Who Made It Fantasy Football?
The groundwork for Fantasy Football was laid in 1962, when Oakland Raiders limited partner Bill Winkenbach and two other men began developing rules for a league inside of a New York City hotel. Winkenbach created and participated in betting leagues for golf and baseball as well, and thought a league for football would be another fun challenge. He would end up being the first Fantasy Football league commissioner.
In 1963, the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Procrastinators League (GOPPPL) began, allowing participants to draft players and receive points each week, based on how well their players performed. Information on statistics came from newspapers each week and all of the players were scored on homemade score sheets. Mostly football insiders and close friends participated in the league, since no Internet existed to make the game more accessible, and none of the creators truly made any money from the creation, aside from league prizes.
The first public fantasy league did not come until 1969 inside of an Oakland bar, opening the floodgates for other leagues to begin and for Fantasy Football to gain momentum.
As the NFL continued changing, so did the popularity of Fantasy Football. With stricter pass interference rules, the creation of bye weeks, and better players entering the league, more Americans began participating in the Fantasy leagues. In 1989, more than one million people were playing. By 2013, twenty million more people joined in. Today over 60 million people participate in Fantasy leagues each year, and dozens of fantasy football sites have been created over time.
Though most people do not know Winkenbach's name, his legacy still comes to light each September. Though the game has changed immensely since its creation, mostly due to the creation of the Internet and sites like DraftKings or Yahoo! Sports, his spirit still remains.