Students Beat Celebrities, Teachers, and Experts in Unique Fantasy Football League

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Students teach adults lessons as they beat celebrities, teachers, and fantasy sports experts in a unique fantasy football league. Schools can also win cash awards based on the performance of students' fantasy teams.

Students are winning the battle in a one-of-a-kind fantasy football league created by the author of the Fantasy Sports and Mathematics Series.

The celebrities involved are David Henrie, an actor in Disney Channel's ''Wizards of Waverly Place'' and the hit series ''That's So Raven,'' Michelle Stafford, the Emmy Award winning actress from ''The Young and The Restless,'' and Whitney Wolanin, a 17-year-old pop star from Ft. Myers, Florida.

The students and teachers are from classes in Chicago, southern New Jersey, and Connecticut, while the fantasy sports experts are from ESPN, CBSSports, and Fantasy Football Index.

Students (12-9) and teachers (15-13) are the only groups with winning records to date. Bringing up the pack are the fantasy sports experts (14-14), and the celebrities, who have a record of 8-13.

The author thought it would be a fun way for students to compete directly with their idols and teachers. "Thousands of students are following the progress of this league," said author Dan Flockhart. "In fact, David Srinivasan, a writer for ESPN and a participant in our league, recently wrote that his two daughters are interested in their father's fantasy league because they are fans of David Henrie." Srinivasan commented, "The league's a riot, though it can be embarrassing losing to a 17-year-old. These students weren't born when I started playing fantasy sports!"

Jessica Bogie, a teacher who participates in the league, uses the league as an incentive program with her classes, as her students have their own team in the league. Students view the task of selecting the weekly starting lineup as a prize, and Bogie determines which class gets to set the lineup based on behavior and academic factors. "When I told the class that we were going to play fantasy football, their reaction was 'Can we really do that? That's really cool!' One student said, 'Ms. Bogie, my dad and I play fantasy sports all the time, so if you need any help I can help you'."

Unlike other fantasy leagues, the scoring system is based on fractions and originates from Fantasy Football and Mathematics, an educational resource guide for teachers and parents. Players earn 1/4 for touchdowns, 1/24 for every 25 yards passing, and 1/24 for every 10 yards rushing or receiving. Players lose 1/8 for fumbles and 1/6 for interceptions. "If a team earns three points, that is considered a good week," Flockhart added. "We have games that can be decided by 1/100 of a point."

Andy Richardson, a writer for Fantasy Football Index, is a participant whose hard-luck team is not performing as expected. Richardson is a fantasy veteran, and his perspective is evident when he states, ""If you have enough fantasy teams, every once in a while you're going to end up with one that's utterly abysmal. This is mine."

Flockhart is also sponsoring a national fantasy football contest where schools from throughout the country compete against each other for cash awards. The winning school will receive $1000. "Imagine that," explains Flockhart, "cash-strapped schools receiving funds based on the performance of the students' fantasy teams. The idea of donating money to cash-strapped schools gives me great pleasure, and the level of excitement in our contest is off-the-charts. The contests are helping to build school community as classes root for their teams, and some schools even sponsored a draft night where the parents and students drafted teams together." The top 10 schools and individuals can be found at http://www.fantasysportsmath.com.

Educators are using fantasy sports to motivate students and facilitate learning. "Fantasy sports are also blowing the doors off of traditional gender roles, as they are helping to empower girls, because girls experience just as much success as boys do when playing the games," added Flockhart.

At one school in New Jersey, the percentage of students who tested proficient on their state exams increased from 10% to 54% after one year of playing fantasy sports in the classroom. Flockhart concluded, "Teachers tell me that fantasy sports are changing lives, and that the games represent our best hope to eliminate math illiteracy, as currently 75% of students in the U.S. are not proficient in math."

Fantasy Sports and Mathematics is the one-stop resource for fantasy sports in education. Programs are available for football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. Further information on the programs, celebrity league, and national contest can be found at http://www.fantasysportsmath.com

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DAN FLOCKHART
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