions for their route running. In addition, football coaches are among the most intellectually gifted coaches of any sport due to the complexity of the game. While my fellow New England Patriot fans may not love Bill Belicheck’s demeanor, there is no arguing about his intelligence.
Fantasy football also requires brainpower. Players don’t play the game but draft professional football players for their fictional teams who accumulate points based on their performance on the field. If you are new to fantasy football, you can learn more about it at sites such as NFL.com, CBS.com, ESPN.com, or Yahoo.com. Fantasy football is fun doesn’t require brute strength or the capacity to tackle someone else. But it does necessitate a variety of thinking skills.
Here are three ways kids get smart playing fantasy football:
- By its very nature, fantasy football is based almost solely on the statistics of professional players and, as a result, requires mathematical skills and knowledge of numbers and exposes players to consideration of probability.
- Fantasy football also requires research. In order to construct the best team, players need to have knowledge about past performance, current team composition, and predictions for the future. They need to read extensively or at the very least listen to sports shows or podcasts that follow fantasy football.
- Application of knowledge and use of judgment is also necessary for success at fantasy football. It is a great opportunity to learn from mistakes in a fun and safe manner. The skills required to make decisions at fantasy sports are similar to those needed to run a business, design websites or software, or make medical or psychological decisions, all of which involve judgment and reflection. In fantasy football, weighing facts and determining what is most important are crucial to drafting a team and making weekly decisions. It provides a terrific opportunity for kids to learn some of these skills and to be involved in a safe environment for making mistakes and learning how to change their behavior as they progress through this sport.
I frequently recommend that parents consider engaging their kids and other family members in a fantasy football league. It’s a wonderful chance to communicate with each other, have a lot of fun, and learn.