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Fantasy football play costs U.S. companies millions
August 22, 2007 / 9:53 PM / in 10 years

Fantasy football play costs U.S. companies millions

NEW YORK, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Corporate America beware: NFL stars Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and Tom Brady are about to cost you hundreds of millions of dollars.

The reason is many American workers can spend nearly two hours a day consumed with fantasy football teams, according to a workplace consultancy, which on Wednesday estimated the lost productivity will cost employers nationwide up to $435 million a week over the upcoming National Football League season.

Consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc cited a recent report that suggests the average fantasy football player spends 5.2 hours online each week participating in such games, which are offered by ESPN, CBS Sports and Yahoo Inc, among others. The NFL season kicks off September 6.

Challenger pointed to another report that found 60 percent of fantasy sports fans spent more than an hour each day just thinking about their fantasy team.

“There are some people who probably wait until the workday is over to strategize, make trades and manage their teams, but many are probably doing at least some of their team tasks from the office,” Chief Executive John Challenger said.

Immensely popular, fantasy football is a game in which friends create a league with teams that draft, trade or buy real life NFL players. These fantasy teams then play one another, with scores based on real-life statistics.

Challenger cited surveys that show there are roughly 10 million Americans playing fantasy football and earning between $60,000 and $100,000 per year. Using the midpoint of the salary range, Challenger calculated that fantasy sports players earn an average of $38.45 per hour, or about $6.40 per 10 minutes.

Taking all that into account, if a worker spends just 10 minutes of work time playing fantasy football each day, then it will cost employers $275 million a week. That number could easily climb as high as $435 million, Challenger said, if workers spend more than those few minutes on the game.

But Challenger said employers may want to look the other way rather than coming down too hard on fantasy football players.

“Everyday employers lose money by paying people to take smoking breaks, go to the bathroom, refill coffee mugs and make small talk around the watercooler,” the CEO said in a statement. “Most employers understand that not every minute of every workday is dedicated to work.”

Indeed, Challenger said the damage to worker morale from banning fantasy football could prove far more costly than letting workers get away with 10 or 20 minutes of daily online team management.

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