Impact on Academic Achievement
Fantasy sports are playing a significant role in student achievement in mathematics. In 2007 and 2009, the University of Mississippi conducted separate surveys of 144 teachers and 342 students who participated in fantasy sports in math class. The results are compelling:
- 75% of the teachers agreed that students understood math concepts more when they used fantasy sports
- 79% of the teachers agreed that students liked learning math more when they used fantasy sports
- 51% of the teachers agreed that students’ math grades were higher when they used fantasy sports
- 81% of the teachers agreed that students came to math class with more enthusiasm when they used fantasy sports
- 66% of the teachers agreed that students stayed after class to ask questions or talk about math more when they used fantasy sports
- 71% of the teachers agreed that students’ love of mathematics increased when they used fantasy sports
- 92% of the teachers agreed that Fantasy Sports and Mathematics was easy to implement as part of their math curriculum.
These results paint a telling picture - fantasy sports are motivating students, increasing academic achievement, and helping students to acquire a love for mathematics. The games also help eliminate discipline problems and reduce absenteeism. Most importantly, fantasy sports are helping students succeed.
The findings of the student survey are here
Fantasy sports are used in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and higher education. In the latter case, a class of 80 student athletes at Humboldt State University participated in fantasy football. Thirty-eight percent of the students received A's on the pretest. That number increased to 83% on the post-test.
The games are changing lives, both academically and socially. Some of these stories are illustrated in the documentary film on YouTube (link is on the main menu to the left). Fantasy sports are also helping families to connect, as students get help selecting their teams from their fathers, brothers, and grandparents.
At some schools, everyone is playing: Students, teachers, administrators, staff, and parents. "Draft Nights" are common, where parents and students come to school to draft their teams together. School community is promoted. New friendships are formed. Fantasy sports are also helping to empower girls and break down the gender gap. Girls report that fantasy sports are “cool,” and that the games help them to relate to the boys as equals. Simply put, fantasy sports can help reduce math illiteracy in America. Now imagine if NFL players visited schools to draft fantasy teams to compete against the students. Student motivation would be off-the-charts!
This is critical, because millions of students are currently doing anything they can to get out of taking math courses in high school and college. The result will be a nation that will not be equipped to meet the technological needs of the future.
Many teachers commented that they spent more time than they had planned when they started the games, but after a few weeks a routine was established and the time commitment decreased, often substantially. Teachers stated that the time they invested paid huge dividends. Many comments were similar to these:
“Since this was my first time using the program it took my students and I a little while to get started. Now that we have been working on it and gotten into a routine it has become much easier.”
“It took awhile to explain and show students what to do but once they caught on it really took off.”
“The initial kickoff takes awhile but it is worth the investment! I use the model that is fraction intensive and my students are doing so much better with fraction manipulation!”
“The amount of time spent decreases as the season goes on. My students needed a lot of time and assistance at first - by week 4, they were working independently and quickly.”
The data also indicates that once girls get a taste of the competition, learn a little bit about football, and discover that they can beat the boys, they become more motivated. Forty-three percent of the teachers who responded agreed that boys are slightly more motivated than girls, while 37% percent of the respondents agreed that girls and boys are motivated the same. Many comments were similar to these:
“Girls seemed more hesitant to get started, but I don't see much difference now that we have been using the program for 9 weeks.”
“Many girls start out not interested, but quickly become involved.”
“Girls are into the scoring as much as the boys. Both rush to the bulletin board every Tuesday once all data is updated.”
“The girls are much more motivated to do math this year than in the past. The boys and girls are equally motivated with the sports aspect, but it's helping the girls enjoy math - as well as boys who didn't previously enjoy it.”
“More boys seem to be excited at first, but the girls soon get excited also.”
“It takes the girls a little while to warm up. The boys like it more at first. However, once the girls start to compete with the boys they get really excited about playing and want to score their stats quickly.”
“The girls were hesitant at first but really got into it. I love the fact that they don't have to know about football to play the game.”
“Our number one team in the school is a girl's team. Seven of our top 10 are girls. They have been just as excited as the boys have to check their scores and stats.”
“My girls seem to be about as excited as the boys. Overall, I have noticed that I am reaching students of both genders that have never been interested in math.”
The data also indicates that students (especially girls) are asking family members for help, which has considerable implications for family dynamics as families play fantasy sports together or help each other with their teams. Witness the comments below:
“Girls tend to really care but not know as much about football. They ask questions and often get help from brothers or dads.”
“I was REALLY worried about this. But, the girls have really bought into it as much as the boys. In fact, many have recruited relatives that "know" much more then they do to help construct their team. Many have talked about spending a lot of time with brothers, or fathers. I think that's been a tremendous benefit.”
Thank you to all the teachers who took the time to take the survey.