What if I told you that once a year you’d have to spend two or three days pouring over spreadsheets, websites, and publications in a panicked fit of preparation? Then, your homework complete, you would be required to sit in front of a computer for two or three hours and make a series of crucial, complex decisions – each in 90 seconds or less – knowing full well that if you made the smallest error, fell pray to the tiniest lapse in judgement, each one of your dearest and most cherished personal friends would ridicule you vociferously for it. Not just today, but very possibly every day for the rest of your life. You could be on your death bed and a friend you hadn’t spoken to in twenty years might call you and, instead of some heartfelt expression of sympathy, some loving thought that would make your passing into the great unknown that much gentler, he would pause, clear his throat, then howl into your dying ear “LAURENCE MARONEY?!?!”. And then he would laugh, and you would die, and you would welcome the passing because you knew it was finally over. What if I told you that’s what your future held? Would you be OK, or would you look for a way out? Would you beg for mercy? I think you would. Lucky for you, tomorrow can be saved if you just do this one simple thing: stop playing fantasy football right now.
Somehow over the last five years, fantasy football has become ubiquitous. Girlfriends, old ladies, every man who knows how to turn a computer – they all play it. Hell, even my cat has a team – and it’s loaded. Why? Because it’s so darn “fun.” Actually, what you hear most often is that people love fantasy football because it makes watching even games you don’t care about more exciting! Well you know what? If there’s a game you don’t care about, that’s probably a pretty good sign you shouldn’t be watching it. After we’re done watching our favorite team and the local team and the teams on Monday night and Sunday night and whatever Brett Favre and Peyton Manning events get shoved down our throats, do we really need justification to watch the Browns play the Chiefs? The easy thing to say here would be “how about opening a friggin’ book?”. But I’m not gonna do that. Screw books. How about turning on a nice serialized drama? Or just sitting there and staring at the wall? Whatever happened to a good old-fashioned wall stare? I’ll take that over fantasy excitement any day.
Admittedly it is a thrill to see one of your players make a big play or score a touchdown. And when your quarterback throws a bomb to a receiver you also own – well, there is a joy that is not totally non-sexual in nature. I’m man enough to admit that. But that only happens oh so often. What’s far more frequent is a player that you benched one minute before game time scores three touchdowns and the guy you started instead of him gets hurt in the first quarter. That’s a weekly routine. Or your best player rushes for 120 yards but is kept out of the end zone while some scrub on your opponent’s team can’t make it more than 5 feet but scores twice and negates your star’s day. That’s like taking communion in the church of fantasy football. And it’s complete misery. Not just because of what it means to your score, but because of the trash talking. That’s the real fantasy that gets satisfied in this game – not the dream of owning a real football team, but the fantasy that every week you might have a new and painful reason to call your friend a douchebag. That’s why we all really play – the guys, the girlfriends, the grandmas, and most especially my cat: to talk shit. Sure we’ll probably lose, but the good news is that 8 of our friends will lose right along with us – and imagine the crap we can sling then. It’s fun for a while, until you realize they’re slinging crap right back. That’s when it’s clear that maybe you don’t need a backup running back deciding your happiness every week. And you say once and for all, ” you know what, I’m just gonna stare at the wall.”Stop Playing Fantasy Football. Now.