By Travis Stahl
The Monday Morning Quarterback is the smartest person we know. The couch coach knows all and sees all and is willing to share it with whoever will listen. As sports fans we watch games knowing which players to put in, which to take, what plays to call, who needs to be traded and what kind of butter the stadium should put on the popcorn. Because passionate sports fans possess all of this knowledge we have an inherit responsibility woven into our DNA that forces us to do something completely obsessive, play fantasy sports.
Fantasy sports is every enthusiasts dream come true. We get to chose the players on our team, determine how often they play, get rid of players that are underperforming and come up with clever names for our teams to make other people in our leagues chuckle. Fantasy sports allow us to put the knowledge we think we possess on display. If things go well for our fantasy teams, we get to walk around like the lord of the manor telling anybody within ear shot about the great decision we made to start Julio Jones against the Colts. On the down side, when he decide to start Jones the following week and he has not catches there is no worse experience. We chose not to talk about these mishaps and we don’t want other people to bring them up either.
Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, NASCAR, it doesn’t matter, we’re in. Why did fantasy sports blow up into such a popular activity? Simple, we want to be a part of our favorite sports because we can’t play them. Obviously though this still leaves us completely qualified to coach and manage a team. For 99 percent of the population we don’t have the ability to play professional basketball, baseball or football. Some people play these sports in high school but beyond that their playing days are over. Fantasy sports allow people to remain connected to the sports they love. Anybody can go out on the weekends and play golf or tennis but those same people don’t have access to Jeff Gordon’s Chevy to make a few laps around the track.
For the most part we as fantasy sports enthusiasts are overweight, out of shape and broken down. We’re not getting called up to pitch for the Cubs. We’re not going to throw down a monster dunk in Kobe’s face and we’re not going to pick off a Tom Brady pass and run it in for six. But we still dream about it thinking maybe we could be the 12th man on the end of the bench, the third-string quarterback or the guy in the tight tan pants that tapes ankles on the sideline.
Part of the reason fantasy sports become so competitive to us is that we are involved in leagues with our friends. We have draft parties, we tease each other about draft picks and we construct silly prizes for the winners. Playing fantasy sports with friends is the perfect podium to talk some trash. There is no better phone call or email to make to a friend after you’ve been losing by 59 points heading into the Monday night game only to wake up Tuesday morning and realize Drew Brees scored 60 for your team. That’s right, it was another brilliant move on our part, nobody else would have had Brees in their line-up in that situation.
We play fantasy sports because it is a way for us to compete. In our daily lives there is not a whole lot of competition. Fantasy sports keeps us connected to the teams and players we love and lets us keep in touch with our friends. It allows us to keep at least one small grip on the dreams of our childhood and give us the faintest glimpse at success in pro sports. Plus, it provides us with another excuse to scream at our television screens.