National Librarian Sport Declared

In the spirit of national celebration, I am declaring Fantasy Sports as the official national sport of librarians. That's right, since I'm not aware of any other "National Librarian Sport" I'm declaring Fantasy Sports (ie. fantasy baseball, fantasy football) the official national sport. On what authority you may ask? None. None what-so-ever. But...

Fantasy Sports require:

  • Strong research skills
  • Excellent use of information literacy
  • Critical thinking abilities
  • Social communication
  • No physical qualifications
Is there anyone else out there playing fantasy sports? Any educators / librarians interested in forming a fantasy football league?

Now, I've played fantasy football for over 6 years and I'm know there are other librarians (Chris Thomas plays fantasy baseball) out there that play as well. But I've seen very little discussion on fantasy sports and information literacy. A quick search through EBSCO databases turns up nothing relevant on fantasy sports and libraries, let alone anything specific to information literacy. Even a Google search turns up very little. Back in 2003 Michael Lorenzen blogged about his interest in fantasy football and the desire to do a class on it. Last year a student and I put together an information literacy lesson for athletes on fantasy football, but didn't get to implement it. I am looking to do so this year though.

The successful fantasy sport player consistently applies 4 of the 5 ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards. Every week (and even daily) fantasy football, baseball and other sport players do the following:
  • Standard 1: "The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed."
    • Indicator 1: "The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information literacy."
      • The strengths and weaknesses of the team
      • What positions are required
      • What player match-ups exist
      • Explores general information sources to gain a focus
    • Indicator 2: "The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information."
      • Identifies a variety of sources (printed guides, websites, interviews, peer conversations
      • Constructs information from the raw data (game stats) from primary sources
    • Indicator 3: "The information literate student considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information."
      • Determines what info is available free and what is fee and the benefits of each
  • Standard 2: "The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently."
    • Indicator 2: "The information literate student constructs and implements effectively -designed search strategies."
      • Identifies what terms (positions, players, keywords) to search
      • Implements search through various methods and retrieval
    • Indicator 3: "The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods."
      • Fantasy players use chats, forums, call-in shows, interviews, email letters to gain primary information
    • Indicator 4: "The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary."
      • Assesses the quality the information and determines if they have enough to make roster, player, draft decision
      • Identifies gaps in their information and repeats search in order to make informed decision
    • Indicator 5: "The information literate student extracts, records, and manages the information and its sources."
      • Many players create their own organizational systems (spreadsheets, draft cheat sheets)
      • Tracks citation sources in order to come back to them ("future reference") during the season
  • Standard 3: "The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered."
    • Indicator 1: "The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered."
      • Reads source content and selects the key data that applies to need (roster, team, match-up)
    • Indicator 2: "The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluation both the information and its sources."
      • Determines the reliability, bias, validity, authority and timeliness of sources in order to make roster and drafting decisions
      • Recognizes prejudice potential in fan based sites compared to professional sites
    • Indicator 3: "The information literate student synthesizes main ideas to construct new concepts."
      • Recognizes trends and relationships in stats (primary sources) and commentaries
      • Often uses spreadsheets and tables to construct comparison charts and rankings for drafting
    • Indicator 4: "The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information."
      • Decides if they have enough information to make a draft / roster decision
      • Draws conclusions based on evidence that effect the season/week/day gameplay
      • As the season progress, the players integrate new and ongoing information with previous knowledge to make timely decisions
    • Indicator 5: "The information literate student determines whether the new knowledge has an impact on the individuals' value system and takes steps to reconcile the differences."
      • Players encounter commentaries and information that contract their own beliefs on teams/athletes and their value
    • Indicator 6: "The information literate student validates understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individuals, subject-area experts, and / or practitioners."
      • Engage in personal and electronic discussions about players and decisions
      • Expert opinions are sought through weekly shows and chats conducted by paid professionals (ESPN, NFL, CBS)
  • Standard 4: "The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose."
    • Indicator 1: "The information literate student applies new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance."
      • Articulates the knowledge gained in the drafting process and weekly roster moves (end product)
      • Manipulates digital data (league websites and team pages) to reflect knowledge
    • Indicator 2: "The information literate student revises the development process for the product or performance."
      • After every match-up, the player reflects on the process and the results (win/loss) to determine future strategies

I do not think I've ever laid out fantasy football (baseball, etc.) in such detail, but each of these indicators and outcomes are practiced on a weekly basis by fantasy sport players. At this level of information literacy integration and the length of the seasons (lasting at least 5 months), how can this not be the information literacy librarians sport of choice.

Anyone interested it trying out the new "national" sport for librarians?

Information literacy competency standards for higher education. (2000). Retrieved July 4, 2007 from

Image taken from ACRLog


LeAnn said...

This is awesome! It's a great way to highlight good info literacy skills while still showing how to research and that research isn't so daunting. Can I use some of these ideas in my classes this coming fall?

Paul said...

Leann, please feel free to do so. I am hoping that by providing and mapping something from pop culture like fantasy football, it will encourage others to find new ways to connect with their students and make info lit more relevant and meaningful.

Thanks for asking.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather thay pretend to be Fantasy Scholars. Or even Fantasy Students if I have to scale back my ambition. A template is an easy thing to fill. A mind....?

Paul said...


I want my students to strive to be real scholars not just "fantasy" ones. They can be and it doesn't take a stuffy traditional ivory tower to make it happen.

A student that can succeed at fantasy football/baseball has the analytical and critical thinking skills to be real scholars. We can use that interest and success to scaffold into academic content. And that is where and when you help fill their mind.

Information literacy and fantasy football does not replace our existing content. But it can be the doorway to reach our students.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and insightful observations. For the less athletically-inclined among us, a funny alternative to football and baseball leagues was proposed on a couple of years ago: Indie Fantasy League, in which players generate fantasy record labels based on real musicians, and follow their label's fortunes as a function of the real musicians' activities over the course of a season.

Andrew said...

Ted Smith & Mark Watson at the University of Oregon Libraries teach a freshman seminar called
LIB 199: How to do Baseball Research. Here's the blurb:
Learning how to effectively use the information resources provided by the library is among the most important skills for new college students to acquire. Yet, the idea of taking a library class just to learn the nuts-and-bolts of how to search databases, find materials in the library's print collections, and effectively use and interpret Internet resources strikes many students as, well, boring. So why not use a subject that many people find fun and interesting to teach those useful information-finding skills?
Baseball is an important part of American history and culture (it is, after all, known as the "National Pastime") and is increasingly popular in various countries around the world. It is a subject that has many possibilities for research and is also one that many people (including us!) find enjoyable to study. We think it's an ideal vehicle to introduce students to the skills involved in conducting academic research using the resources available to them through the modern academic library. In the class we learn a lot about baseball, and a lot about finding and interpreting information, skills that will come in handy in future University coursework.

and yes, Mark & Ted are active participants in a fantasy baseball league, along with *many* other colleagues from a wide variety of library departments.

Anonymous said...

It certainly is an interesting idea and I never looked at it that way before. I've been playing in a free Fantasy Football League through Yahoo! for the past 5 years, and keeping my team, the "Deadly Librarians" winning, requires constant surveillance of team statistics, player statistics, matchups, injury reports, etcetera. It is a lot of fun.

Paul said...

Thanks for the info Andrew, I'm excited to hear that others have tried similar things. This one is the first specific example I've seen. Thanks.

And if our students can succeed in doing all the monitoring and evaluating of information that "Anonymous" states is needed... they could carry those skills over into the academic realm as well.


Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fantasy Football Librarian said...

You're not the only librarian thinking along those lines...

Anonymous said...

ooh, this looks like fun! of course, being canadian, i have to compare it to fantasy hockey, which is very big here!

Chudsie said...

Hmmmm and I thought I needed to stay in the closet with my fantasy sports addiction. I would love to find ways to incorporate it into my teaching.

Sign me up!

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