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An online game is costing American companies millions of dollars

It began as a way for NFL  football fans to be more involved in the game, to feel like they were in charge of a team. It has evolved into a huge undertaking where millions obsess over who starts at quarterback and who to trade at receiver. Fantasy football is here to stay and estimates are that over 24 million American’s play the game at home and at work. It’s the at work part that tends to distress employers who say they lose up to $6.5 billion dollars during a season.

In fantasy football there are “team owners” who draft, trade, and manager their own team. Points are compiled for that team by its players in a complicated system that takes into account everything from touchdowns to tackles.

Richard Linihan has been a fantasy football player since 1981 in Tulsa. He helped us put that in perspective “Mike Quick was one of my first draftees for the Eagles, the wide receiver” he noted. “He’s gotta be in his 50’s now” Richard laughed out loud. He also admits that even as a football purist, being a player has changed his perspective “you do watch the game differently” he said. While Richard has been able to keep the game and his involvement in perspective, not everyone can. One of those who struggled was his sister “if you put a blood pressure thing on her at the end of Sunday night, you’d probably have to call 911” he laughed. Richard told KRMG his sister quit playing just in time “she got out of the league this year finally and she said it was such a blessing” he said.

Listen to the extended interview with Richard here.

The average time a player spends working on his team at work is estimated at over five hours according to the firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Those players are looking for numbers that tell them who to play and what trade might win them a title. Richard said that is easier with computer technology “they have full time IT teams at CBS Sports just for fantasy football” he began. “You can call if you’re having trouble with your league and submit questions, it’s just crazy how it’s exploded and come along.”

For those like Richard who can play without damaging their personality or their jobs there are some rewards, cash rewards. “Last year the winner got $700.00 dollars, or a little more” Richard said. His league also pays out something for second and third but not quite enough to offset the $160.00 entry fee.

Richard told KRMG he handles things pretty well but does struggle with some loyalty issues. “If you have a favorite team and one of your players is playing against that team, you have a very strong feeling that you’re something awfully wrong when you root for that player to score against your favorite team” he chuckled.

Millions across America are having that feeling this Monday morning, you may be one of them. If not, then get back to work so you can make up for the time your co-worker is wasting in the office next to you.

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