Fantasy Football: The Grim Reaper of Your Football Soul

If the typos become too numerous, you’ll have to excuse me. You see, it’s not easy to write while wearing a straight jacket. Now that I think about it, the blank, padded walls aren’t conducive to much creativity either.

All right, I’m not really in an insane asylum. Not literally, that is. I’m merely expressing the way people want me to feel regarding my beliefs towards Fantasy Football. As the game rapidly grows in numbers (of people playing), I choose to step aside while the Fantasy bus picks up countless dweebs and nimrods along the way.

I consider myself a diehard football fan, to the point of micromanaging my Autumn planbook for optimal football viewing. Fall wedding? Out of the question. Going to bed at a decent hour? Not when I could be watching a re-broadcast of some MAC game. Even rounds of golf or microbrew fests take a back seat to watching football. But there is a fine line that I will not cross, and that is where reality turns into fantasy.

No matter how many others have fallen prey to Fantasy Football’s value-distortion scheme, I will not stick my foot into that trap. I cannot believe my eyes when I see lifelong Giants fans cheering for Clinton Portis. Or Bears fans high-five over a Brett Favre touchdown pass. Or worst of all, any decent human being celebrating anything that Terrell Owens does on the field.

Free agency has scattered players around the league to the point that it’s almost inconceivable for someone to play with one team their entire career. Because of that, it is understandable for some fans to follow their favorite player from city to city. Casual fans might find themselves pulling for whatever team their city of residence is closest to- again, understandable. For every diehard fan, there are probably two or three fickle ones who only show up when their team is in the payoffs. However, until Fantasy Football reared its ugly head, there was never any fan admittedly rooting for ten different teams (some of who play each other) on game day.

Fantasy Football also distorts the sense of a player’s value. Super Bowl winning quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady take a backseat to statistical wunderkinds such as Trent Green or Marc Bulger. Take a survey in Missouri and find out how many fans wouldn’t trade the latter two for the former two. Yet in Fantasy Football, where team victories count as much as pancake blocks, Big Ben and Brady are afterthoughts. More value is assigned to Kurt Warner racking up passing yards in a meaningless 4th quarter than the fact that his Cardinals are 3-8 at the time.

What I find so comical about those who play Fantasy Football is that they have this sense that they truly know football. They believe this, even though most fantasy leagues are predicated solely on offensive performance. The last time I checked, the offense represents only 1/3 of the sport. Just because someone can tell me how many yards per catch Jeb Putzier had last year doesn’t mean that I’m going to buy him a beer and jump into a conversation about the merits of the Cover 2. I find it’s quite the opposite. While the fantasy nerds can set up their roster based on opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, they have no idea why said strengths and weaknesses exist. Want to get a blank stare from a geek? Ask them what makes Pittsburgh’s 3-4 alignment tougher to run against than Houston’s 4-3.

So, if you are thinking about drafting a team, I urge you to look into the mirror and ponder this: How is Fantasy Football any different than Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering? If you have ever teased someone for playing either of those games, then run, don’t walk, to the nearest dictionary and look up hypocrisy.

The temptation might be great. Chances are that you know someone who is in a league. It would be fun, you should join, they might say. There might even be a cash prize awaiting the winner, but at what price? Your diehard fan status. Your bar argument credibility. Your football soul.

What Fantasy Football is doing borders on criminal. So much so, that if I were to assign a symbol to represent Fantasy Football’s evil empire, it would probably look like a hybrid of the Raiders and the Ravens logos. No one wants to be associated with criminals, so I urge you all to come with me. Buck the trend and enjoy the most beautiful sport in the world: Reality Football.

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