In response to Jay Caspian Kang's New York Times article
I submitted the following letter to the New York Times in response to Jay Caspian Kang’s article about Daily Fantasy Sports (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/06/magazine/how-the-daily-fantasy-sports-industry-turns-fans-into-suckers.html?_r=1). I assume it will not be published, (as I am not a very good writer!) but wanted to share it here anyways.
Full disclosure: I don’t have a gambling problem. I’ve never played online poker in my life. Hell, I don’t even like to sports-bet all that much.
But I love Daily Fantasy Sports, and have been profitably playing for more than three years. Truth be told – I do not typically read the New York Times but when I came across your recent column by Jay Caspian Kang on DFS, I felt compelled to write in.
But probably not for the reasons you think.
I’m not going to defend DraftKings and FanDuel because frankly, they’ve dropped the ball more times than they’d probably like to admit. Whether it be the multi-entering scripts or the bum-hunting issues, there are plenty of things about daily fantasy sports that can be improved. But that’s not what I’m planning on writing about today.
I’m also not going to take the authors accusation of being “taken advantage of” overly serious. His critique of facing players with multiple lineups is easily side-stepped by entering single entry contests, which exist in abundance on both sites named in the article.
I’m not going to harp on Gabriel Harber’s harsh stance either. Much of what Crazy Gabey said has roots in truth. The unwillingness of many industry leaders to acknowledge these issues is much of the reason these slanderous stories are being printed to begin with. But that’s a discussion for another time.
What I will do is expand on what Jay Caspian Kang set out to do in his original article; Discuss the “bro” culture that comes along with DFS.
When I was a kid, I loved sports. I played sports in high school, continued into college with intramural leagues, and even after graduation I played pickup hoops and flag football nearly every weekend through my 20’s. It was a way to meet people, bond with friends new and old, and spend time enjoying something that I love: sports.
I am now 34 years old, and the National Sales Director for a start up healthcare IT company. My job is incredibly demanding and my travel schedule is absolutely brutal. I have an amazing and beautiful wife at home who also works a high stress, 60 hour a week job and a two year old son who I love more than anything in this world.
I am your typical Daily Fantasy Sports player.
My day starts at 6am when the kid wakes up and winds down sometime around 11p. The 16 hours in between are filled with conference calls, frantic emails, family dinners, bedtime stories and usually a nightcap of Macallan 12 when it’s been a bad day.
I don’t have time for pickup games anymore. I’ve lost touch with the majority of my old hoops buddies, and there were days when I missed those relationships immensely.
Daily Fantasy Sports has helped with that.
Every day, I look forward to talking about Daily Fantasy Sports with my “friends”. I say “friends” because truth be told, I haven’t met most of the people that I talk to everyday face to face. When I first got into DFS in 2011, my best friend and two of his college buddies shared my passion, so we started a group chat to share ideas, discuss lineup advice, and generally BS the way I used to on the basketball court.
Fast-forward to today, the group chat now consists of 43 people. Friends of friends who started playing DFS and enjoyed the chat so much that they never left. Some members are more active than others, but each is incredibly sharp and passionate about the game. About 10 of us contribute daily. The core of our conversation is DFS, but we talk about other things that friends talk about throughout the day as well, the way I used to do on the basketball court. We have a golf guy, a hockey guy. A couple basketball guys, and a few guys that are good at everything.
We don’t have a DinkPiece in our group. No AlSmizzle’s. We aren’t in this to quit our jobs and live off of our DFS income, but we have had successes. A few 5-figure scores. An eyelash away from a live final. One of our guys bought an RV with his winnings. We are the demographic the big sites are trying to reach.
The constant negative portrayal of Daily Fantasy Sports, and more specifically the derogatory portrayal of it’s enthusiasts, has rubbed me the wrong way.
We aren’t all former poker sharks waiting to prey on new players. We aren’t all computer programmers hammering out scripts to gain an edge by entering 100 unique lineups. We also aren’t all slack-jawed mouth breathers, too stupid to realize that those people do in fact exist. We are sports fans.
We play because we love it – not solely to chase some million-dollar dream. We play so we have something to talk about between meetings and to give us a reason to check box scores on the tarmac. We play because it’s a new puzzle every day that we enjoy solving.
We play because Daily Fantasy Sports has brought us together with a group of individuals whose brains think critically, and passion runs deep. We play because we are competitors who love a challenge.
If my group if “friends” is anything like the overall ecosystem of DFS, we play to stay connected.
We are teachers and entrepreneurs and pharmacists who love Daily Fantasy Sports. And I can promise Jay Caspian Kang one thing;
We are definitely not suckers.