"Daddy, come here!” 

It is a Sunday afternoon, and Dr. Selene Parekh’s children sit with their eyes glued to the screen, all intensely watching football.

A player is down on the field and is surrounded by medical personnel. His children did not call their father’s name out of fear—they just want to know what happened.

Parekh, 44, runs over to the living room, grabs the remote and rewinds the television to the injury, with his kids watching intently. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the Parekh household. Minutes later, after explaining his thoughts to his children, Parekh will release a video on social media detailing the suspected injury, as well as potential recovery timetables depending on its severity.

A few days later, Parekh will overhear one of his boys—ages 9 and 10—chatting with one of their friends about the latest injuries in relation to fantasy football, a multibillion dollar industry centered around real-time player performances. Suddenly, Parekh realizes that the conversation is sounding a lot like his video analysis.

“I actually hear them talking to their friends and I hear them saying the same words as I do on the videos. For example, ‘Tony Romo had a vetebral compression fracture, [and] he’s going to be out four weeks,’” Parekh said. “We call them in the house the mini fantasy doctors.”

Officially, Parekh recently received a promotion at his job at Duke University, where he was named a Co-Chair of the Foot and Ankle Division at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He still sees thousands of patients a year, and has more endorsements on LinkedIn than many people have friends. 

Online, though, Parekh adopts a completely different persona. He is “The Fantasy Doctor,” a social media figure known for diagnosing injuries from his living room couch.

Despite his title, Parekh lives a life far different than the typical orthopedic surgeon. While most leave the workplace hoping to unwind from a hectic workday, Parekh goes home to embark on a variety of somewhat connected ventures, all while still finding time to spend with his family.

On the playing field

You could point him out easily, even from the highest points in the bleachers. Parekh was the first person of Indian descent to play on his high school football team in West Orange, N.J., initially trying out in ninth grade to his parents’ dismay.

“Back when I was growing up, they thought you were Indian, so you were going to be great at studying, and maybe if you played a sport, that maybe you’d do a racket sport like tennis,” Parekh said. “When I wanted to play football, they thought I was crazy.... My parents were worried that I’d get hurt.”

After joining the team as a scrawny freshman, Parekh had grown by the time junior year rolled around and became a key contributor. Playing both offense and defense, Parekh earned offers from Tulane and a handful of Ivy League schools. Although he had been recruited as a defensive back, Parekh also started at wide receiver and served as the backup quarterback, and quickly made a name for himself.

To continue playing, he had to make a deal with his parents. Parekh’s parents—both first-generation immigrants from India—agreed to let him continue playing football as long as he kept his grades up. He never gave his parents any reason to worry, and he was named the valedictorian of his graduating class. On top of the academic honor, Parekh nabbed the Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to the senior athlete of Italian-American heritage who has surpassed expectations both academically and athletically. 

“He was never rebellious. He was incredibly obedient and commensurate,” Parekh’s older brother Jai said. “But he definitely pushed the envelope and went above and beyond, and that continued to foster in himself as time went on.”

The first ever—yet again

With his successes on and off the field, Parekh planned to study at Princeton. Although he did not have an athletic scholarship—Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships—it was a no-brainer. But just two months before heading to Princeton, Parekh learned that he received a full scholarship for the seven-year medical program at Boston University.

Money was tight, and Jai was already in Beantown. It was all Parekh needed to change his college plans.

At Boston University, during his first year of medical school, Parekh noticed the changing landscape in the medical world. Hospitals were combining with private practices to create comprehensive health systems, and Parekh wanted to keep up with the changing times.

He contacted the medical school dean and received support in applying to business school. As soon as Parekh was accepted into Boston University’s business school, he became the test subject for what is now the combined MD/MBA program.

“At the time, the MD/MBA was unheard of. It was blasphemy,” Parekh said. “[I wanted to] be a decision maker versus just being on the sidelines just watching things happen.”

Parekh followed the same course of action during his residency program at the University of Pennsylvania. Although he was supposed to devote a year to research, Parekh convinced the faculty to let him study healthcare entrepreneurship at Wharton—their famed business school.

“The great thing about business school is that it teaches you [through] these group projects, where [we] look at a problem and come up with creative solutions,” Parekh said. “It made me really start thinking outside the box [and] become somebody who looks at problems and my frustrations…and start thinking about how can I make it better.”

The Fantasy Doctor comes to life

After two and a half years at North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a job opened up in Duke’s medical department in 2009, where Parekh could take advantage of its advanced research opportunities.

Since coming to Duke, Parekh’s ventures have taken off. He has developed three patents with medical device companies, all helping treat injuries to the foot and ankle. He has also examined different diseases and tried to use 3D printers to recreate items for specialized surgeries, such as ankle replacements.

But that is only one aspect of his work outside the operating room.

When he came to Duke, Parekh was both curious and frustrated by two aspects in the sport he once excelled in: football. All the data was available online, yet nobody could predict recoveries for common, yet devastating, injuries. So he decided to co-author a groundbreaking study tracking football recoveries from ACL tears—the average recovery length and the impact in performance post-injury—which drew national attention. Parekh’s second study focused on Achilles' tendon tears as his following continued to grow.

At the same time, he was developing his Fantasy Doctor moniker. Parekh knew he could accurately predict sports injuries and their resulting timetables based on simple videos, with coaches often neglecting to share key injury details with the public. As soon as he would find out about major injuries, Parekh would write a report or release a video on his personal website detailing the injury.

Although it was time-consuming on top of all his other responsibilities, Parekh continued to post when a public relations firm from New York City reached out to him. The company wanted to represent Parekh and believed he had a unique product in high demand. Two years ago, he severed those ties and formed a partnership with the manager of an injury database service to start The Fantasy Doctors.

Combining both of their reaches, Parekh and his new business partner were able to make an impact quickly, and FanRag Sports Network, a well-known sports website, offered to let them use FanRag’s website as a host server.

“Are we making some conclusions based on what we’re seeing? I mean yeah, but this is the stuff I do all the time,” Parekh said. “I’d say [we do] about 90 percent or better…but sometimes we’re wrong, and that’s okay.”

‘I don’t sleep much’

Despite being at work from at least 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Parekh finds time to monitor injury news during working hours. According to John Bonini, the Director of Clinical Operations, Parekh stays tuned in between patients, often leaving sports news on a low drone in the background. If he sees something worthwhile, Parekh will send out a quick post on social media, and soon after, his nearly 3,500 Twitter followers will have insight on injuries that happened just moments before.

But it does not take away from his patients, Bonini qualifies. 

“He’s in a constant, perpetual state of thought. That’s not something to do with his MBA, that’s his unique personality,” Bonini says. “There’s not a million of him walking around. He’s a superstar.”

So how does he find the time for everything, especially with his new responsibilities as a co-chair of his department?

“First of all, I don’t sleep much. Second of all, it’s constantly a juggling act between family, my academic stuff and research, and you just try to fit it in as best as you can,” Parekh said.

In recent years, Parekh’s wife and friends have worried that he has taken on too much.

“There’s a lot of times that I wish he’d relax because I feel terrible how busy and crazy his days are,” his wife said. “[But] that’s what he thrives on.”

However, Parekh welcomes his myriad responsibilities. He has always been a nonconformist, going back to his high school football days.

“Life’s always interesting. When I get bored with one thing, my head is onto something else,” Parekh said. “I’m never bored with life."