This study examines fantasy football players and their leagues because sports are a large and influential aspect of society, with fantasy football as an emerging form of sport spectatorship that has recently gained widespread popularity. From leagues we can learn more about the social identity of sports fans and the meaning behind identifying oneself as a fantasy football player. I also examine the presence of masculinities within fantasy sports along with their influence with respect to the significant population of women affiliated with sports. Further, I explore emotional elements that are embedded within sports and how those factors apply to sports spectators with respect to masculinity, collective group identities, and behaviors. This study analyzes fantasy football leagues as its own unique subculture in comparison to "traditional" populations of sports fans. In doing this, I will illustrate some of the greater cultural elements of sports fan populations along with how fantasy football players align with and distinguish themselves from traditional fans. I accomplished this by interviewing fantasy football players and comparing their experiences with literature related to traditional sports fans. The core argument is that fantasy football players possess many of the representative qualities of traditional sports fans but they represent a different type of fan with different cultural elements, a hyperactive fan. I use in-depth interviewing and participant observation of men that participate in online fantasy football leagues. I found that fantasy football players do indeed possess many of the representative qualities of traditional sports fans but the experiences of those who participate and identify themselves as fantasy football players are different than traditional sports fans by way of organized group membership, vicarious competition, elevated media consumption, and a league-wide focus. There are many characteristics that these two subcultures share but there is enough information pointing to the fact that fantasy football players represent a unique subculture within the subculture of National Football League Fans.


Emily Boyd

Committee Member

Dennis Waskul

Committee Member

Cindra Kamphoff

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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