Are Fantasy Sports Leagues a Uniquely American Pastime?

My BFF claims that he has heard callers with identifiable Australian accents calling the Sirius fantasy football channel’s call-in show, leading him to think that American-style fantasy football has gained something of a following in Australia, of all places.

Are there fantasy Canadian Football League leagues? Are middle-aged Englishmen meticulously watching their fantasy football (soccer) rosters? Fantasy cricket, perhaps?

Or is this another one of those distinctly Merkin phenomena, like monster truck rallies?

No, they are no uniquely American.

Fantasy Football (soccer) has been popular in the UK since the early 90s

Top Gear (the BBC magazine/TV show) had a fantasy Formula 1 contest going for a few years. I think it started in '93. I know it was definitely going in '94 because I had Senna.

Would you mind giving me a layman’s explanation of how that works, since not all players will have a lot of opportunities to score?

Pretty good explanation here. The short version is that scoring is usually based on player match ratings provided by newspapers or websites.

I played in a fantasy cricket competition in the mid-90’s in the UK. It was run by the Independent newspaper. It was pretty similar to fantasy football here: pick 11 players based on how many runs, wickets, and catches you thought they’d get.

I think I finished somewhere in the top 1000 one year, but with only the top 10 getting prizes, I was a long way from cashing in.

My work is a provider of fantasy sports contests online, and I can tell you, without a doubt - many countries enjoy fantasy sports.

We’ve done contests in Spanish, Italian, French, German, among other languages. Soccer is very popular internationally.

We are based in Canada - and we host a plethora of Canadian contests for CFL, NHL, Soccer, NFL and even Baseball that are open to only Canadians. My husband was in a friendly NHL fantasy sports league for many years and has also gone in on NFL & baseball pools.

In Canada hockey pools are by far the most popular, from my experience.

Even over fantasy curling?

Fantasy football (soccer) is big in the UK, there was even a TV show in the mid-nineties called ‘Fantasy Football League’ (intially on radio, but on TV from 1994), where the original format was a fantasy league with each team being ‘managed’ by a different celebrity who would be the guest on the show for one week. The TV show was a massive hit, though mainly as vehicle for it’s two comedian co-presenters (who it made big stars of) to talk about football and other aspects of so-called ‘lad-culture’ which was the zeitgeist in the UK at the time.

Fantasy football (soccer) was clearly copied from fantasy footbal (American), but the soccer form became a hit in the UK very soon after the American football form became a hit in the US.

Fantasy Cricket Leagues are also of note.

Lol! Hockey still is more popular, but curling is more fanatical!

A bar near me has in the past hosted meetings of a fantasy golf league.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Yes, there are CFL Fantasy football leagues.

A very common version in Australia is based on Rugby League. Presumably there would be ones for Rugby Union as well.

There’s a couple of different ways of assigning points based on a ‘player rating’, or you can run it on the bassi of assigning points for various things,

of tackles,

Metres Gained,
Trys scored (obviously),
‘Dominant’ player