Fantasy Football: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It's that time of year again. Baseball's races are coming down the homestretch... but your team is hopelessy out of it. College Football's preseason Top 25 rankings are announced... but you went to Penn State and don't want to think about college football. The NBA is still in the rearview mirror and the upcoming NHL season is in jeopardy. So what are you left with? The NFL and its entertaining yet highly annoying cousin, Fantasy Football.
Let's get one thing out in the open right away: I've been in the same FF keeper league for 27 years. That is not a misprint. My friends and I didn't invent the damn thing but you can sure as hell carbon date our existence. It started, innocently enough, as a way for all of us to stay in touch when we went away for our college. And it was great. No internet then, just newspaper box scores and my friend, attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, sending the weekly scoring summaries courtesy of handwritten legal pad, xerox, and the US Postal Service. Needless to say, that was a long time ago.
Today Fantasy Football is a full-blown industry. Millions upon millions are made off of this somewhat childish pursuit. The Monday mornings of countless "team owners" are either made or destroyed by the accomplishments, or complete disappearance of, players they call their own. It's kinda sad, actually. The worst of it comes when you piss away the opportunity to spend a beautiful Autumn day with friends or family in order to sit in a bar a cheer for a running back or receiver to gash your actual favorite football team. I've been in those bars and nothing good can come of it. You're even more far gone if you're sitting there cheering every ten yard gain like some schmoe who high fives his pal after every bucket in a basketball game. If there is possibly a lower rung on this whole thing it's the so-called Fantasy Football Expert. You want to be a Fantasy Football Expert? Follow the game, read the stat sheets, know the players, and, most importantly, be prepared to make life and death decisions when it comes to such categories as "Sleeper," "Bust," and Super Sleeper." It's a tough gig, for sure.
So why do we continue to participate in Fantasy Football? Is it the money? Meh. Not really. Is it wanting to win at something... anything? Gosh, I hope not. You gotta aim higher than that. Is it that we love the NFL? Yeah, that's part of it. But a more accurate description of what draws people to Fantasy Football is that it gives you a stake in almost every game. Whether you have a player going or not, you have some interest. It taps into the degenerate gambler that lurks in all of us. It's four months of micro-Vegas highs and lows. In short, it's fun but more than a little pathetic. Enjoy!