Watch out, Millennials: Fantasy Football, March Madness finds new niche


By Bill Esbrook

Fantasy Football and college basketball ‘Bracketology’ is just for Millennials and Gen Z, right? Some residents of a local condominium complex are pushing back on that theory.

The upscale Oak Brook Club (OBC), a 316-unit association across from Oak Brook Mall, is a tranquil 25-acre oasis with numerous walking paths and sprinkler-laden ponds. A terrific setting and a great place to call home, but possibly not the first place one would think of as a hotbed for sports gaming interest.

Not so fast.

The OBC, which has its fair share of mature residents, just finished up its inaugural Fantasy Football league, and next up is a March Madness pool. Jan O’Connell, who describes herself as “in my 80s” but is still very youthful, had never before participated in the popular points-based gridiron pastime but wound up finishing in second place, just falling short in the championship game. O’Connell admitted that she knew little about football in general prior to the 2023 NFL season but did some catching up in a hurry.

“When I was approached about joining the league,” she said, “I thought it would be fun. They say the older you get, the more you should take on challenging things and learn something new.”

So O’Connell did her research and was able to draft top stars such as Christian McCaffrey and Jalen Hurts – and impress her family in the process. “During Sunday dinners,” said O’Connell, “my grandsons and son-in-law would ask how the league was going. Quite often, I was able to tell them, ‘I’m still number one.’”

Another first-time player, John Glavanovits, agreed that the competition became family bonding time. “It was great to spend time with my sons,” he said, “strategizing for the week’s moves. Being involved in the league sure made watching football more fun.”

Most assuredly, now, there will be a ton of interest in the upcoming March Madness pool as college basketball sprints closer to its season-ending tournament. Whereas Fantasy Football necessitates a multi-week commitment, March Madness requires that you just complete your bracket with the hope of picking enough winners to earn bragging rights

The OBC has a long history of team-building initiatives such as bridge and bunco, book clubs, seasonal parties and water aerobics. But Leslie Pollard, the facility’s property manager, likes the plan of adding sports into the mix. “It’s a great way to bring the community together and have people meet each other,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the idea and am excited about keeping it going.” ■

Despite the cold and snow, Mike Brandt looks forward to March Madness and rooting for his favorite school, Oklahoma.



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