Wednesday, August 27, 2014

There's No Place for "Fantasy" in Football

As he grows up, who knows where the boy's interests will lead him? 

Perhaps he'll gravitate toward something productive like woodworking, or writing computer code. Maybe he'll be a fitness fanatic and fall in love with jogging or yoga. 

That's the ideal isn't it? When your hobbies serve the dual purpose of being a release but also a productive (maybe even profitable) way to spend time. Yep that's the ideal. 

The polar opposite of that ideal is where I found myself last night — sitting with ten guys in a sports bar, crowded around a table picking real football players for imaginary football teams. 

Pictured: the first hit on a Google Image search for "wasting time."
Coincidentally, this guy looks like half of the fantasy football
analysts you'll find on television.
There we were, eating wings and drinking beer (or, if you want to get technical, killing ourselves slowly) with laptops parked in front of us as we drafted players for our teams and relentlessly ridiculed one another for the presumed idiocy of one another's picks. 

For the uninitiated (aka those smart enough to spend their time wisely) fantasy football is a game in which participants complete a roster with real football players, selected from across the NFL. The individual performance of these players is combined with others on your roster and matched up against the performance of another person's roster in your league. 

Yes, yes, yes, it sounds trivial, maybe even pointless and, from its name to the amount of time I spend on it, I can assure you that it is. 

The sad realities of this so-called fantasy are many, and include:

- missing out on intimate family moments 

- drifting in and out of important conversations with your spouse  

- time that could be spent reading mind-expanding literature by renowned authors is instead spent reading people who know less than you about football but, because they work for a web site, you listen to them

- watching co-workers become alienated, angry and inhospitable should you beat them

- becoming the alienated, angry and inhospitable co-worker

- distractedly checking scores while in the midst of important tasks, like driving
But I can assure you, it's all worth it. 

It must be. Why else would one endure the abject humiliation that arises when you feel the need to lie upon being asked a simple, innocent question like, "Hey, what did you do on Sunday?"

"Well, I'm so glad you asked Bob. First, I got up, turned on the TV to the NFL network to see what their idiot fantasy football analysts were saying. I yelled at them for the better part of an hour while my son watched me. He got upset and he wanted to watch "Little Einsteins." He started crying but, you know...... 

Next, my wife dragged me to church where I tried my best to not get caught looking at my phone because I was concerned my kicker was injured. After that we went out for lunch where I half-assed it through every conversation I had with everyone I came across because my thoughts were on which running back to start. 

When we got home, I watched an ungodly amount of football before I finally closed out my day by successfully suppressing the urge to punch a wall because San Diego's back-up running back couldn't score one, stinking touchdown from the three-yard line with ten seconds left — which would have given my team the win. All in all it was just the perfect Sunday Bob. Oh hey — before I forget — do you know any divorce attorneys?"
"Sorry son, they'll just have to wait. Daddy has more important
matters to take care of."

Why does one put themselves through this? Is it the $200 prize awaiting the winner? A quick glimpse at the numbers shows that spending 30 hours a week for four months to make $200 isn't favorable math.

No, there really is no justification other than, it's fun. It's ridiculously fun. It's somewhat interactive and undeniably addictive. It's competitive and it's not a conversation about the Middle East. Not that that's the only alternative, but sometimes one just doesn't want to think about Ebola, global warming or the presumed decay of Western Civilization. Fantasy football is the definition of a diversion and sometimes that's all us mouth breathing troglodytes are looking for.

For her part, Mrs. Blackwell is extremely tolerant. It doesn't hurt that I won my league and the $200 last year, somewhat justifying the angst, though never the time.

But this year will be a bit different. After nine years of doing this, I'm committing to maintaining perspective and priorities. It is, after all, just a game. 

We know it's damn sure not a fantasy.

EDITOR'S NOTE: We here at Blackwell's Mark are big believers that anyone who watches football qualifies as a "fantasy expert." That said, I put my team together and, naturally, I hate it. Your thoughts and criticisms are welcome. But be kind.

QB: Philip Rivers
RB1:Jamaal Charles
RB2: Gio Bernard
WR1:Julio Jones
WR2: Keenan Allen
FLEX: Aaron Dobson
TE: Zach Ertz
K: Robbie Gould
D/ST: St. Louis

Bench: WR, Roddy White (this was a mistake, autopick got me here), RB, Lamar Miller, RB, Jonathan Steward, QB, Philip Rivers, QB, Carson Palmer (yes, three GASP! QBs), WR Tavon Austin, TE, Travis Kelce

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