The NFL is pulling the plug on fantasy football for kids

By: David Monahan

After a two-year campaign by CCFC, the NFL has ended a controversial fantasy football game for children. 

In 2015, we issued an in-depth report on how the NFL intensively targets children, including their NFL Rush Fantasy Football game, where kids aged six to twelve won weekly prizes like an XBox One or $1,000 cash and a Grand Prize of $5,000 cash or a vacation for three in Hawaii. Our report documented how the league even created a “curriculum” to promote fantasy football in schools! 

In February 2016, we sent a letter to the NFL demanding that they stop promoting fantasy football with valuable prizes to children, and stop offering a school curriculum based on fantasy football. We told the NFL that it was unconscionable to entice children to engage in the adult activity of playing a game with the incentive of valuable prizes, and we shared research that shows fantasy sports participation is correlated with gambling-related problems. 

NFL attorneys met with CCFC and the National Council on Problem Gambling to hear our concerns, and the NFL agreed to make significant changes to the game for the 2016 season: prizes would be awarded based on a random drawing rather than success at the game; cash prizes or “scholarships” would be eliminated; and the NFL was discontinuing the school curriculum based on the game.  

These changes were a big step in the right direction, but the best news was yet to come: the NFL is now ending the Rush Fantasy game for children completely. Their decision comes on the heels of an extensive expose in the Huffington Post: “Hooked for Life: Inside the NFL’s relentless, existential, Big Tobacco-style pursuit of your children.” The article was based, in large part, on CCFC’s efforts to bring these marketing tactics to light.

We applaud the NFL for this decision—it’s the right thing to do! We’re glad that the NFL will no longer encourage young children to get into the habit of playing fantasy sports for money and prizes.