Why We Play the Game


Over the next couple weeks, in addition to other Olympics content, we'll be posting a series of columns from our co-founders about why we love the Olympics.  On the eve of the Games, Lee weighs in.

As the opening ceremony approaches and Fantasy Olympian’s accounting department (or more specifically, a guy who just got his kids to bed) works diligently to upload the numerous draft results that we have received, we continue to be amazed by the interest we get every other year for this fantasy game. Amazed, but not surprised, because we share the same enthusiasm for the Olympics as all of those who have joined us; those who have recruited friends, possibly spent time researching some obscure athletes, and sent an e-mail to our budget website – it is, after all, our shared passion for the Olympics that prompted us to organize the first Fantasy Olympian game several years ago. As Deadspin.com famously wrote about our game: “These guys probably like the Olympics more than you do.”

But why do we care this much? There was a cynical commentary that we heard on the radio recently which highlighted how the Olympics draws brief attention to fringe sports. Certainly, not many of us will be seeking out archery or decathlon results anytime other than during the Olympics.  But one of the things we at Fantasy Olympian love about the Olympics is that it shows us that those sports are happening - and that those athletes are training and competing – outside the mainstream when no one else is looking. For every LeBron James that may be competing in the Olympics, there is at least one athlete who has no major sponsorships and probably has a day job. There’s no need to highlight anyone in particular here as we can all count on NBC to satisfy our appetite for sentimental athlete profiles over the next two weeks, but it’s those athletes who inspire us.

There’s plenty of money in the Olympics. It’s a big business, made possible by big sponsors and big TV contracts. But in a time when money is the dominant force in all sports – even the amateur collegiate level – the Olympics is an opportunity to see at least some people who compete almost exclusively because they love their sport and have not much more to earn from it than athletic glory. The Olympics is the one event where we get to see them and what they do and take a brief interest; and while the world’s attention on them is brief, those athletes have been and will continue training and competing outside of our view for the love of the game.

So let’s find out who they are, learn the details of equestrian scoring even if we may soon forget, and hope these competitors can bring our fantasy teams some glory too.