By RON PRESTON
The NFL rosters have been set and now itís time for the 19 + million Fantasy Football fanatics to begin their season.
Fantasy Football, for those of us who participate, began in the early 1960ís according to published reports. The 19 million fans, probably much larger than this, are registered in leagues on the Internet in sites created just for this purpose.
Sites like CBSsports.com, NFL.com, Foxsports.com and Yahoo Fantasy Sports are the big four Internet sites that provide leagues, create drafting processes and scoring and statistical reports for all those that choose to play.
Fantasy football grew slowly during the 60ís to 1997 when CBS launched the first publicly available free fantasy football website. From there it has grown by leaps and bounds each year, to now well over the 19 million mark.
Fantasy football is not gender specific when it comes to team owners or general managers. There are no specific numbers of women who sign up and play, but the big four websites have polled their subscribers and found and even growing amount of children and women have become football fanatics just like the stereotypical male.
The big four websites not only have made millions on their websites because of the advertisers they sell but they have also developed special shows on television such as Fantasy Football Today on ESPN and CBSís Fantasy Football Today.
The unique thing about Fantasy Football is all leagues, owners, teams etc. do not have to play by the same rules. In fact each league can set the number of teams in the league, the number of players per team, the scoring system used, etc.
The common thing amongst the different leagues is that teams draft an actual NFL player, hopefully currently playing on some NFL team at the time, and use their statistics based on their leagues scoring system.
Draft nights can be a fun night at a restaurant, a team owners home or completely done on line by the computer.
The amount of people playing Fantasy Football off line is unknown and so the 19 million plus is probably just a drop in the bucket of those of us that get involved in this crazy phenomenon.
Why do people play Fantasy Football? Most people will tell you just for the fun of it and that it keeps you interested in the NFL as a whole even though your TV might only get Chiefs or Cowboys games for some reason.
Even professional athletes play the game. In one article in the many Fantasy Football magazines you can buy to get you through the draft process, it was noted that former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley plays in four fantasy football leagues himself.
It has become so popular that in 2011, the NFL directed teams to show fantasy statistics during games on the stadium video boards.
So, are you ready? The first game is tomorrow night between the Denver Broncos and the defending Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens. The game is on your NBC network channel, so set your rosters and let the season begin.