People who spend most of their time playing, researching, and thinking about their fantasy football teams may have poorer mental health than other players, according to a new study.
According to sports psychologists at Nottingham Trent University, players who were most engaged in the game were more likely to experience bad mood and anxiety when playing or thinking about it.
Research also found that they were more likely to report disruptions in their daily life as a result of the game, including work, personal and personal relationships.
The study included data from nearly 2,000 players across different platforms.
It is believed to be the first of its kind to study players’ mental health, with individuals forming their own virtual team to score points and compete against others.
The study, conducted via an online questionnaire, found that the majority of players had no psychological concerns about their fantasy football.
However, there were significant correlations between poor mental health and player engagement.
A quarter of participants reported feeling mildly dejected – which may include sadness, anger, frustration, fatigue, and low self-esteem – while playing, researching, or thinking about the game.
However, this increased to 44% for players with high engagement.
The study also found that mild anxiety rose from a fifth (20%) of participants to 34%, and gamblers’ lives increased from 14% overall to 37% in those who spent most of their time playing the game than doubled.
High engagement was defined as people who played in six or more leagues at the same time, played more than 45 minutes a day, researched more than an hour a day, or spent more than two hours a day thinking about their fantasy football.
The researchers found that those who had more experience in fantasy football – if someone had been playing for 11 years or more – reported significantly better mental health than those who had played for a shorter time.
They suspect this could be because those who are better able to manage their mental health may continue to play the game.
It could also be because, over time, players were able to develop different coping mechanisms to deal with the ups and downs of the game.
The researchers argue that game developers and the gamers themselves should do more to monitor the time devoted to the game.
Dr. Luke Wilkins, an expert in sports and exercise psychology at the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, said, “While it is positive that only a minority report mental health issues related to their fantasy football, it is about one higher engagement seem to increase the likelihood of mood and anxiety problems and appear to have a negative impact on players’ lives.
“Fantasy football is not to be won by the vast majority of players and it is possible that if a person ‘loses’ the more invested, the more affected they will be.
“Our study highlights the general positives that the game can bring, but also warns of the potential drawbacks and justifies the idea that more should be done to reduce the time devoted to playing fantasy football to monitor. “
The study participants came from 96 nationalities, had an average age of 33 years, and the vast majority (96%) were male.
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