Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fantasy Sports: Is There an Educational Value?

Yahoo! Fantasy Sports app for iPhone & BlackBerryImage by Yodel Anecdotal via FlickrI must admit that I am a Fantasy Sport nut. I play Fantasy Football, Baseball, College Basketball Pick 'Ems, etc. I enjoy the process of ranking players, studying their statistics, drafting, trades, free agents, and game day match ups. It is a glimpse into the world of General Managers and Administration for professional athletic team.

But do Fantasy Sports have educational value? Could a teacher use Fantasy Sports to teach students about mathematics, statistics, management, communication, marketing, research, etc.? I say the answer is yes.

Let's think about this together. A teacher could task students to participate in a Fantasy Football league for the 2011 NFL season. It is a project that could be a part of a Sports Marketing, or Probability and Statistics class. Students would research and apply the concepts of:
  • Good research practices by ranking their players based on analysis provided by experts
  • Management techniques in order to draft a team based on need
  • Communication techniques in order to facilitate trades, free agents, etc.
  • Statistical Analysis techniques in order to understand, predict and set their lineup on a week-to-week basis, based on trends, match-ups, and previous performances.
  • Marketing techniques to showcase their team within their league and to outside viewers.
  • Collaboration / Teamwork techniques if they were to be paired with a partner.
  • Critical Thinking skills necessary to make last minute adjustments to the lineup.
  • College and Career Readiness skills such as independence, using technology and digital media strategically, valuing evidence, etc.
A teacher could become very creative with how far to extend a project such as this. Students could be tasked to critique, analyze, predict, and review both their team's performance and that of their competition. (Obviously in a constructive and positive manner.)

With football season in full swing, and millions of Americans spending time managing, monitoring, and evaluating their Fantasy teams - I paused and thought of the potential educational value of this rapidly growing event for men, and women of all ages. The more opportunities we as educators provide our students to use real-world, authentic learning practices, while ensuring they are growing and developing the necessary skills and knowledge, the better we begin to prepare them for life after our walls.

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