At least one hundred million Americans are expected to watch the Super Bowl later today, and several million of them will know first-hand just how hard it is to build a championship team. They've learned by playing an online sport that could be called "fan-tastic" (emphasis on the word FAN). Our Cover Story is reported by Mark Strassmann:
For millions of football fans, the team that really matters won't be playing in Super Bowl XLIX. This team is not even real, but the season-long anguish over it sure is.
It's fantasy football. More than 27 million Americans now play in leagues, and it generates more than a billion dollars every year.
Fantasy football is so real, it has revolutionized the way fans watch the NFL.
Matthew Berry, 45, has built an empire on fantasy. He's ESPN's senior "Fantasy Football" analyst.
"That's actually a job?" asked Strassmann.
"Oh, yeah, yeah," said Berry. "You look at the business card and you're like, 'Really?' I'm surprised, as well; I'm just as surprised as you that it's a real job, but that is my actual title."
It wasn't Berry's dream job; back when he was dreaming about jobs, this one didn't exist. Berry started playing fantasy sports as a 14-year-old growing up in College Station, Texas.
It wasn't for everybody. "Oh, of course not," he said. "It was very niche, very sort of nerdy. This is before personal computers were commonplace, so you did your stats by hand.
"I was a bit of an outcast as a kid, so I was looking for -- I think, probably like a lot of 14-year-olds -- something, anything, that just wanted me to be a part of it."