CSTB’s inhouse fantasy football league held its annual draft Sunday afternoon, an on-line affair in which the participants were a motely assortment of bloggers, musicians and professional cranks. When I gaze at this august body, I don’t see black or white. I merely see 11 dudes who know way more about the NFL than me.
When responding to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s tally of 93% of wannabe Scott Pioli’s being whiter-than-Supertramp, ESPN The Magazine‘s Stephen A. Smith (abvoe) declares, “To hell with fantasy. I’m about what’s real!” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
I’m not surprised to learn that so few blacks are among the 30 million people who participate in fantasy sports. I’ve always thought that a lot of these guys (and 96% of them are guys) are nerds desperately in need of more sociable leisure time activities. Leisure time for black folks historically consists of direct interaction, the kind of experience you get at a family barbecue or hanging out with friends. Sitting in front of a computer screen pretending to be Bill Parcells? Sounds like work to me.
FSTA research shows that only 1.6% of fantasy players are black, 2.3% are Latino and 1.1% are Asian. And the more I learn about the typical fantasy player, the more I think most minorities simply have better things to do.
Of all the opinions I collected on the racial disparity, though, one of the most interesting came from Kim Beason, an associate professor at Ole Miss who’s also the CEO of Fantasy Sport Research Specialists. Basically, Beason’s six years of research shows that people who have well-paying jobs with fast Internet connections are more likely to play fantasy sports. “When you break it down, it appears the disparity has to do with a critical mass of individuals who are together discussing fantasy sports,” he tells me. “Up to now, that has mostly occurred in the white workplace. And a lot of time, it’s on the Internet.”
Smith fails to note that fantasy sports predate the advent of the internet as a mainstream communication tool. Perhaps we need go much further back and consider all possibilities —- subliminal, pseudo-racist code in Strat-O-Matic? A Denny’s-esque seating/payment policy at the La Rotisserie Francaise?