UC faculty member forms research career around fantasy sport

Brody Ruihley

Are you one of the 33 million North Americans who can claim to be a participant in fantasy sport? Are you that person following statistics on the scrolling bottom line to find out how your quarterback, pitcher, or point guard performed? Are you the person that is experiencing conflicting loyalty between your hometown team and your fantasy team? Or, are you the person that has to put up with coworkers, friends, and family constantly talking about his or her fantasy team? Rooted in marketing, business, mass communication, digital technology, and sport administration, fantasy sport has found a way to enter our lives and tip the consumption scales taking it from, a once considered, niche hobby, to a powerful industry full of history and potential.

One UC faculty member is forming a research career around the activity. Dr. Brody J. Ruihley, assistant professor of sport administration, is examining, learning, presenting, and publishing on activities surrounding fantasy sport.  With a dissertation topic focused on motivations and outcomes of fantasy play, Ruihley found much interest in the topic and as a result has formed a research career around this activity. Ruihley has recently co-authored a text focusing on the entire experience of fantasy sport entitled The fantasy sport industry: Games within games.  In addition, Ruihley has several publications focusing on fantasy sport in the areas of motivations for play, traditional sport fandom comparisons, gender differences, media usage, message board utilization, team identification, and fantasy sport user life cycle. Ruihley has also contributed to fantasy sport knowledge in two book chapters with texts revolving around sport communication and new media in sport.

Ruihley’s work has peaked the interest of the Fantasy Sport Trade Association. Along with research partner Dr. Andrew Billings (University of Alabama), Ruihley is an annual invited guest speaker at the Fantasy Sport Trade Association conference held in Las Vegas, NV. Ruihley and Billings present their research each January to industry and media professionals representing companies like ESPN, CBS Sports, SiriusXM, Yahoo!, and Fox Sports. As mentioned, the most recent project, from Billings and Ruihley, is a text focusing on the fantasy sport industry.  The Fantasy Sport Industry: Games within Games, contracted through Routledge, focuses on shining a bright light on the fantasy sport industry. Utilizing a mixed-method approach of industry interviews and quantitative survey of participants, the text examines everything from participant characteristics, industry professionals, and motivations, to high stakes, dropouts, and relationship with the media. Ruihley is excited that this text will share some key information about the industry with students and scholars alike.