What do you get when you take fantasy football and add a bout of myopericarditis?
Well, in the case of Scott Fish, you get an untold number of people around the world benefiting from charitable donations.
Fish is the creator of the Scott Fish Bowl, a fantasy football tournament that brings together virtually every analyst in the industry — along with retired athletes, Hollywood luminaries, and hundreds of fans — all in the name of charity. The tournament – which had 30,000 applicants last year, though Fish has to limit the field to 3,000 or so due to the difficulty of managing something so large – has no entry fee, and bragging rights are the only prize.
All Fish has asked through the years is that the people playing donate money to charity.
“I’m not checking to see what people donate,” Fish said. “It’s more about pushing the idea out there. I don’t have an exact number on how much good this thing has done.”
Suffice it to say, though, it’s done plenty of good. And now, Fish is seeking to take his charitable work to the next level with Fantasy Cares, which has been incorporated as a 501(c)(3) since last year.
The charity has a simple goal: for every home fantasy football league to donate one league fee to charity. Any charity works, though Fantasy Cares now can accept those donations and redirect them to other worthy causes. Last year, the charity raised over $66,000, with a good chunk of the cash going directly to Toys for Tots.
Yesterday was my shopping day for @FantasyCaresOrg
Huge thank you to everyone who has contributed this year and makes it possible to do this for Toys 4 Tots pic.twitter.com/1QuXsx0L3J
— 𝙹𝚘𝚑𝚗 𝙱𝚘𝚜𝚌𝚑 (@JohnBoschFF) November 29, 2022
According to the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association, there are some 62 million Americans who play fantasy sports. Say there are probably about 5 million leagues, each with a $100 entry fee per player, and you can see how much money Fish could potentially raise.
But in the immediate future, Fish hopes Fantasy Cares raises $200,000 in 2023.
Health scare was the impetus
“I was 35 when I had my heart attack,” Fish said. “Technically it was myopericarditis. I got an illness in my lungs, it moved to my heart, and gave me all the symptoms of a heart attack, same recovery as a heart attack.”
At this point, Fish had already started the Scott Fish Bowl, which began in 2010 as the Fantasy Oasis Invitational. Fish used to run that site and had the idea for an analyst league, so he started one. It didn’t have a charitable component, although Fish did help a friend with a Las Vegas-based toy drive.
But after the health scare?
“It kind of changes the way you look at things,” he said. “It jump-started this to become a bigger thing. I had this renewed interest to be a role model for my son, who was two at the time, and to be a leader, and to do good. I had a platform at that point, and if you have a platform, you should do good with it. So I added a charitable element to Fish Bowl, telling people to donate to charity, or they could donate to a small GoFundMe toy drive.”
As the Scott Fish Bowl grew, so did Fish’s call for charity.
“Fantasy Cares, before it was a charity, had been kind of a mindset,” he said. “It’s not super new as far as an idea. I used to go on podcasts all the time and say, ‘If your league bands together and gives one entry fee to charity, we could do a lot of good out there.’ I started hashtagging ‘fantasy cares,’ and it grew from there.”
It really is a simple ask: One entry fee gets donated. If every league did that, well, it would help an unbelievable number of people.
“In the future, I hope to see Fantasy Cares as something that is so mainstream that if you talk to anyone who plays fantasy sports, they know what it is,” Fish said. “Every major site has people that play in the Fish Bowl, and if those people continue to push the word of mouth on podcasts and shows, it … well, it could be the kind of thing that fantasy players hear the name and know what it is.
“That’s been the goal since the start. Just getting the idea of adding charity to this hobby. If we can get to a point where everyone in fantasy knows the name and knows what it does, I feel as if I will have succeeded.”