How Fantasy Sports Explains The World Book Review

How Fantasy Sports Explains the World: What Pujols and Peyton Can Teach Us About Wookiees and Wall Street

by AJ Mass

Grade: B
Teacher’s Comments: disjointed and random; entertaining nonetheless

How Fantasy Sports Explains The World is disjointed, random and full of non sequiturs. That said, I enjoyed it immensely.

Author AJ Mass is a “professional Fantasy Sports Analyst” (only in America in the 21st century could such a thing be a profession) who works for ESPN. Although I’m a dedicated fantasy footballer, I’ve never paid any attention to him in past. Maybe I should. If the book is any indication, he’s a statistics nut and not afraid to think out of the box—exactly my kind of guy.

One thing needs to made clear at the outset, though: reading this book will get you only marginally closer winning your fantasy league—if at all. While Mass tries to draw conclusions from his stream-of-consciousness stories, they’re of the most trivial sort.

Rather, the book is entertaining as a look inside the mind of an obsessed fantasy sports guy. Mass takes apparently unconnected incidents—such as his career as a card dealer, astronomers’ search for Planet X and the trial of the West Memphis Three—and connects them (sometimes tenuously) to the world of (fantasy) sports. It’s sort of like the fantasy sports version of that old television series Connections, or of Freakonomics, which has chapters that posit questions such as “How Is A Beauty Queen Like A Crack Dealer?”

In one chapter, Mass digresses to the subject of Ghost Hunters, and a demon he may or may not have encountered in his college dorm room. He then uses this as a launchpad for a brief discussion of how confirmation bias can affect your fantasy sports analysis. In another, he discusses the Founding Fathers, the Electoral College and how Fantasy Owners may use their trade veto power to their own advantage. Thinking about the Star Wars films leads him to believe that in fantasy sports, sort term gain may come at the expense of long term progress.

I found “How Fantasy Sports” to be an entertaining read, but your mileage will vary. If you enjoy fantasy sports, or quirky out of the box thinking, I think you’ll enjoy this book. People looking for a more traditional “sports” title should stay away.

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