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Of Reality TV and Fantasy Sports

In thinking about the crazy times that we live in, I have a couple observations about TV and sports. The current generation has witnessed the rise in reality TV and fantasy sports. Both of which are opposite to what each form of entertainment usually has to offer.

Fantasy and sports are seemingly at odds. No doubt there are many fans who like to live in the imaginary world of what might have been, though these are usually fans of losing teams. Or worse yet, they are know-it-all Monday morning quarterbacks. But the fact remains that championships are decided by the actual feats on the real field of play. The innovation of fantasy sports has created a measurable outlet for statistics-obsessed super-fan to match his trivial knowledge against that of his counterparts across.

On the other hand we have reality TV, which also would seem to be a contradiction in terms. Tradionally TV has offered a healthy dose of fiction. The term "reality" marks a departure from fictional story lines, but is still a bit of a misnomer, since the contraints of the game are certainly contrived. The editing choices of producers shape the finished product also resulting in a contrived product. Opinionated judges serve a flashpoint for people to love or hate, though often little else.

Despite the above contrivances, some show formats in reality TV have outcomes determined in part or whole by the audience, not a panel of judges. The appeal of this type of reality TV show is the same appeal that fantasy sports has. Each gives a conduit for viewers to be able to become participants.

All of this raises the question of why some people seem compelled to participate in this way? While I don't have the answer, I do have some guesses. Perhaps people have all along had the desire to interact, and the means is only now becoming available. Perhaps it helps people who are alone to connect to something larger. Perhaps these are profit machines for corporate entertainment conglerates. I leave the final determination of these facts to other parties.

by Cameron Hatch
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