Success in fantasy sports comes from physical fitness. Not from us—the web browsing masses—but from the actual athletes on our rosters. The faster, the stronger, and the more physically fit they are, the more we succeed. And we never even have to leave the couch.
Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology want to fix that irony. Combining computer programming know-how and sports psychology, they’ve built a new type of online league that transforms fantasy sports into real-world fitness.
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The league tracks members’ physical activity through wearable accelerometers. If team managers don’t reach specific weekly fitness goals, they lose league privileges. A player from their roster might randomly be dropped at the end of the week. Or they might not be allowed to request a trade, among other potential repercussions.
“A fundamental aspect of the research is to try to leverage the passion that people already have for sports to help them pay more attention to their own health,” says Arlen Moller, the project’s lead researcher.
Moller says men are less likely to join social groups that track health, unless you add in some friendly competition and a whole lot of trash talk.
As the NFL season approaches and you prepare for fantasy draft day, don’t just win a six-pack of beer for trouncing your buddies, win an actual six-pack. You can sign up to take part in Moller’s research, or you can follow these tips to shape up your own fantasy league.