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Fantasy Fishing

Perhaps you've heard of fantasy football. Or fantasy baseball, for that matter. These are activities that involve make-believe teams and leagues in which statistics from real players' on-the-field performances determine winners and losers. More than 20 million Americans have formed fantasy leagues with their friends or with strangers on the Internet, even in sports like basketball, ice hockey, and golf. And wait till we tell you about the latest fantasy sport.

Sometimes these groups of sports fans are called rotisserie leagues. They often do get together in each other's basements or sit around a patio that includes a rotisserie for cooking meats, but that's not where the name came from. It was coined in 1980 by a fellow who met with his friends at La Rotisserie Francaise restaurant in New York City.

Fantasy-league participants pick real players to make up the rosters of their teams, then let the athletes' actual performances in several statistical categories determine who wins fantasy games and the ultimate league championship. The next season, the friends start all over again, assembling fantasy teams made up of what they hope are the best players at each position on the field, court, or ice.

Fantasy sports are big business. Participants spend an estimated $4 billion on statistical services, advice from so-called experts, betting on results, and even fees paid to the so-called commissioners of their fantasy leagues.

And the hottest new sports-fantasy activity is fantasy fishing! That's right. The cable sports network ESPN sponsors a fantasy-fishing league.

Fishing fanatics choose a professional fisherman to follow during bass tournaments. Statistical categories include the biggest bass caught, the weight of the total catch, and the number of fish pulled into the bass boat.

Apparently, if there's an activity for which statistics are kept, somebody is forming a pretend-league of its players and getting together with friends to fantasize about it.