Document Type


Publication Date



Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Rhetoric | Sports Studies


This essay examines the online game of fantasy football as a collection of rhetorical procedures that present a particular ideology through how the game is played. Unlike traditional forms of rhetoric, Ian Bogost argues that games are rhetorically unique because they make arguments using procedures, or programmed processes that require the audience to take distinct and discrete actions. I argue that the procedures of fantasy football, from the transformation of human action into numeric representation to trading players with other fantasy owners, are processes that bear the marks of its dominant messages: commodification and ownership. The game of fantasy football is specifically programmed for gamers to think like an NFL owner, where controlling players is programmatically established as the preferred method of operation and the spoils of competition are more likely to come to those gamers who primary view their players as tradeable objects. This relationship between subject and object operates as a kind of colonial logic, rearticulating an already troubling relationship that the NFL holds with America’s plantation past. However, despite its admittance as fantasy in the name itself, the procedures of fantasy football embolden a fetishized, real-life connection between the NFL and fantasy gamers. While fantasy football’s procedures invite owners to exercise control over NFL players, gamers soon realize that they have little impact on the outcome of games. Rather than discouraging the fantasy community from participating in the game, I argue that this illusion of control rearticulates the bond between the NFL and its fans and rejuvenates a colonial desire.


Copyright all authors


Full-text of article also appears online at

Kellam Research Poster.pdf (369 kB)
Poster presented at Faculty Spring Research Symposium 2018