Since its creation in the mid-20th century, fantasy sport has become a significant part of international sport and its history. Once an obscure subculture of statistics-obsessed sports fans, fantasy sport now constitutes a cultural phenomenon with 59.3 million North American participants in 2017 and with tens of millions more throughout the world. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, North American participants alone spend an average of $556 a year on fantasy sport and related materials, amounting to almost $33 billion in annual revenue. With this level of fan interest and earning capacity, fantasy sport is now a major force within the global sport industry.
To come to a nuanced understanding of the history of sport over the past sixty or seventy years, one must be able to comprehend and contextualize the importance of fantasy sport. While brief histories of fantasy sport have appeared in print, little research has been done into the conditions of possibility—the historical, economic, political, and social forces—that spurred its emergence and growth. To address this omission, IJHS will publish a special issue dedicated to original and nuanced genealogies of fantasy sport that take up some or all of the following questions:
- Why and how did specific fantasy sports or fantasy sport in general emerge at the times and locations that they/it did?
- What historical, economic, political, and social factors led to the creation of fantasy sport, and how do these factors give us a better understanding of fantasy games, of sport, and of the cultures involved?
- How can sport history help to explain the appeal and the popularity of fantasy sport today?
- Which historical factors help to explain the variations in fantasy sport gameplay paradigms in different sports and/or in different cultures?
- What insights can specific historical factors offer regarding the innovations and developments that have occurred in fantasy sport over time (e.g., the emergence of daily fantasy sports)?
- How might historical factors predict the future of fantasy sport?
- How have real-world sports shaped their fantasy correlatives, and/or vice versa?
- What roles have gender and race played in the historical development of fantasy sport?
- What role have socio-economic factors played in the evolution of fantasy sport?
- How have media and technology shaped fantasy sport and/or vice versa?
- What is the historical relationship between fantasy sport and video games?
- How has fantasy sport been conceived of and played within or across cultures?
- How have conventional gameplay paradigms been co-opted or subverted throughout the history of fantasy sport?
- How has fantasy sport shaped statistics/statistical analysis and/or vice versa?
- What unique communities have been fostered and sustained by fantasy sport? And, what values, practices, ethics, and attitudes do such communities share?
In addressing these questions, this special issue will approach the field of history in a broad sense. While fundamentally historical, it will also be interdisciplinary in nature, welcoming work by scholars of sport in related disciplines, including, but not limited to, communication studies, journalism, media studies, sport management, philosophy, American studies, and law. Of particular interest are historical analyses of fantasy sport that offer unique perspectives on sport and fandom, as well as on the various cultures related to them.
If you are interested in having your work considered for this special issue of IJHS, please submit a 300-word abstract by February 15th, 2019 to Andrew J. Ploeg at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submission of first drafts (8,000 to 10,000 words, including endnotes) is September 15th, 2019, and the deadline for final drafts is May 15th, 2020. The target date for publication of the special issue is late 2020 or early 2021. Please direct all questions to Andrew J. Ploeg.