Toward a Better Understanding of Fantasy Football and Dehumanization of Athletes: Is Fantasy Sport Gambling to Blame?

Benjamin Larkin

A growing amount of attention has been paid to the topic of dehumanization of professional athletes. Fantasy sport has been explored as a driver of this phenomenon, but empirical evidence has yet to be provided. This research explores the role of gambling—that is, whether fantasy participants were more driven by money or entertainment/escape—in this phenomenon. Results of SEM analysis indicated that fantasy football participation motivated by gambling was positively associated with dehumanization, while participation for the purpose of entertainment/escape was negatively related. Th is suggests it is not fantasy sport in itself that is a predictor of dehumanization but rather participation motivated by gambling. In addition to extending the literature on dehumanization amongst fantasy participants, the research provides guidance for fantasy sport service providers’ game terminology while also informing the potential role of fantasy sport in proliferating the inability for sport fans to understand mental health struggles amongst athletes.