GROW THE NEXT GENERATION OF MLS FANS
Are your kids starting to follow Major League Soccer? Are you interested in playing MLS Fantasy with them? Read on – and contact @oldergoaler on Twitter for the #MLSFANTASY4KIDZ 2017 league entry codes!
HOW IT BEGAN
When I moved from Toronto three years ago, there was only one thing I’d miss – my seat at the front of BMO Field with my U-Sector family. The upside was that I’d have more time to watch games from around the league. MLS Fantasy had originally been pitched to me as the best way to learn MLS and its players. Hopefully keeping an eye on more players would give me an edge over those who play strictly by the numbers.
My son had only joined me for a handful of games in Toronto, often exploring the stadium or begging to leave at half time. To be fair, he wasn’t the only one – this was the seemingly cursed Toronto FC! When my son started playing soccer regularly (and competitively), he began to show more interest. Having moved a few hours away, we’d missed the opportunity to really enjoy games together.
One day, having spent too much time pouring over MLS Fantasy, my son began asking questions. I explained fantasy sports to him in simple terms. We talked about team budget, player values and scoring points each week. The MLS season was soon over, but we got far enough to have learned something new.
In the MLS off-season I suggested we try an NHL Fantasy game together. I included my father and sister to round out a four team league. Each of us had some experience, but none of us were ringers in this contest. I hadn’t followed hockey for years. To be fair, as a family – we had followed the seemingly cursed Toronto Maple Leafs!
The NHL game was low in strategy but had the key concepts. We could change all our players each week, but had a fixed team budget and player values only changed half way through the season. My son asked fewer questions each week, became a better decision-maker and eventually worked a lot more on his own. You know he’s got it when instead of creating worlds in Minecraft, he’s sneaking off to work on his fantasy team!
MLS states that MLS Fantasy is “not available to persons under the age of 13” and that you must be “at least the age of majority in your jurisdiction” to be eligible to win prizes. Knowing the rules but eager to play together, I set up an account so my son could play under my supervision. He was 9 years old and just getting started with email and computers, so guidance and privacy was important. After chatting with some MLS Fantasy Boss regulars, I got the sense that there were other parents hoping to share their MLS interest. It’s always nice when you can combine some quality soccer-watching with quality parenting!
#MLSFANTASY4KIDZ was thus born to give my son and other kids his age a private league where they could learn about MLS and its players, under the supervision of their parents. Our first kids-only league was a private Classic League with 8 kids from around North America. We had brothers! We had twins! Most importantly, we had parents willing to guide them. Half way through the season, it was clear that our one veteran player did have an advantage – proof of just how much a year or two of MLS Fantasy can teach these kids about MLS. We then introduced a Head-To-Head league, so that every week the kids could experience a tight competition or big win.
By the end of the season, the kids had become quite engaged with MLS. They also learned a bit about computers, geography and math. My son and I were having more advanced discussions about all types of sport. I very much remember the day he stepped out of his own soccer game and immediately started tallying up his teammates’ “fantasy points”! I hope all our parents and kids found the inaugural #MLSFANTASY4KIDZ rewarding.
This year, the aim is to bring those players back, plus bring new ones into the fold. We’ll have our private Classic League where the kids will compete all season. If we get a number of new kids, we’ll split everyone into Rookies and Veterans leagues. We can also run Rookies and Veterans Head-To-Head Leagues, so there will be a season long component as well as weekly opportunities for wins.
Still interested? Contact @oldergoaler on Twitter for those entry codes!
MLSFANTASY4KIDZ 2017 DETAILS
- open to kids age 8-13
- based on their experience, kids will be placed in either the Rookies or Veterans leagues
- kids can of course remain private and join with a different or silly name (just like everyone else on the internet!)
- parents must provide their email address (kept private) for any communication and for a mid-season survey to see how the kids are doing
- any survey responses (with names and addresses stripped out) may be sent to MLS, as this is a great example of how we can help them grow a young fanbase
- weekly updates will come via Twitter @oldergoaler – watch the hashtag #MLSFANTASY4KIDZ!
- there are no parents in these leagues – not even me – as the leagues are administered by my son’s account
- there are no prizes for these leagues, but parents are encouraged to reward their kids with a gift of your choosing – last year some of us bought a $20 box of MLS trading cards