Fantasy sports leagues draw millions of players each year, and with good reason. The leagues offer intense competition, the chance to own and manage your own team, socialization with other sports fans, the thrill of victory and a hobby that requires little investment but offers great rewards.

Fantasy sports certainly has plenty of players. The games have more than a $1 billion impact on the sports industry with the purchase of publications, league fees, commissioner services and purchase of content on the Internet, according to a study by researchers from the University of Texas and University of Illinois.

So Why Play Fantasy Sports?

Billions are made in the sports industry because those who play fantasy sports tend to watch more sports on television, visit websites more frequently and buy more merchandise. Here are some other reasons why it’s so popular.

It’s Competitive

Sports fans love competition for a lot of reasons. The strategy involved. The unpredictability of outcomes. The way random chance can impact the result of any game or season. Fantasy sports are highly competitive, with like-minded fans facing off against each other – usually through websites – to compete for the championship.

You’re in Charge

Every sports fan looks at one of their favorite teams and thinks at some point, “I could manage the team better than that.” Fantasy sports gives you that chance. The best leagues allow you to draft or buy players, set lineups, determine strategy and then make adjustments as the season goes on.

Making Friends

Playing fantasy, especially season-long leagues, means forming friendships that can last a lifetime. If everyone lives close to each other, draft day parties where everyone gets together are often held. Even if you join a league of people you’ve never met through an online portal, you’ll get to know those who are also big sports fans.

The Thrill of Victory

Winning a fantasy league is very difficult to do, especially when you are up against other knowledge fans over the course of a long season. Whether you end up throwing in a little money to “sweeten the pot” or not, winning is still a thrill. Few hobbies provide that kind of experience.

It’s Fun and Rewarding

Until you’ve found yourself in the middle of the work day wondering if you picked the right pitching rotation for your team’s current road trip to New York and Baltimore, then it’s hard to explain how much fun fantasy sports can be. They provide a welcome break from the day-to-day grind of the “real world” and give you the chance to focus on something you love.

Fantasy sports is a great option for sports fans. Some may find they actually like sports better when they play fantasy. It’s a simple matter of picking a sport and finding a good league. Years from now, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to do it.