Going global: fantasy sports gameplay paradigms, fan identities and cultural implications in an international context
Ploeg, A. J.
European Journal of Cultural Studies
724 - 743
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This article investigates the cultural implications of the internationalization of contemporary fantasy sports. In particular, it exposes previously unexplored distinctions between season-long North American and European fantasy sports (the two most prominent world markets). In order to contextualize these distinctions, first, this article provides a concise history of both North American and European fantasy sports, delineating briefly the philosophies that shaped them. Second, it examines the contrasting paradigms (i.e., the models by which fantasy sports are imagined, designed and played) of North America and Europe’s most popular fantasy sports – North American and European football – paradigms that reflect to various extents the hypercommodification and dehumanization of the athletes involved. On the basis of this examination, the article argues that the two frameworks produce disparate fan identities – that of ‘owners’ in North American fantasy football and of ‘managers’ in European fantasy football. Third, it makes a case for three possibilities as to how and why these differences may have arisen. Thus, the article utilizes the differences in the two models as a foundation for its contentions regarding the potential reasons for these distinctions and their cultural significance. This article forms part of the Special Issue ‘On the Move’, which marks the twentieth anniversary of European Journal of Cultural Studies. © 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.