Foucault’s Fantasy League: An Examination of Power Relationships in Fantasy Sports

by Michael Dennis



The massive rise in popularity of fantasy sports in the U.S. and around the world, from the first “Rotisserie” fantasy baseball leagues in New York to the more recent and wildly popular one-week leagues FanDuel and DraftKings, has been examined through a number of critical lenses: economic, legal, demographic, etc. However, very few words have been spent on the philosophical implications of fantasy sports and the abiding cultural choke-hold that they currently exercise. One of the preeminent philosophers and social critics of the 20th century, Michel Foucault (1926-1984), devoted the vast majority of his oeuvre to the concepts of power and subjectivity, namely how power relationships at various levels render individuals as subjects. This paper will argue that participation in fantasy sports leagues is not merely a hobby or a business model, but rather a form of postindustrial subjectivity under the episteme of our age. I will explore how cultural “givens” in our (United States/North American) society such as the pervasive consumption of sports programming function as an example of Foucault’s concept of power/knowledge, as well as how participation in fantasy sports, whether individually or as part of an office or other social group, has become a “norm” to be conformed to. I will also seek to show how various forms of media, in their structures as well as their deployment, contribute to the formation of a docile body who participates in fantasy sports. Finally, I will examine how Foucault’s ideas of self-examination and self-care as practices of freedom might operate in terms of engagement with the subjectivity of fantasy sports.

Keywords: Philosophy; Poststructuralism; Sociology; Fantasy Sports, Subjectivity


<1> Fantasy sports is a multi-billion dollar industry which boasts a staggering 20% participation among teens and adults in the United States (“Industry Demographics”). Its meteoric rise in popularity, from the first “Rotisserie” fantasy baseball leagues in New York to the more recent and wildly popular one-day or one-week leagues on sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings, has been examined through a number of critical lenses: economic, legal, demographic, etc. However, very few words have been spent on the philosophical implications of fantasy sports and the abiding cultural dominance that they currently exercise. What is it within men and women in today’s Western society that draws them to spend so much time studying another human’s ability to catch, throw, run, or shoot? Is society’s obsession with fantasy sports merely coeval with the simultaneous advents of sports as business and nearly universal access to television and the internet, or is there something deep-seeded in human behavior that creates this attraction?

<2> Michel Foucault (1926-1984), one of the preeminent philosophers and social critics of the 20th century, devoted the vast majority of his writings to the concepts of power and subjectivity, namely how power relationships at various levels render individuals as subjects. This paper will seek to examine the power relationships at work within fantasy sports, as well as argue that participation in fantasy leagues is not merely a hobby or a business model, but rather a form of postindustrial subjectivity under the episteme of our age. We will begin with a brief history of the fantasy sports industry, followed by a concise summary of Foucault’s understanding of power relationships, including his concepts of disciplinary power, power/knowledge, and subjectivity. From there, these models for understanding power will be applied to various relationships present within the constructs of fantasy sports. We will conclude by exploring how Foucault’s ideas of self-awareness and practices of freedom might operate in terms of engagement with the subjectivity of fantasy sports.

Fantasy Sports: A Brief History

<3> Though various primitive versions of fantasy sports have been around for over 50 years [1], most fantasy sports historians recognize the genesis of the game’s modern advent as the formation of the first “Rotisserie Baseball League” in New York in 1980. Daniel Okrent, the league’s creator and founder, describes the impetus for its development as follows:

Hadn’t we been appraising talent all our lives?…Assembling a collection of baseball cards, playing two-man stoopball while doing an eight-year-old’s version of a play-by-play, proposing trades to hypercritical radio talk-show hosts—what were all of these preadolescent endeavors but preparation for the Rotisserie League? It wasn’t enough to watch baseball, or to study it in the box scores and leaders lists: we all wished, in some way, to possess it, to control it. (Silly Little Game 1:42-2:00)

We will return to the italicized portion of this quote later, as it provides a very interesting backdrop for our discussion of power relationships. For the time being, however, this remembrance does a masterful job of not only narrating the origins of fantasy sports as we know them, but also encapsulating the spirit of the game in the process. Okrent and a group of associates who shared varying levels of knowledge of and affection for baseball, each put $250 in a “pot” that would eventually go to the winner of the league. They staged a draft, where players were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and teams were formed. Stats were monitored for each player and team in the local and national newspapers, and rankings were kept throughout the 1980 Major League Baseball season. Trades were made throughout the season (including a rather notorious one involving a dress shirt in exchange for Bill Buckner), shifting players around based on their owner’s perception of their value. Marilyn Johnson, the former wife of one of the league’s original players, describes the situation like this:

I mean, psychologically, it’s a little pathetic, right? They think they own these people. And they’re pretend—it’s a pretend game…They turned into cartoons of themselves. These are—these were serious editors. I mean, they were putting out serious magazines. And they—you know, the best years of their lives were spent calculating how they could pretend to buy someone for a dol—you know it’s just… (Silly Little Game 25:16-25:38)

However ridiculous outsiders might have perceived (or still perceive) the Rotisserie League, their impact on the future of sports cannot be denied. Their “silly little game” set the stage for fantasy sports to explode in popularity and in scope.

<4>Throughout the 1980’s, fantasy baseball grew more and more popular, with leagues popping up all over the country, and with national publications like USA Today printing more detailed box scores and publishing articles about the game. In 1984, the inaugural “Fantasy Football Digest” was published, bringing this iteration of fantasy sport out of the dark, smoky backrooms of bars and into the national spotlight. In the 1990’s, fantasy football surpassed baseball in popularity, and other sports like basketball, golf, and soccer were added to the mix. Up to this point, all fantasy stats were calculated manually and kept on paper or stored in a home or office computer. It was not until fantasy sports began to migrate to the Internet that the game began to burgeon into a cottage industry.

<5> In 1995, as baseball and football dominated the fantasy industry, a breakthrough moment came from a somewhat unlikely source: hockey. Molson Breweries, a Canadian beer company, launched a website as part of its “I am Online” campaign that featured not only music and entertainment content, but fantasy hockey as well (McHutchion). While this seems to be the first online fantasy league of its kind, it was followed soon after in 1997 by fantasy baseball leagues like (now part of and (now (Adams). Both of these services generated significant revenue in their first years, and were eventually sold to other media conglomerates. Another leap forward came in 1999 when online giant began offering fantasy sports on their website free of charge (Yahoo). Fantasy sports rode the turbulent waves of the “dot-com” boom and bust of the early 2000’s, but emerged a multi-billion dollar industry, capitalizing on technological advances such as mobile apps as they became available. Drawing in millions of players across multiple countries each year, the business seemed to be on top of the sports gaming world. However, there was one segment of the population that had not yet been significantly tapped, and with a little political help, would eventually provide fantasy sports’ biggest windfall to date.

<6> President George W. Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIEGA) in 2006, which meant to stop the online gambling industry in its tracks, with thoroughbred horse betting and online poker being the hardest hit industries. Fantasy sports, however, was given a political and legal blessing of sorts, with daily fantasy sports avoiding mention entirely (as it had not yet been created) (Van Natta). Enter Nigel Eccles, creator of daily fantasy sports website FanDuel. Launched in 2009 in Edinburgh, Scotland, FanDuel aimed to “speed up” the game of fantasy sports to reach a new generation of player (Van Natta). Matt King, CFO of FanDuel, describes its conception during an interview with PBS’s Frontline:

Fantasy was a market that was stagnant…Despite fantasy being a large market, the younger sports fans weren’t engaging with fantasy. So, the insight was, “what if we take these mechanics around research and picking players and competing with your friends, and put it in a format that’s geared toward a very hard-to-reach but very important demographic of kind of millennial 18-35-year-olds?” Let’s make it mobile first. Let’s make it faster, and see how that goes. (“The Fantasy Sports Gamble”)

It took almost five years, but Eccles eventually got significant financial backing for his dream in 2014, launching FanDuel into the fantasy sports stratosphere (Van Natta). Meanwhile, FanDuel’s chief competitor in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) marketplace was being formed in a back bedroom in Watertown, Massachusetts. DraftKings, created by Boston entrepreneur Jason Robins and friends, began aggressively seeking to overtake FanDuel in the DFS market, securing major league sponsorships, as-yet untapped DFS events, and offering thousands of dollars in jackpots in the process. The two companies battled tooth-and-nail over the next four years, trying to one-up each another in advertising, revenue, investors, and jackpots offered to their exponentially growing customer base.

<7> In 2015, estimated revenues for daily fantasy sports numbered somewhere in the area of $280 million (Van Natta). That much success in such a short time was bound to raise some legal and political eyebrows. Throughout 2015-16, FanDuel, DraftKings, and other DFS sites faced litigation in multiple states. The main questions at hand were whether or not DFS was indeed gambling on sports or a skill-based, potentially money-making hobby. Also in dispute was whether or not DFS sites had done enough to regulate how easily high-volume, big-spending “sharks” were able to “feed” on novice players using nefarious means. While both FanDuel and DraftKings still survive as of the writing of this article, their revenues have decreased significantly, and they are still spending millions on legal battles all over the U.S. Before addressing how Foucauldian power relationships played a role in the creation, rise, and potential fall of the fantasy sports industry, we now turn our attention to defining these power structures as Foucault conceived of them.

Foucauldian Power and Subjectivity

<8> While a full examination of Foucault’s work on the questions of power and subjectivity is far too great a task for the scope of this article, we will seek to explore a few prevailing themes within Foucault’s oeuvre that speak directly to the power relationships present in fantasy sports. These themes are as follows: Foucault’s unique definition and theory of power, how disciplinary power and power/knowledge function as deployments of power, how these deployments combine to form subjects, and what the concept of freedom looks like within these sorts of interactions.

<9> In his seminal work, The History of Sexuality, Vol. I, Foucault outlines a distinctly non-traditional understanding of power. He begins by explaining very clearly what power is not:

By power, I do not mean “Power” as a group of institutions and mechanisms that ensure the subservience of the citizens of a given state… a mode of subjugation which, in contrast to violence, has the form of the rule… I do not have in mind a general system of domination exerted by one group over another, a system whose effects, through successive derivations, pervade the entire social body. (Foucault, History 92)

In other words, rather than conceiving of power as a “top-down” enterprise where sovereign rulers or states are inherently imbued with power which they exercise over the subjects below them in the societal hierarchy, Foucault sees power as coming “from below,” from the molecular level of power relationships present within the aforementioned interactions (History 94). Because power does not derive from a single person, entity, or space, Foucault concludes that “Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere” (History 93). We will end with perhaps the most concise and helpful definition of power presented in The History of Sexuality: “…power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society” (93).

<10> One unique deployment of power that Foucault explores at length is that of disciplinary power, principally in the criminal justice system. Whereas throughout the Medieval period, and even up to the 18th century, sovereign leaders had wielded the “power to take life and let live,” the early modern period introduced a new kind of power: “to make live and let die” (Foucault, Society 241). In Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Foucault explores not only how the prosecution and treatment of prisoners changed over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, but also how the various mechanisms, strategies, and even architectural spaces present within the life of a prisoner contribute to his/her formation as a subject. In summary, Foucault argues that disciplinary power works at the “cellular level of individuality” to create “docile” and “productive” bodies by isolating individuals, augmenting their individuality through a ranked hierarchy, regimenting every movement of their body according to a rigid schedule, and conforming them to arbitrary “norms” through the use of examination. Particularly important to our discussion is Foucault’s exploration of the “normalizing gaze,” whereby a constant, voyeuristic observation of subjects, combined with an increasingly pervasive schedule of examination work together to categorize and classify those individuals whose behavior is “normal” (i.e., the model prisoner) and those whose behavior is “abnormal” (those who need to be punished).

<11> Later in Discipline and Punish, Foucault gives a specific example of how this “normalizing gaze” had been employed in an actual architectural space (Bentham’s Panopticon), and how power exercised in this fashion produces what has come to be known as power/knowledge: “Thanks to its mechanisms of observation, it gains in efficiency and in the ability to penetrate into men’s behaviour; knowledge follows the advances of power, discovering new objects of knowledge over all the surfaces on which power is exercised” (Discipline 204). Thus, knowledge is not power (apologies to Sir Francis Bacon), but is rather produced by power. Gayatri Spivak, working from Foucault, puts it this way:

…if the lines of making sense of something are laid down in a certain way, then you are able to do only those things with that something which are possible within and by the arrangement of those lines. Pouvoir-savoir—being able to do something—only as you are able to make sense of it. (34)

Thus, power/knowledge is the unique way in which power determines what can and cannot be accomplished in a given strategic situation via what is or is not known or broadly accepted as fact.

<12> It is important to note at this point that “what was forged in the prison did not remain there” (May 76). The techniques and mechanisms used in prisons to create “bodies that were both efficient in performance and obedient to authority” slowly began to be deployed in other realms of society (May 76). In terms of observation, the observing of prisoners has become the almost constant surveillance of individuals, especially through the use of mobile technology. A prisoner’s strict daily routine, which he internalizes and eventually self-enforces, is mirrored in the time-clock of factory workers or the bell schedule of school children. The “power/knowledge” that a prisoner is disciplined into, namely that resistance is futile and submission brings “rewards,” is oddly similar to many of the “norms” and “givens” that exist in many societies about definitions and characteristics of race, gender, and class. This turn from the “micro” level of observing, regimenting and disciplining bodies to a broader, “macro” level of surveilling, scheduling, and producing groups of bodies is significant, both for Foucault and for our discussion, as it shows how subjects are not just produced in prison cells, but in front of televisions and in classrooms as well.

<13> The productive nature of power on the “macro” level in terms of knowledge and discourse leads us to our next stop on our tour-de-Foucault, and takes us to two of his earlier works, The Order of Discourse and The Archaeology of Knowledge. In these works, among others around the same time, Foucault seeks to show how what many refer to as “truth,” an objective, knowable, provable fact, is actually nothing more than a construct created by the prevailing power structure at work in a given historical age. Whether it is the Church, the scientific community, or mass media, there is always a force or combination of forces exerting pressure on the dominant discourse of the day. While the “normalizing gaze” of disciplinary power might aid in rendering “normal” (homogenous, docile) subjects, the “norms” to which those subjects are conformed are always already determined by power at work in knowledge and discourse.

<14> So then, if individuals are born into a situation in which what they can know and how they can speak is constrained by an already existing epistemic discourse, an obvious question arises: can a subject ever be truly free? While, again, we will not explore all that Foucault had to say on this subject, it is vital to the latter part of our discussion to establish at least a brief answer to this question. In a 1994 interview entitled “The Ethics of Care for the Self as The Practice of Freedom,” Foucault says regarding freedom:

One must observe that there cannot be relations of power unless the subjects are free. If one or the other were completely at the disposition of the other and became his thing, an object on which he can exercise an infinite and unlimited violence, there would not be relations of power. (12)

Thus, as Foucault emphasizes elsewhere, there is no power relationship without the possibility (however minute) of resistance. The freedom that Foucault argues for, however, is neither metaphysical (free will or free choice) nor political (freedom from the restraints of government). Freedom is, rather, the concrete ability of a subject to understand the constraining epistemic forces that have made them who they are, and to experiment with methods for “unmaking” themselves. For Foucault, this knowledge of oneself within a particular historical moment is not a guarantee of any kind of political freedom as we conceive it but is the starting point for any hope of resistance.

Power and Subjectivity in Fantasy Sports

<15> We now turn our attention to using our newly-acquired understanding of Foucauldian power relationships as a lens through which we can examine fantasy sports. This discussion will be divided into four subsections, and will follow Foucault’s analytical process from the basic, “molecular” level of power relationships to more broad “meta-discursive” manifestations. We will begin by examining the individual “micro” power relationships in the world of fantasy sports. To return to Daniel Okrent’s statement about the first Rotisserie league quoted at the beginning of the article: fantasy sports, at their core, are about control. However, the question must be posed: who is controlling whom? Who is exercising power, and who is being subjected by that power?

<16> Let us begin with the most basic “unit” of fantasy sports: the athlete, and his (more on this intentionally gendered pronoun later) relationship to his fantasy “owner.” In the realm of fantasy sports, and according to the rules which govern it, the fantasy owner has all of the power. With his/her panoptic gaze fixed on a draft board, athletes are categorized, ranked, and sometimes monetarily valued based on their statistics in various areas of their sport. A player’s character, work ethic, personal lifestyle or habits are almost never taken into account in an owner’s decision to choose a given player. Athletes are chattel on the auction block, sold to the highest bidder based on a series of numerical potentialities created by their ability to run, throw, catch, shoot, etc. In the documentary The Perfect Lineup (produced by daily fantasy giant FanDuel), one owner states that “You have to look at it like each person is a stock, and how much do you have invested in that stock?” Once an owner has chosen a team, complete with backups for each position, he/she can then decide (whether for one week or the entire season) which players get to “play” based on how well he/she predicts the athlete will fare that week.

<17> Before we explore how this somewhat convoluted and utterly imaginary relationship mirrors Foucault’s conception of disciplinary power, we must stop to concede one very obvious point: the athlete in this scenario is in no way controlled by his fantasy owner in what we would call the “real world.” Whether he is set to start or sit on the bench according to “Bob from Detroit’s” fantasy team has absolutely no impact on his day or week. He is likely on a myriad of fantasy teams across the continent, none of which have any bearing on his sports existence. However, here is where we must also draw the distinction between how we conceive of power relationships in the physical realm (e.g., a police officer placing handcuffs on a suspect, a slave-master whipping a slave, or a sports owner or coach choosing to bench a player) and the kind of subjectivity and power relationships that Foucault is describing in his work. Though the athlete might not be hindered or helped by his fantasy owners’ esteem of his abilities, he is still, in the minds of millions of fantasy owners, a subject within a hierarchy of (imagined) power. The athlete’s body, as represented by a cache of statistical data, is utilized by the owner for his/her benefit. It is given a numerical value, and ranked against other bodies as to their perceived utility. At the end of the week or season, the fantasy owner who has most accurately analyzed and implemented his athletes’ usefulness is awarded a prize (usually monetary) as recognition for his/her accomplishments. The athletes are rarely if ever given credit, and are given no share of the profits gained by their owner. I will not argue in any way that professional athletes are slaves or prisoners, but the ways in which Foucault’s concept of productive, disciplinary power over the body are fleshed out in the relationship between fantasy owner and athlete are striking.

<18> But, what can be said of these fantasy owners? Have they escaped subjectivity, arriving at a higher plane of existence where their actions are unconstrained by power relationships? Foucault would unequivocally say, “No.” His argument that we are all subjects in some form is clearly exemplified by the exercise of disciplinary power upon fantasy owners by those who benefit most from their participation in this “silly little game.” We will spend the remainder of this section delineating the specific ways in which the fantasy sports culture constrains fantasy sports owners through its particular brand of epistemic discourse.

<19> We begin, much as before, at the level of the individual and how his/her physical body is subjected to disciplinary power. Much like the athletes on their teams, fantasy owners are numbered, ranked, and given distinct, individualized identities within their realm. Their actions are constantly under panoptic scrutiny from other fantasy players, especially if they play online. Lineup changes, trades, etc. are regulated by strict deadlines and demarcations of time. Some players schedule their family vacations around fantasy draft dates. Upwards of 60% of players polled said that more of their time is taken up consuming sports on television and in print media because of their participation in fantasy (“Industry Demographics”). The number of players who use their mobile device to access fantasy sports websites grew from 25% in 2012 to almost 40% in 2015 (“Industry Demographics”). Individuals have been reprimanded and fired for checking their fantasy team’s progress at work (Gordon). Fantasy sports exercises an incredible amount of power to produce regimented, disciplined subjects who conform to the constraints placed on them, even to their own detriment, and to the financial loss of their employers [2].

<20> Also, fantasy owners are economically subjected. It’s estimated that the average fantasy player spends $556 per year to participate. While free leagues are available in abundance through websites like and, around 70% are willing to pay to join a league (“Industry Demographics”). What compels individuals, two-thirds of whom have a college degree of some kind, to spend a significant amount of money on a game which revolves entirely around the talents and abilities of others? Often, they are drawn by promises of large jackpots, with DFS leagues offering prizes upwards of $1 million in single night. A very small percentage of players have turned fantasy sports into a livelihood, managing to win more money than they lose by entering hundreds of lineups per day. These “big money” players often thrive at the expense of the less experienced and less technologically equipped. We will return to these DFS victims and their response to their subjectivity later in our discussion. Many more players, however, simply “pay to play” in the form of season-long league fees, with no hopes or even desire for monetary gain. If not money, then what other motivations constrain fantasy sports owners?

<21> The concept of disciplinary power as presented in Discipline and Punish not only “trains our bodies to be oriented toward particular kinds of behavior,” but also “makes us think of ourselves in certain kinds of ways,” namely as psychological beings whose greatest battles come from within, not from the society around us (May 76). Often, this means that when we feel unhappy or unfulfilled, rather than question the society in which we live, we question ourselves and attempt to treat the problem psychologically. A psychological/sociological study of fantasy sports players conducted in the mid-2000’s (admittedly before the rise of DFS leagues) found that the most common motivation for fantasy sports ownership had nothing to do with money. The vast majority of fantasy players said participating in this game made them “feel like the GM or owner of an actual sports team,” or “feel a personal sense of achievement when my fantasy team does well,” or “because it takes me away from life’s hassles” (Spinda and Haridakis 198). Even DFS sites, which attract competitors with the promise of get-rich-quick schemes, have seen the value in promoting their services as full of “excitement, thrills, camaraderie, and fantasy” (Van Natta). Thus, instead of interrogating the society that constrains them into a life of “hassles,” monotony, and meaninglessness, fantasy owners have allowed themselves to be written into the discourse that says what they really need is a hobby where they can escape from life for a while and feel meaningful. This is Foucault’s idea of power/knowledge at its finest, but is not the only realm into which the fantasy sports discourse reaches. We turn now to how concepts of gender, specifically masculinity, have been affected.

<22> In many subcultures within North America, sports fandom and fantasy sports ownership is a kind of “rite of passage” for manhood. Young boys watch their fathers and older brothers participate, then are encouraged and even recruited to join leagues when they “come of age.” In some circles, it is unheard of that a “real man” wouldn’t have some vested interest in owning a fantasy team. While there are a growing number of women entering the “brotherhood” of fantasy sports ownership, males still dominate the “sport” two to one (“Industry Demographics”). Also interesting to note is the almost complete lack of fantasy leagues based on women’s professional sports. In his book, Media Sports Stars: Masculinities and Moralities (2002), Garry Whannel, immediately after discussing Foucault’s concept of discourse formation in power-relations, makes the following statement:

The social construction of sport as a masculine domain and the exclusion of women from it have produced a set of institutions, practices, rituals and discourses that acquire increasing importance precisely as the challenge to patriarchal practices that feminist politics has been able to mount since 1970 has weakened, to a degree, hegemonic masculine control over some social spheres. Sport, by contrast, has remained a much more entrenched bastion of patriarchy and hence the ways in which masculinities are produced by its practices are of specific significance. Sport is without question a significant element in the construction of gendered identities. (10, emphasis mine)

Not only have athletes and fantasy sports owners been subjected at the “micro” level of the body, but also at the “macro” level of public perception, economic concerns, and normative gendered behavior.

<23> The question we have not yet posed is: who is doing the subjecting in these scenarios? Are the DFS site CEO’s or some other media mogul the shadowy figure pulling all the strings behind the scenes? Are athletes and fantasy sports players simply puppets whose actions are predetermined by their epistemic locale? We have briefly answered this question previously, but we will now seek to finish out our discussion by investigating the specific ways that Foucault’s concepts of freedom and subjectivity have been and continue to be worked out in the fantasy sports realm.

The Freedom in Fantasy

<24> While we might apply the practices of freedom to any of the characters mentioned previously in our drama of fantasy sports, as they all have the potential to resist their subjectivity, it seems most fitting to recognize and examine a group that has already begun to do so. As outlined in the more recent history of DFS, profits in this industry have taken a sharp drop over the last two years. Some of this decline can directly be attributed to the legal battles that FanDuel and DraftKings are facing at the state level across the U.S., and how this has negatively affected their sponsorship deals with major corporations who are skittish over the negative publicity. However, the most direct and striking reason for the reduction is the drop-off in players willing to invest their money.

<25> For many players, the legal drama has only served to make transparent a business that had previously held up a very successful façade of being a legitimate game of skill and chance where each player had equal opportunity to win. As many novice or “small money” players have realized, however, this is not the case. Those with more money to invest or more technology to employ will not only always have the upper hand, but will likely target “lesser” players in an attempt to exploit them. Many players, who had simply been tacitly accepting the various forms of power that the DFS culture had been enacting on them as subjects, have had a wake-up call. At this point, DFS players were given a choice: they could choose to act on the knowledge of their subjectivity and resist, or continue with things as they had always been. They chose to not only speak up with verbal protest, but with their bank accounts as well. It may seem a small thing to simply stop playing a “silly little game,” but it represents the foundational practice of freedom for subjects and “care of the self” that Foucault argued for in his writings. Where might this practice of freedom spread to next? Will athletes begin demanding a portion of profits made from utilizing their labor? Will DFS be overtaken by other forms of fantasy that better fit with players’ knowledge of themselves? We can only watch and wait, and if we wish, fantasize.


[1] See: Burton, Rick, Kevin Hall, and Rodney Paul. “The Historical Development and Marketing of Fantasy Sports Leagues.” The Journal of Sport, vol. 2, no 2, 2013, pp. 185-215.

[2] See: Darrow, Barb. “Employers Pay the Real Cost of Fantasy Football,” Fortune, 30 Aug. 2016,


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