Situational wagers and fantasy sports can find their roots in the earliest eras of human civilization. Although lately we’ve seen competition go from season long competitions, to weekly, to daily and finally, to play-by-play predictions, history shows that there are always extra layers to every competition.
Sports fans have been eager to be a part of the action as far back as ancient Rome, when members of the upper class used go to the Coliseum and wager money, property, and more on gladiators of their choosing. In medieval times lords and ladies would gather for jousting competitions, betting on their favorite rider as he mowed down the competition. Humans have bet on everything from animal races and bareknuckle boxing to drinking games and coin flips for generations.
As we move into the modern era, we can trace the growth of organized sports along with the proliferation of modern technology. In 1911, love of college football drove more than 1,000 people to get together in Lawrence, Kansas to watch a mechanical recreation of Kansas University playing Missouri University in Columbia, Missouri. As the game was played, a group of people announced the results of the game, and they showed the results using a large model of the field, essentially reproducing the plays for the fans in attendance. The fans cheered wildly as if they were in the stadium, and it showed the sheer power of sports and the true passion of modern sports fans. As sports became more of a social activity (and there were more statistics to analyze), sports betting became more and more popular, even for those who couldn’t witness the games in person.
In 1919, the Black Sox scandal showcased the power of sports betting. In a gambling conspiracy, the Chicago White Sox threw the World Series, got caught and took baseball’s innocence with it. The scandal marred Major League Baseball and the White Sox tremendously, and created a huge wedge between the major sports leagues and sports betting organizations. This led to sports betting moving further into underground organizations, where it is illegal in most states.
While traditional sports gambling was quickly regulated to prevent future incidents like the “Black Sox” scandal, the desire to get in on the game’s action never faded. Fans got creative in their attempt to play along with their favorite games from the comfort of their own homes. Radio and the ease of distribution of print media made it easier for fans to keep up with their favorite teams. Of course the first sports television broadcasts in the 1950s made it much easier for fans to catch their favorite sporting events, and all major sports saw a huge period of growth as a result.
Fantasy Becomes Reality
Almost as soon as sporting events starting being broadcast on television, the first fantasy sports league was created, focused on golf results. In the 1960s, famed statistics-based sports card game Strat-O-Matic baseball was invented, and the first fantasy baseball leagues were formed. By 1962, the growing popularity of the NFL inspired the first fantasy football leagues, laying the foundation for the multi-billion dollar fantasy sports industry that exists today.
A huge milestone in the growth of fantasy sports came in 1980, when rotisserie baseball emerged as the standard of season-long fantasy sports. Breaking down statistics into individual, category-based battles changed things immensely. Now you could target specific players with specific statistics that you needed to round out your team. This allowed for fantasy baseball players to feel like actual general managers, enabling them to get much more creative with the way they crafted their teams. In 1988 Managerial Baseball League introduced the first 5×5 format which attracted over half a million players to get involved and showed the true potential of the fantasy community.
With the fantasy sports world booming, it was only a matter of time before mainstream media would catch on and join in on the fun. By the early 1990s, major news outlets like USA Today started publishing editorial content for fantasy sports fans. When ESPN.com rose to prominence, the non-stop barrage of easy-access sports content made fantasy sports much easier to keep up with. By the late 1990s, then-tech-titan Yahoo! offered the first free fantasy sports leagues, completely changing the business model for fantasy sports leagues.
However, when the dotcom bubble burst in the early 2000s, many popular fantasy sports sites like FanBall.com and RotoNews.com (among others) went bankrupt. As a result, the remaining online fantasy sports companies went back to a pay-to-play model, putting a significant dent into the numbers of overall participants in fantasy sports.
With many fans eager to still be involved but not wanting to make a significant, season-long monetary commitment, a new platform was sure to emerge. Of course, ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo still offer free leagues that are wildly popular, and fantasy football remains a huge draw for millions of people each year, which leads to CBS, Fox, and NBC dedicating time in their pre-show programs to discuss fantasy sports. The development of the RedZone Network made it easier than ever for fans to experience as much NFL action as possible and made it easier for fantasy users to keep up with their players.
Move to Daily
In 2014, Daily Fantasy Sports emerged, requiring much less of a commitment than the season-long or week-long formats of the past. The daily format gave players flexibility on a day to day basis. They could pick multiple rosters, play head-to-head or in large tournaments for big prizes, and allowed players to showcase their expertise in these sports that have now become an institution in our country. While the new format attracted many new casual fans, the open backend enabled high frequency gamblers to game the system and push out any player competing without an algorithm. After the 2015 season, it was estimated that 1.3% of regular Daily Fantasy Players finished with positive winnings. And although the new format allowed for more flexibility, once you picked your roster each day, you were locked in. But that was all about to change.
The Future of Sports Viewing
In 2016, WinView Games delivered the ultimate platform for fans to play along with their favorite sports events, predicting plays as they unfold. Much like the players on the field, the players at home can change their strategy mid-game if something isn’t working or double down on a winning strategy. Unlike Daily Fantasy, it’s a free platform (in a throwback to fantasy’s heyday in the 90s) while also creating a game that involves the very same sports predictions that have historically intrigued fans.
Fans are able to put their predictive skills to the test, making wagers on whether Odell Beckham Jr. will break for a touchdown on the next drive, if Stephen Curry will drain a three on his next possession, or if Miguel Cabrera will crush a home run during his next at-bat. You don’t pick a team or have to set any lineups, you simply watch the game and predict what you think is going to happen next using WinView’s live play-by-play prediction system. It’s an easy and fun way to show off your sports knowledge and predictive skills while watching your favorite team play.
WinView Game is 100% free to play, and legal in every state in the U.S.