Fantasy Sports Participation and the (de) Humanization of Professional Athletes


Exercise Science and Sport Management

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The dehumanization of professional athletes by sports fans has become a talking point for mainstream media, and fantasy sports participation is in the crosshairs. The social competition and romanticized ownership of the game spur strategy where participants theoretically utilize professional athletes in a mechanistic fashion, and as a result, may dehumanize them in the process. Previous work studying dehumanization in gaming has found outcomes related to moral disengagement and isolation. Recent research, however, found fantasy football participants actually humanize their own fantasy athletes over non-fantasy athletes. The current study looked to confirm the previous work and extend it to the context of fantasy baseball. Two samples of fantasy participants (football and baseball) were tested from a mechanistic dehumanization perspective. The results provide an opportunity for broadcasters, developers, teams, leagues, and even athletes to capitalize on the unique relationship between fantasy participants and professional athletes.

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Sport in Society

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