Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How Fantasy Football Makes Me a Bad Person

The one thing that cushions the blow of summer ending, for me, is that it coincides with the start of football season. I am a big pro football fan. (The Jets are my team. Although they only occasionally resemble a pro football team.) Since the Jets more often than not make my Sundays miserable, since they more often than not make football irrelevant for me late in the season because they're usually out of it, fantasy football keeps me invested. And, most of the time, it keeps me happy as well. Recently I shared with you why I need fantasy football. I highlighted the positives that come from my participating in this annual Dungeons-and-Dragons-for-jocks exercise.

But it's not all a positive experience. There is a dark side. Yes, this game could certainly take a sinister turn. In fact, fantasy football can bring out the worst in me. Here's five ways how:

1. No compassion I root for people to get and stay injured. This goes against everything my dad ever taught me about sports. I remember one Sunday when the Jets were playing the Patriots. I was about 10 years-old. One of the Patriots' top players got hurt and I cheered. My dad yelled at me. "You don't cheer for someone to get hurt," my dad told me. "He's someone's son and father. Besides, you want to beat them with their best." From that point on, I didn't root for injuries. I felt compassion. Except...

In fantasy football, it benefits your team if your opponent's players are injured. If they don't play, their team is weaker, giving you a better chance of winning. So hoping - maybe even praying, I confess - a stud player on the team you're playing takes one more week to rest that sore hamstring is not out of the question. Sorry, dad.

2. Lack of sympathy Not even death can thaw my cold, win-at-all-costs heart. True story: One year, my fantasy quarterback was Matt Cassel, then of the New England Patriots. (Why is it always about the Patriots? They haunt me, I tell ya.) It was the year Tom Brady was hurt. Late in the season, during the time where the fantasy football playoffs take place, Cassel's dad died. You'd think a guy who's also lost his dad would be sympathetic? No. I was annoyed. There was a chance he wouldn't play, depending on the arrangements, how much he'd been able to practice, and his state of mind. I was constantly monitoring both sports websites and the obituaries in Cassel's hometown for crying out loud, to find out when the funeral would be and if he'd play. This was the playoffs, after all. MY playoffs.

Here the guy was grieving the loss of his dad, one of the most devastating times of a person's life. (I should know, right?) And all I could think about was how it would affect my fantasy football team. Cassel played, by the way. He had a great game and eventually led me to my second straight championship. May his dad continue to rest in peace.

3. Disloyalty It actually makes me root for teams for whom I would never root. Once again, the Patriots for example. Last season I was pulling for the Patriots to beat Houston late in the season. At the time, Houston was close to wrapping up their division and a playoff spot. If they did so, they would rest their starters the last few games, during what is normally fantasy playoff time. Their top running back - Arian Foster - was MY top running back. He was carrying my first-place team. I needed Houston to have something to play for. So I rooted for the Patriots. For my own benefit. They won. Again with the stinkin' Patriots.

4. Hatred It makes me hate my friends sometimes. The same guys I've known since third grade. The same guys I wrote about a little more than a month ago, who I said, "never disappoint me." Those guys. During fantasy football season, I pretty much hate each and every one them. Even if I'm not playing them. I hate them for succeeding and I hate them for sucking. I guess, that really does make this fantasy, since in real life I cheer their successes and try to offer whatever help I can when they're down. In fantasy football? Pure disdain. I even hate their families. Brutal. I cheer for the Patriots and hate my best friends. It's a world turned upside down.

5. Sleep deprivation I wake up at 3:45am for work. Yet, I often find myself watching otherwise uninteresting games at ungodly hours of the night to follow otherwise uninteresting players. Fantasy football makes me watch a Monday Night Football game between the Ravens and Bengals (who cares?) because someone named BenJarvis Green-Ellis (who's he?) needs 80 yards and touchdown for my opponent to eek out a narrow victory over me. (He did, by the way. And I lost. So that Tuesday morning I was tired AND angry.)

There have been times, like with the Matt Cassel thing, where I thought I should take a season off for a little bit of perspective. Sometimes My Director says if I put as much time and energy into my actual job, I'd be running the network. Maybe. But I'm doing just fine... in both my real job and my fantasy one. Besides, who needs perspective? That's why they call it fantasy.


  1. Haha I agree I too am a huge fantasy football person and it does sent I rule my life at times.


  2. You need to separate the key differences between what should be- a) your favorite hobby/activity you can still call your own (I gladly gave up ALL other ones, once I became a father in June of 09')
    and what, right now is- b) a dangerous, mood changing, all consuming (time, level of joy, money, principles,friendships, Outlook on life, career goals, etc.) negative OBSESSION that will affect you and the people in your life in a negative way.
    If you are compromising your principles in any way (in reality u r compromising them in the worst way, and seems like every week of the regular season- good thing ur not giant fan like me and had the 2 greatest playoff runs in NFL history take up more of ur time lol)
    You need to understand how this affecting,not only yourself, but more importantly, your loved ones????
    I'm sure they r greatly affected by your rapid change in moods week to week, day to day and in some cases, hour to hour! This is not healthy, and if you think u r unable to turn it into, what should be a fun and enjoyable time of year for you and ur family, than just like a drug or alcohol or gambling addiction (fantasy is gambling people even if the law doesn't state it yet, the fundamental cause and affect r the same),you need to most definitely take a year off and seriously analyze the situation .....
    Is fantasy football worth damaging relationships with loved ones, and compromising your principles worth it?
    I think you know the answer to that one and maybe not ready to admit it... not judging but actually empathizing with u bc I was the same way for years and thankfully now, get to enjoy it no matter what happens on Sunday between 1pm and 1130 pm....


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