The Fenokees and the Origin of Fantasy Sports

In a piece titled “Dream Teams,” Ben McGrath recounts the story of how fantasy sports were started. It began with a man named Daniel Okrent, who met with some friends at La Rotisserie Française, an eatery on East Fifty-Second Street in New York City, from which, of course, we get Rotisserie baseball.

I think this paragraph about how fantasy baseball (or perhaps all fantasy sports) lose their allure over time:

“In the first year or two you’re playing, you are much more engaged with baseball than you’ve been since you were seven years old,” Okrent said. “And then, by your fourth or fifth year, the actual game has lost meaning for you. You’re engaged in the numbers that the game spins out and engaged with millions of others in the same way. It has no relationship not just to the fan attachment that you may have had to a particular team but to the physical thing that’s taking place on the field. It’s the representation of it in a number that’s what’s important. I’m thinking of our original group. A couple of them really don’t give a shit about baseball at all anymore.” He added, “When people say, ‘How do you feel, having invented this?’ I say, ‘I feel the way that J. Robert Oppenheimer felt having invented the atomic bomb.’ I really do. I mean, pretty terrible!”

As for myself, I was an avid fantasy baseball player in the early 2000s. But after four to five years, I lost majority of my interest.

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