Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Fantasy Football Works

Fantasy Football Goes Public

Oakland restaurateur and GOPPL team coach Andy Mousalimas opened the first public fantasy football league to his patrons at the Kings X Sports Bar in 1969. By veering slightly from the original GOPPL formula, Mousalimas was responsible for the push toward the current practice of performance scoring, which rewards points to players who score touchdowns. Mousalimas has since retired from the restaurant business, but the Kings X remains the ground zero of fantasy football. Today, the Kings X continues to maintain six different real world fantasy divisions, including the Queens division -- a division especially reserved for the female patrons of the Kings X.

With the advent of the Internet, fantasy football has blossomed from a game played by an elite group of all-male sports enthusiasts in bars to a million-dollar industry reaching 30 million online players (including 6.5 million women) in America. On average, players spend $110 a year on their online fantasy franchises.

Early proponents of fantasy football struggled to get information about the condition of their competing players and relied heavily on such publications as Street and Smith's sports annuals to make draft day decisions. Today, Internet-savvy football fans can get a wealth of information online on any player currently in the NFL. They can easily compare and contrast both whole teams and individual players. "Virtual drafts" enable team owners to build teams from the comfort of their living rooms, and fans can create leagues with friends who live half a world away or test their skills against a group of total strangers. It is no wonder that "virtual" fantasy football has taken center stage, while public, non-digital fantasy football now finds itself fading into obscurity.

With so many different types of fantasy football games and fantasy sites to choose from, there is a game for any degree of football fan. So which game is right for you?