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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

My sports life is a fantasy

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Fantasy football is the devil." It was a simple text message I got from a friend Sunday afternoon that stated so much in five little words.

Yes, I am a 'fantasy football geek.' I didn't mean to be, it just sort of happened. What began as signing up for a team on a lark has turned into an obsession and not exactly one I'm all that proud of.

For those of you who aren't familiar with fantasy football, consider yourself lucky. But to fill you in, fantasy football is basically a bunch of people in a league that draft NFL players before the season begins. Then, each Sunday, your players accumulate points based on how many touchdowns they score, yards they run for, etc. You play another person in your league each week and the one with the most points wins. Then at the end of the season the top teams make the playoffs and then there is a winner, much like the NFL itself.

Sounds like harmless fun right? That's what I thought too when I started nearly 10 years ago. I would fix my lineup on Thursday and then not worry about it again until the next Thursday. Then a funny thing started happening. I started winning.

One thing you should know about me is I'm about as competitive as they come. I get mad when I lose a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors," to a stranger on the street, not to mention when I lose a fantasy football game to a friend. So the better my team did, the more I wanted to win.

Unfortunately, the more I wanted to win, the more time and effort I put in to it. What started as checking the team once a week turned into checking my teams multiple times daily. But you have to because you never know what player is going to shoot himself in the leg, twist his ankle on the way out of the nightclub or even get hurt on the football field.

Then you have to gauge the match-ups for each player. If you have a running back that is facing a team with a weak run defense, you have to start them. If you have a player against a tough defense, you need to bench them. Or so is the theory.

Then you have to discuss these match-ups with anyone who will listen. My wife is not one of those people, although she has played fantasy football many times in the past. You haven't seen embarrassment until your wife wins a fantasy football league title, beating you in the process. It is a sad, sad day, let me tell you. My wife is now no longer invited to play.

But for those of us who still play, Sunday is an event all to itself. As my wife heads to the bedroom to read I turn on my televisions. That's right, plural. I will have a game on each television and by halftime of the day's first games, I have the computer on with my up-to-the-second stat tracker I paid for. Yes, I paid for a program to track my statistics because I ran out of pencils trying to add, subtract and multiply stats all day on Sunday. After all, it is fantasy football, not homework.

The up-to-the-second stats are needed though so I can scream at the television when my quarterback throws an interception or when my running back I benched (obviously because he was against a tough defense) scores four stinking touchdowns! I need to know when my wide receiver catches a 99-yard touchdown pass and when to yell at the television for a quarterback to throw to a certain receiver so I can get more points. Because, after all, the coach can hear me when I yell at the TV.

Then, when the dust settles, the talking begins. If you win, you can send all sorts of insults to the opponent you've just beaten. If you lose, you must sit there and take all of the insults. None worse than the "I don't even know who is on my team and I still beat you," my wife has thrown out at me.

And, of course, I am not in one league, but multiple leagues because one team is obviously not punishment enough. If playing fantasy football wasn't enough, I also take part in fantasy baseball, fantasy golf, fantasy basketball and have even played fantasy hockey. But let me tell you, it sure isn't any fantasy. I mean there aren't any cheerleaders or anything. Yes, fantasy football is the devil and I am one of the biggest sinners around.

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David Jenkins
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