As one of the 57.4 million people who play fantasy sports, I count the days until so-called “draft season.” I completed my first of five live fantasy baseball drafts a couple weeks ago. When I wasn’t “on the clock” to add another player to The Bryzzo Show roster, I compiled a list of 5 business lessons learned playing fantasy sports over the years.
Fantasy Sports Background
Fantasy sports aren’t all fun and games. They’re big business—a $32 billion industry, in fact, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Playing for more than 15 years, I focus exclusively on baseball and football. I even wrote my master’s thesis on the origination of fantasy football.
That sport, which began in the 1960s initially as a way for sportswriters to pass time on long road trips, is the crowned king of fantasy. But as a big baseball fan, I’ve always favored the Rotisserie style fantasy baseball game, which came along in 1980.
When pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in mid-February each year, I know draft season is just around the corner. The fantasy sports
obsession activity gives fans the opportunity to create and manage their own team. You’re the general manager (or owner) of your own business, essentially (without having to fork over the billions of dollars to purchase a professional franchise).
And with that, here are 5 business lessons learned playing fantasy sports.
1. Pay Attention
Baseball games are played every day from April through September. It’s vital that you pay attention. Keep a close eye on your own team and players, but also monitor what other owners are doing. See who’s available on the waiver wire—he could be the missing piece that leads you to a championship.
- Business Application: Understand your employees and their motivations. What drives them? How do they work best? What is your team missing in order to make it as successful as it can be?
2. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
It’s a long season. If your team starts out slowly, you might be tempted to make knee-jerk roster moves. Don’t panic. You did the work to prepare for the draft; trust in your research and give your team time to demonstrate its value.
- Business Application: Don’t give up on a well-thought-through strategy simply because you don’t see immediate results. Give it time to work and make slight adjustments, if necessary, but don’t be too quick to make a 180-degree course change.
3. Stay Healthy
Injuries happen, but it’s how you handle them that can mean the difference between hoisting a championship trophy and wallowing in defeat. Roster management is crucial and the ability to slot a replacement can come in handy when your No. 1 draft pick goes down with a season-ending injury.
- Business Application: Build bench strength within your organization. Develop a team with broad skill sets to handle tasks potentially outside their immediate job description. When one individual leaves the organization, another can step up in the interim to help the whole team stay on track.
4. Draft Wisely
Prepare. Research. Understand the rules of the league. When draft day arrives, you’ll know exactly how you need to build your championship team. That said, don’t be so stubborn that you won’t tweak your strategy on the fly. Every draft is different and if a bunch of first basemen are being drafted earlier than expected, factor that into your overall plan.
- Business Application: If you’re a manager, think about what sort of players you want on your team. Do they not only possess the skills to get the job done, but are they also a good fit for the culture and environment? Do they have skills you are lacking? Your goal is to build a winning team. After all, players might win games but teams win championships.
5. Develop Relationships
Your team, as it stands, might not be the best it can be. It’s important to keep an open dialogue with other owners in your league to understand what their needs are and how they might be able to help you fill a hole in your lineup.
- Business Application: What can other employees throughout your organization bring to your team? Is there an opportunity for collaboration where you can help a group solve a problem, all the while helping your team solve a bigger problem?
Take these business lessons learned playing fantasy sports and apply them to your professional life. As for me, here’s hoping Kris Bryant can repeat his MVP season and lead The Bryzzo Show (and the Chicago Cubs) to another championship.