Fantasy sports is huge, plain and simple.
Juping straight into the stats, more than 32 million people in the United States and Canada alone were active participants in the game as of last year. That number, provided by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, is a 60% increase from 2007. From a financial sense, the fantasy sports industry is estimated to be worth $2 billion at the very least. If fantasy sports has any downside, however, it's that eventually the season has to end.
Or does it?
According to Toby Mergler, a former lawyer who was laid off from his D.C. Law firm back in 2007, it doesn't. In one of those brainstorms that only come in the oddest of places; for his part, the shower, Mergler came up with a plan that would involve all sports and create a fantasy league where the action is year long.
Mergler's plan was to create a cross-sport league in which participants could enjoy the action year round as opposed to just the limited months that each sport provides. In his league, a trade involving both Tom Brady and Stephen Strasburgh would make perfect sense. Also, in his league, the greatest aspect of fantasy sports, the trash talking with friends, would never have to end.
“It’s the friends, the trash talk, the always having some skin in the game when you watch sports,” Mr. Mergler said. “That’s why everyone loves fantasy. My thought was, How do you optimize the experience?”
Mergler is hoping that the biggest draw to his upcoming league is that is breaks from the somewhat predictable formula of current fantasy games. With the fantasy sports genre being so popular, nearly everyone is an expert so drafts have become somewhat predictable and unexciting.
“Because fantasy is so popular, there are so many experts,” he said. “Everyone has the same information. Every [player] draft is the same. Trades are hard to pull off. Plus, there’s an offseason – fantasy football only lasts four months, and then everyone spends eight months wishing for the next season.
“Crossing sports means no more experts. Trades are wilder. Game play is year-round. And it gives people a reason to stay involved: You might be losing in baseball, but football gives you a fresh start. This one simple thing opens up a world of possibilities.”
Mergler's new fantasy league, even at it's potential greatest, won't replace the everyday leagues. Instead, he's hoping to lure in the high-stake players, the hardcore experts. They are the type of clientele that would have the patience and the knowledge needed to make his version of fantasy sports a hit, both personally and professionally.
“This isn’t going to replace people’s current fantasy games,” said Mr. Schauf, the former publisher of a fantasy sports business website. “But the people who will want to play a multisport league are serious players, a high-stakes crowd, and they’re willing to pay for the product.”
Success is far from certain in this venture but one thing is for certain for Mergler, at least he can say that he followed his dream to completion.
Mergler plans on launching his website in June and is expected to need anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000 participants to produce a profit.
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