Just a fantasy? Some say it’s an obsessionEvery year it’s the same. The same tickling sensation comes when the dog days of summer are almost over and you get a phone call from your buddy or an e-mail saying, “We’re on!” It’s that time of the year when you polish your credit card, ready for another subscription to some paid football advice because you know your buddies are doing just the same ― although they won’t admit it ― to get ready for the fantasy sports league (football in my case) beginning next month.
I have already prepared my list of excuses for the time that I need exclusively for my “research” and to keep me safe from my girlfriend’s cries to go shopping or talk to her on the phone. Non-existing company projects, power outages, and divine intervention will help guide me through the season in which every injury and scouting report counts and attention to detail is crucial. Using statistics that real-life players on real teams rack up during the season to play this sort of game may not sound much like a hobby, but I’ll call skeptics wrong.
I have played in a 12-person league for the last three years. Two times I was the cellar dweller, but last season I climbed out from the abyss and became the champion. Once you have reached that pinnacle, you’ll never forget the feeling of ecstasy that overwhelms your body and soul. It’s a trophy that stays forever in your mind. And so you are hopelessly addicted for good.
Imagine that you can finish every argument with your friends with the sentence, “Yeah, well, but I am the champ...” until the next season starts. That should shut down those guys. Peers listen to you because you have proven that you are a notch above everyone else. So if you are not a fantasy league fan but happen to know someone who is, this should give you an idea of what that person is going through and fighting for. Because make no mistake ― it’s a fight for the ultimate bragging rights.
Beside the sheer entertainment that fantasy leagues give, there is another positive side to it.
In a world that is now connected through the Internet, fantasy leagues play an important part of bringing far-apart friends together. Take, for instance, my league. We are spread over six countries and that many different time zones, but when draft day comes, it’s guaranteed that everybody will be logged on with a beer in one hand and draft chart in the other. There is no better way to keep in touch, and it’s also a good way to make some new acquaintances. Originally, starting out with four alumni from my college, we brought in people that each person knew and have now become a larger circle of friends. The message board at the league serves to trash each other, but also to get useful tips on business and life.
It does not have to be football. Soccer, baseball, NASCAR racing, golf, bowling, horse racing, ice hockey, curling, bass fishing and who knows what are other areas in which fantasy leagues exist, so there is enough poison to pick from.
It is not a complete waste of time, as some might say. True, you don’t burn any fat in a fantasy sport league. Some take it too seriously and relationships might go downhill, but I still say it’s a healthy hobby that everyone can enjoy. Above all, it brings more fun to the real game.
by Brian Lee