In Defense of Fantasy Football

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's been hard to update the blog over the past several weeks for two reasons:

1) My back has hurt so bad that it is hard to sit and type after doing it for 9 hours at work every day. Aside from the pain, it's difficult to type while laying on your stomach with an icepack on your back while simultaneously being hooked up to a TENS unit that is pumping electric currents into your lumbar muscles.

2) I've been very upset at Forrest, Dave, and Grandpa Hiatt for their anti-fantasy football comments. I've needed some time to cool down so that I do not write anything that would strain my relationships with any of them.

I think I've adequately settled down to the point that I can restrain myself from writing a Moroni-to-Pahoran type of post that I will later regret, so today I'm defending my passion for fantasy football. Based upon the comments from Forrest-Dave-Grandpa and knowing Andrea's absolute disdain of fantasy, this should get some pretty good reactions. Before I explain to the unenlightened why fantasy football is the greatest human invention since ice packs, TENS units, muscle relaxants and pain killers (in moderation, of course, not like Brett Favre's usage a few years back. Oh, Favre has been awesome this year! I wish Brett would have been my fantasy QB instead of stupid, stupid Donovan McNabb......wait, Andrew, hold it together....try not to sound like an insane fantasy nerd......), I would like to know where you rate yourself on the Fantasy Opinion Poll. Please post a comment and tell me where you fall by rating yourself on a 1-5 scale:

5-Passionate. I love fantasy sports. I manage multiple teams year round and spend a couple of hours every week tracking/updating them. I talk about fantasy results on a regular basis with friends/co-workers, even if I know they couldn't care less. I get pumped up when I win and get upset when I lose. I have withdrawls during the offseason (kinda like most MLB players when they have to cycle off HGH before spring training).
4-Enjoyable. I enjoy fantasy sports and may run a team or two every year, but do not spend a whole lot of time managing them. I want to win, but don't get very upset when I don't (kinda like France when it gets involved with anything that doesn't begin with "Tour de...."). I like playing fantasy sports but can put them in the proper context.
3-Neutral. I usually do a March Madness team or something else low key. I see why people might like fantasy, but I don't spend a whole lot of time on it.
2-Contempt. I truly dislike fantasy sports and think they are a complete waste of time. I can understand to a small degree why people may like them, but most fantasy players take it way too far.
1-Hatred. I hate fantasy sports and pity those who play them and desperately wish they would get a grip on reality and do something productive with their lives. I get facial tics when people tell me how their fantasy team did an have to restrain myself from punching them mid-sentence.
0-Guh? What in the world are fantasy sports?

I am unequivocally a 5-Passionate, especially when it comes to my annual fantasy football league with the same group of 12 co-workers and acquaintances that make up the league every year. This year I snuck into the playoffs with a 6-8 record as the #8 seed (the last team to qualify) and proceeded to shock the world and win the Super Bowl. I even knocked off the team that went 13-1 in the first round. Take a look at the "Gonna Make You Sweat" team's run to glory, which was especially gratifying after finishing second last year:

For those of you who rate yourselves a "1" or a "2", there are a few things that you need to understand about fantasy sports in order to understand the "4's" and "5's" of the world:

-Fantasy Sports Are Reality. I desperately wish that I could turn into Superman, fly in the opposite direction of the earth's rotation, and go back in time to the genesis of fantasy sports. I would have campaigned to call the burgeoning industry, "Reality Based Sports Knowledge Challenges", or "Manly Men Demonstrating Their Understanding of Actual Sports" instead of the lame "fantasy sports" designation. "Fantasy" makes the whole enterprise sound so puny, lame, and detached from reality. You immediately associate fantasy anything with 30-year old guys living in their mother's basements who still play Dungeons and Dragons. (If I pulled the Superman feat I could also send myself a letter warning me not to draft Ahman Green in the first round of my 2005 fantasy draft.....but don't say that because only a fantasy dork would think like that and give credibility to the "1's" and "2's".....). Successful fantasy managers have to do REAL research into REAL games played by REAL players in order to beat REAL people in a REAL league that determines a REAL champion at the end of the year.

-It's a Great Competitive Outlet. For those of us who do everything possible to manage the work-family-church cycle, it is hard to find competitive outlets that do not cause you to neglect one of those three priorities. I love competition. I like to go head-to-head and see who is going to win. I have very few opportunities outside of fantasy sports to actually compete anymore. Some people compete by seeing who can kill the largest defenseless animal they find in a corn-fed field (Forrest), who can create the best magma-spewing volcano at the science fair (Dave), or who can pick the most Academy Award winners (Grandpa). The point is, most men like to compete and I have found that fantasy is one of the best ways for me to get my fix. (Like the time I had Roddy White go for 14 catches, 147 yards, and 2 TD's to lift me past our Safety Manager....oh, wait...nobody really cares about that.....)

-You Make Friends. I have been able to make new friends through my fantasy football work league and keep in touch with some of my U. of A. MBA buddies through fantasy basketball. If it weren't for fantasy sports, I would have either never met or lost touch with a lot of friends who make my life happier. Fantasy sports does for sports fans what Facebook does for teens, Christmas cards do for families, and Linkdin does for people who are too old for Facebook but too lame for fantasy sports. It brings and keeps friends together.

-It Makes Watching Sports Even More Enjoyable. Watching a sporting event is normally enjoyable enough, but when you have a fantasy player in the game it is like putting Magic Shell on a banana split. Banana splits are already delicious, but Magic Shell takes it to a whole new level. Fantasy sports takes an otherwise average game, like the Panthers versus New Orleans, and makes you care about every play. You are constantly saying, "Sweet. Steve Smith just caught a 26 yards pass, that's 3.6 points for my fantasy team!" My favorite is the opposite, however, and you watch a game featuring your opponent's player and they stink it up, or even better, get injured. It's almost sad, but when you see your opponent's player go down you catch yourself thinking, "Oh, I hope it's an ACL. Don't be a mild sprain, be an ACL!" (Horrible, I know, but it's true). Anyway, watching a game that has fantasy implications makes it as compelling as TV as you will find.

Okay, that's enough. You can now all go back and change your ratings to "5's". By the way, the Season 2 Fantasy Basketball seasons starts just after the All-Star break so let me know if you would like to join our league......

12 comments

andrea said...

Let's see here. I rate myself as a 4, believe it or not. I am in second place in my NBA fantasy league and love that I'm kicking my dad's and brother's tails! :)

Here are two of my issues with fantasy sports: 1. I mostly hang out with stay-at-home-moms on a social basis. Even though I enjoy fantasy sports, not a single one of my friends does. (At least none that I've discovered yet.) So I have no one to smack talk with. And it's just not the same to send an e-mail to my dad when he's 2000 miles away and say, "Ha! You're going down, sucka."

2. Sunday nights can be lonely for me when the kids have already gone to bed and you are watching the games you recorded from that day. I know that you'd pull yourself away from them if I asked you to do something with me, but I felt like if you could choose to do anything that night, you would prefer football. That's why I got bitter about the whole thing this year.

6:28 AM
No Core Strength Mama said...

Hi Andrew - I enjoyed reading your defense of fantasy football. When Amy was born, one of the reasons I was overjoyed that she was a girl was because I could relax about the almighty Sports-Gods controlling her destiny (and of course she ended up loving sports). Hobbies/sports keep us sane and happy - whether they be gardening, golfing, cooking, collecting pottery or training for a marathon. When sports get annoying is when they become the center that everything else exists to support, rather than the other way around...it's a fine line. So far I think you're doing just fine :)
Love,
Mom
Go Jazz
Go BYU

8:52 PM
Thomas said...

I'm a 5. FYI, My wife blog stalkes you almost daily. I don't think she's crazy or anything, but she makes me come in and read all your new posts on anything to do with sports. (so, every time you have a new post) Maybe she thinks that I'm exactly like you. Please keep up the good work, your great.

2:07 PM
Anonymous said...

Moroni, Dude,
It's me Pahoran. You can imagine my surprise as I'm sitting here watching the Nephihah Packers battle the Omner Giants, getting ready to go a little Amalickite on a party pizza when Sis Pahoran walks in and tells me you are misunderstanding my epistles again. Did we not learn anything during the battle for Zarahemla???
First of all you've got me all wrong bro with the fantasy sports! I'm a huge fan of fantasy sports. In fact I spent a large part of my time in High School fantasizing that I could play sports.
No seriously, I may not play fantasy football or baseball but I am all over the Versus fantasy outdoors game. I'm still gloating about Dirk Winkelman's upset over Bill Dance in the Bucks of Tecamate showdown. ( I still can't believe that Teancum drafted Dance. He's such a Pachus.)
Secondly, you could never accuse me of killing defenseless forest dwelling animals out of some sort of need for competition. I do so because I really hate forest dwelling animals and because I keep hearing rumors that the Gadiantons are planning some type of crazy seige and I want to be ready for when the Master Mahan hits the fan if you know what I mean??
So again, sorry to cause you any grief. Hopefully you haven't rented another coat and turned it into a flag. You can get a little Zerahemnah sometimes you know??
All the best,
Pahoran

5:42 PM
Dave said...

1.25 Hatred with a hint of pity and mild confusion.

I'd like to comment further but I won't because a. Nobody could top Pahoran and b. The explanation of the point system was as far as I could read. I quickly became bored and gave up.

7:29 PM
Shelley said...

I am a 3-4 and Michael is of course a 5 (or 6 if it's an option). I'm with Andrea on being the "fantasy season widow" - because it's so much more fun to watch your fantasy player play, you end up watching games you might not have otherwise. Although I've been really proud of Michael this year. We used to have EVERY NFL game DVR'ed just for the purpose of following fantasy players - now he's down to about half. (So Andrea, no whining over there in your cable-less, DVR-less casa!) I've had fantasy teams, and I am a SUPER competitive person, but to be honest, I didn't really follow the team after the first game or two and let Michael manage my roster for the very reason that it takes REAL management of your team to really go anywhere. And since my fantasy does not include being a professional sports team owner, it doesn't hold my attention for long. But I LOVE short-term competitions, like March Madness, especially if there's smack talk involved. But I'm all for you guys having your competitive-testosterone-sports outlet. As long as you always promise to remember our b-days and anniversaries as easily as you remember how many returns Randy Moss had in his last game and that it earned you 4.2 fantasy points!

7:46 PM
Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 7:49 AM
Paul said...

First off, let me rate myself real quick: gotta be between a 3-4. I always join Andi's league, or my dad's league, or your league (when you have time to play with us pion fantasy folks) but usually forget or don't every have the time needed to "manage" my team.

Question: What the heck is a corn-fed field, and where are they? That would be interesting to see....hehe. I really don't see how you can say hunting is competitive. Obviously you haven't done much yourself. The main reason I like to go hunting is to spend time with my dad, my bro, my friends, and someday soon my son. I don't go hunting so I can say "haha, sucka I killed my deer before you. how u like them apples?!?!?" or "oh yeah, well my rack is bigger than yours....".

Maybe you should let out some of your competitive nature playing guitar hero with your wife! Or better yet maybe you should start a contest with your fantasy buddies to see who spends the most time with their wives on Sunday evenings!!!

Hey Andi, are you sure Drew's insomnia isn't fantasy sports related???? And let me guess, the old man's back is feeling better now that football is almost over.....hehe j/k

Just poking fun at ya Andrew. Had to say something since you threw a low blow about hunting into your post. BOO!!!

8:01 AM
Ryan said...

Drew,
I am proud of your stance on the best activity known to the "wish we could be active" but live vicariously competitive through Professional/Collegiate sports. Fantasy is a way to be competitive and be broken physically. My two knee surgeries attest to that loud and clear. My stance is a large 5+. I managed a couple teams this year (none as successful as you), but it brings a new aspect to watching and understanding the business side of Sports. Can you imagine being an Owner and doing this for a living. This is essentially what makes Fantasy so fun. 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Norm
PS-I appreciate your wanting to attack Forrest, but don’t go after hunting!

7:09 PM
Sandy said...

I was a 0 until about 5 minutes ago when Jake explained to me what fantasy football is. I agree that the term "fantasy" is weird, considering it has to do with actual stats...Jake claims to also be a 0 right now because he currently doesn't have time to even WATCH football on TV unless its a re-play very late at night (he has all the "classic" BYU games practically memorized).

I'm just wondering - is there such a thing as "fantasy jogging" or "fantasy weight lifting" or "fantasy pilates"...I could really use one of those.

5:18 PM
Shannon said...

I know this comment is a little late, but I had to laugh when I was reading my sister's comment. She stated that the game holds her attention for the first couple weeks and then she lets Michael manage her team for the rest of the season. Last year what she actually did was trade all her good players to Michael halfway through the season so he kicked everyone's butts! Completely unfair!!! So, my husband and I being 5's ourselves, told her she couldn't be a part of the league this year if she were to do the same thing. I mean we start researching players' stats well before the season. My husband starts months in advance - I usually only start one month before drafting, but STILL! You put in all that hard work only to lose to those two cheaters! Well this year they played fair and Michael was very tough competition. I would rate myself a 3 as far as being a football fan, but when it comes to fantasy football, I am a 5. All season long I would change or at least check my line up every day first thing when I got to work. I was in first place all season thanks to Romo, Buress, T.O. and Tomlinson. Well, I'll correct myself by saying I was ranked first all season until playoffs - where 3 of my players were injured. My water broke the weekend of playoffs. Needless to say, I lost everything. Came in FOURTH!!!! AGH! My husband still laughs at me because as I'm being poked and prodded in triage waiting to be admitted, I look over at him with a look of panic and say "Oh no! I forgot to change my lineup!" A little late for that. But I was irritated all the way up to the point I went into labor. Ridiculous.

2:57 PM
Anonymous said...

Hi. My name's Jeremy and I am a fantasy addict. This year I have been in 4 fantasy football leagues, (Where I finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively), a Salary Cap football league (3rd) Fantasy NASCAR (Top 10 out of field of 25), College Football Pick'em (4th), NFL Survival league (Last, dang those Jaguars in week 1), March Madness Brackets, and 3 Fantasy basketball leagues (Finished 2nd in one last year, hanging tough in the others). I have a problem and am glad to have this opportunity to visit Fantasy Sportsaholics Anonymous... wait, this isn't FSA? Good, I can't stand those guys.
I'm still riding a high off of picking Billy Volek 3 years ago in free agency and having him single handedly defeat the competition for 3 weeks. I'm still kicking myself for not drafting Moss, Brady or Peterson this year, I still hold a grudge against Deuce McAllister, Edgerine James, Dominic Davis, and Rudy Johnson for being my worst draft busts of the past 4 years. Some can say I have no life, but they can't beat me so it don't mean a thing. LONG LIVE Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

8:48 AM