WinView Games: How We Got Here
Rick Wolf takes you through the history of fantasy sports and the evolution of the industry that has lead us to the WinView Games experience
Many don’t know that fantasy sports started with GOLF. In 1955, Bill Winkenbach started a fantasy golf game with his friends. Seven years later, in 1962, he was a minority owner of the Oakland Raiders and created the first ever fantasy football league, The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL). They were the only known fantasy football league for seven years until a local bar in Oakland began proliferating fantasy football leagues in the area starting in 1969.
In 1961, Hal Richman started a company called Strat-o-Matic and although the concept was not real-time performances and was based on dice rolls, it was largely the inspiration for fantasy baseball. In 1962, William Gameson, a Harvard Professor, began giving Baseball Seminars. Many of the people responsible for the explosion of fantasy baseball attended those seminars including Daniel Okrent, who invented a scoring system for fantasy sports dubbed Rotisserie in 1979 and is often credited with founding fantasy sports. His work and the 1984 publishing of The Official Rules for Rotisserie Baseball by Glen Waggoneer created 150,000 leagues by 1989.
In 1987, software to run fantasy leagues became available on the shelves of department stores and dial-up bulletin boards. Stats services cropped up all over the country to service these 150,000 leagues. In the early 1990s, this software became available on AOL and PRODIGY as a download for your PC. Terry Bradshaw Football and Cal Ripken Baseball were the most popular along with the Baseball Manager simulation subscription service on PRODIGY that is still around today.
Then the Internet came!
Throughout the late 1990s, the Internet breathed energy into fantasy sports with CBS Sports leading the way and the fantasy sports concept went viral as the first social network. In the early 2000s, major media and leagues took notice and it exploded into mainstream consciousness.
In October 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act changed the landscape of fantasy sports by specifically carving out fantasy sports in a way that made daily leagues legal at least under federal law. Each state had its own laws, but it gave rise to many companies diving into the daily fantasy sports pool. FanDuel and DraftKings emerged and saturated the marketplace with advertising and relationships that made it impossible for anyone in America to not know about fantasy football.
At the same time, many major broadcast networks and regional sports networks tried to figure out how to keep up with technology and like fantasy sports, MAKE THE GAMES MORE FUN TO WATCH.
Many applications attempted to create engagement, contests and for lack of a better word ACTION during the broadcasts of the games. At the time, I was in business development for NBC Sports digital and saw so many pitches on products and services for the fan to get closer to the game.
Well, that is where WINVIEW GAMES comes in. If you are still reading this, you already are interested in making the games more fun to watch, engaging with like-minded sports fans and playing in contests for real money while you do it.