Are you one of the 35 million North Americans that can claim to be a participant in fantasy sport? Are you that person that follows 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 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 several publications focusing on motivations for play, message board use in the fantasy sport experience, and fantasy sport user life cycle. Several pieces, in press, also focus on fantasy sport and team identification, gender and fantasy sport, media use with the activity, and a comparison of traditional sport fans and fantasy sport users. Ruihley is also contributing 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 has been invited to the Fantasy Sport Trade Association annual 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, Yahoo!, and Fox Sports. In the most recent project, Billings and Ruihley are co-authoring 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.