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Playing fantasy football can lead to anxiety

Fantasy football logo
Fantasy football logo Image credit:

A study has implied playing Fantasy Football can affect people’s mental health with the condition becoming more severe the more they play.

The research, compiled by Nottingham Trent University, analysed data from 1,995 individuals who monitored their wellbeing whilst playing the popular game taking into account their habits, social adjustment and emotions.

Just under a quarter (24.6%) said they experienced a mild mood, although 44% who play Fantasy Football more regularly by spending 45 minutes playing, at least an hour researching and two hours thinking about the game on a daily basis, admitted their mental health suffered to a greater extent.

A total of 34% heavy users felt at least mild anxiety from playing the game in comparison to 20% of all players and 37% said Fantasy Football has disrupted their lives causing, what researchers refer to, a “functional impairment”.

The study concluded the introduction of social media had added a “myriad of complex cognitive and social psychological processes that may negatively impact one’s mental health”.

Researchers claimed because of risk factors associated with Fantasy Football and a lack of control over the game’s outcome this can affect player’s wellbeing.

Almost all of the respondents (96%) were male from 96 countries, their average age was 33.

Lead researcher Dr Luke Wilkins, an expert  in sport and exercise psychology in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology, told The Guardian: “Fantasy football is unwinnable for the vast majority that play and it is possible that the more a person is invested the more negatively impacted they will be when they ‘lose’

“Our study highlights the general positives that the game can bring, but also warns of the potential negatives, and provides justification for the idea that more should be done to monitor the amount of time being dedicated to playing fantasy football.”

Modern fantasy football can be traced back to Wilfred "Bill" Winkenbach, an Oakland, California businessman and limited partner in the Oakland Raiders.