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Millions Turn Fantasy Sports Leagues Into a Real Industry in US


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about a place not found on the map …

Play some music from John Legend …

And report about playing sports on a computer.

Fantasy Leagues

Fantasy sports leagues are becoming very popular in the United States.  This activity gives people the power to "own" a professional sports team.  Barbara Klein has more.

A fantasy sport is a game in which each member of a group called a league acts as the owner of a team.  Each owner creates a team of real-life professional players to compete against other teams in the league.  The fantasy teams compete against each other using points earned by the real players of the professional sport.

For example, each member of a fantasy baseball league chooses professional players from several different real-life teams.  Fifteen teams compete against each other.

As the baseball season progresses, each fantasy team is awarded points, based on the performance of its players in the real league. At the end of the season, the fantasy team whose players gained the most points would win the fantasy competition.

Fantasy sports are also known as rotisserie or roto leagues.  They started to gain more popularity in the mid-nineteen nineties, with widespread use of the Internet.

Computers have made managing fantasy leagues easier with programs designed to keep score for teams.

More than fifteen million American adults play fantasy sports.  The industry earns more than one thousand million dollars each year on publications, memberships and other costs.

However, research groups have estimated that fantasy sports also cost employers money in lost productivity when employees manage their fantasy teams at work.

American football and baseball are the most popular fantasy sports.  Basketball and NASCAR auto racing are also gaining popularity.

Fantasy sports provide a more interactive way for people to enjoy sports beyond simply watching games.  Fantasy players get a chance to make the same decisions professional owners and managers do.

A common practice in fantasy leagues is to collect money from each player at the beginning of the season.  The money will be given to the owners of the top teams at the end of the season.  People play fantasy sports for money, but more importantly they play for fun, competition -- and as a way to spend time with their friends.

Silicon Valley

Our VOA listener question this week comes from Munich, Germany. Vadym Ponomarenko asks about Silicon Valley.

You will not find the name Silicon Valley on maps of the United States, although it is in the state of California.  Silicon Valley is not an official place name.  It describes an area south of the city of San Francisco, in Santa Clara County.  It is one of the fastest growing areas of the state and includes the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Santa Clara and San Jose.

The name comes from the silicon material used to produce tiny computer parts.  Silicon Valley today is home to thousands of high technology companies.

The story of how this area came to be known as Silicon Valley begins with Stanford University, in Palo Alto.  The university was having financial problems following World War Two in the late nineteen forties.  It also owned several thousand hectares of land that was not being used.

Stanford professor Frederick Terman learned that the university could not legally sell the land.  The Stanford family had made it legally impossible to sell any of the land they gave to the university.  But Mr. Terman discovered that nothing could prevent the university from permitting companies to use the land in exchange for payment.  This idea led to the development of an area called Stanford Industrial Park in nineteen fifty-one.

Several leading companies moved their offices there, including the new Hewlett-Packard electronics company. The success of businesses like Hewlett-Packard influenced other companies to move into and near the Stanford Industrial Park.

In nineteen seventy-one, a reporter, Don Hoefler, first called the area "Silicon Valley" in a series of stories for the publication Electronic News.  He used the term to describe the many electronics companies being built in Santa Clara County.

Young computer engineers with little money started companies in the area.  Many of these grew into large and famous international businesses.  These include Apple Computer, Microsoft, Intel and Google.

Today, Santa Clara County is working with the United States Department of the Interior to attract visitors. Santa Clara County uses the name Silicon Valley to describe its importance in the history and economy of the United States.

John Legend

Singer and songwriter John Legend is one of the most successful new artists in the United States.  People around the world enjoy his music. Katherine Cole tells us more and plays some songs.

KATHERINE COLE:

John Legend became a popular name in the music industry in two thousand four.  The twenty-seven-year-old singer and songwriter released his first album that year.  "Get Lifted" won many honors including three Grammy Awards.  His hit song "Ordinary People" is from that album. The song shows Legend's musical skills as a piano player and singer.

John Legend recently released his second album.  It is called "Once Again."  He says he listened to different kinds of music while working on the album.  The songs are influenced by pop, rhythm and blues and jazz.  The love song "Save Room" shows some of those influences.

John Legend says he hopes to perform his music in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa in the coming year. He says one of the things he likes best about music is that it brings people closer together.  He says music makes the world a better place.  We leave you with another song by John Legend.  It is called "Heaven."

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.

This show was written by Brianna Blake, Lawan Davis and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
www.manythings.org/voa/america

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