January Q&A: Football Fantasies

Frank Coppola says he was a bookworm during his school days and never participated in organized sports, but in the years since then (he's now 32) he's become a major player in the state's fantasy football craze. The Lee resident, who's assistant sports editor for the Seacoast Media Group, writes a column about fantasy sports for Sunday Seacoast and spends more than a few hours each week playing coach for his own fantasy teams. How did you, a self-described bookworm, become a sports writer and fantasy football fan? My dad got me into sports by taking me to games. When I was 10 or 11, the Patriots made the Super Bowl, the Celtics won the championship and the Red Sox were in the World Series. Experiences like that made me a fan at a young age. Why is picking fantasy teams and playing in fantasy leagues suddenly so popular? It really busted through as a major phenomenon in the last five years, but the concept has been around for more than 20 years. It really took off when the Internet took off. Starting around 1999, Yahoo and other Web sites started to tabulate all the information you need to play; you used to have to go through box scores and stats and tabulate all that stuff yourself. The Internet has made it really easy. Why is it fun? If your playing days are over, it's an outlet for following sports and still being competitive. It's also a way to test your skills and knowledge of sports and see who comes out on top. You do it for bragging rights. It seems like it's a boon for the NFL. It is. The number of people who pay close attention to the NFL has skyrocketed - they're watching the games, checking them out online. The fans are so much more knowledgeable than they used to be about teams outside of their area and about football in general. The NFL is definitely the big winner. Do you need a Y chromosome to be part of fantasy football? No, actually, there are a lot of female fans and a lot that really take it seriously. The vast majority of players are men, but it's not an all-boys club, that's for sure. Does playing the game make you yearn for being able to switch out players in your life - like an uncle or co-worker? Yeah, there are some people I wouldn't mind switching, but there are no fantasy life leagues. You have to deal with the hand you're given, but I might have to look into that. So, are the Patriots a fantasy team in real life? They have had a magical season; this is the best team I've ever seen - they could be one of the greatest teams of all time. I've had a blast rooting for them. To get started in fantasy sports, you can go to espn.com, yahoo.com or nfl.com.
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