Spotlight On Fantasy Sports
Fantasy Sports has been around for over half a century, with the earliest of iterations credited to former MLB player Ethan Allen who created the classic board game, All Star-Baseball in 1941. Featuring a spinner and cards using real MLB players and their batting averages, this was a precursor to Strat-O-Maticdeveloped by BucknellUniversity mathematics student Hal Richman in his parents’ Glen Head, NY basement.
The digital age of fantasy sports started in 1960 when mid-level IBM programmer John Burgesoncoded a game that could only be used on a $120,000 computer. Burgeson’sversion of fantasy baseball put users in control of a fake team made up of real players that produced computer-generated outcomes based on the players quantitative strengths and weaknesses.
In 1963, Wilfred “Bill the Gill” Winkenbach, a limited partner in the Oakland Raiders, took this idea a step further on the west coast and developed a Fantasy Football system and rulebook with Raiders publicist Bill Tunnel and journalist Scotty Stirling. The enthusiasm behind their inaugural league of the GOPPPL(Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League) spread throughout California sports bars where groups of friends formed their own leagues.
In 1980, Fantasy Baseball got a boost when the statistical concept behind Strat-O-Maticwas adapted to use MLB player stats during the on-going season. Magazine writer Daniel Okrentcreated the scoring system and was joined by friends in New York City restaurant La Rotisserie Francaiseto play the first game over a lunch. Aptly coined the Rotisserie League, their league was the inspiration for other “Rotisserie” scoring Fantasy Baseball leagues including the oldest continuously operating league since 1981, The Roach Motel Leagueat Columbia University.
The popularity of Fantasy Baseball and Football continued to slowly grow; but with the advent of the Internet in the mid 1990’s came the rapid ascension of Fantasy Sports.
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