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Hayden Goethe, Published July 06 2011

Goethe: NFL lockout's impact on fantasy football already being felt

Fargo - There is one group of people that might not miss the National Football League: bosses.

As the NFL’s lockout has carried into July, concerns over whether or not the season will start on time – or at all – intensify.

This will hit home for the average American in a few different ways. Will there be games for parents to take their sons and daughters to this year? Will residents in training-camp locations like Mankato, Minn., endure the economic impact – or lack thereof – if training camp is canceled? Will FX’s comedy “The League” – the best show you’re not watching – still be as good as it was last year without an NFL season to base it around?

But the biggest punch to the gut for football fans will be the loss of fantasy – don’t call it “make-believe” – football.

An estimated 32 million people in the United States and Canada play fantasy football. The industry brings in about $800 million per year.

By this time, fantasy football league commissioners are usually planning their drafts and making sure they have a full league of participants.

That’s not so this year. In fact, a number of fantasy football publishers haven’t even bothered to print 2011 publications due to the lockout.

I’ve been playing fantasy football for about a dozen years now, and running my own league for the last three years. Off the top of my head, I could go season-by-season and tell you how my team has done, what years it won the championship, and what players got the team those titles.

During the NFL season, I frequently spend Sundays and Mondays – which fortunately for me are typically my days off – obsessing over the performance of the imaginary group of players I have assembled, sporting imaginary “Domino Kings” uniforms.

And when things don’t go my way after the week’s games, I get up Tuesday morning and immediately start scouring the waiver wire for players that I think could turn my team’s fortunes in the right direction. I would ask myself – and others – questions like, “Will Randy Moss bounce back?” or “Is Danny Woodhead for real?”

The process repeated itself week after week in my home and in countless others across the country.

Does anyone win if there is no football, thus no fantasy football? It might be employers.

In 2006, a consulting firm concluded that $1.1 billion per week in productivity is lost due to fantasy football. The average fantasy football player spends 10 minutes of every work day monitoring his or her teams.

With the NFL’s regular season still two months away, there’s time for a lockout to be resolved.

So fantasy football owners can put their fears to rest for now.

And get back to work!

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558 or hgoethe@forumcomm.com