It’s Not Fun – It’s Fantasy

People have this strange tendency for self-destruction, to imagine their worst fears on endless loop and lash out at loved ones and subscribe to email newsletters they don’t actually want to read. This isn’t having one too many at happy hour or putting off work for an extra hour of sleep. People, all people, do things that don’t feel good in the moment or pay off in the long run. It’s one of the mysteries that makes humanity both compelling and maddening.

What I am trying to say is, I cannot comprehend why we all keep playing fantasy football.

Be real. Fantasy football is an infuriating, torturous exercise. There is no joy in stashing backups in hopes a starter’s ACL explodes, scrambling to pick up the replacement for a stud player suspended for domestic violence, or agonizing over which of three people you have literally never heard of before in your life is most likely to fall into the end zone this weekend.

The correct answer to every “who should I start this weekend?” question is “I have no fucking idea, and neither do you, but someone who is paid to pretend he knows the answer says you should play Adam Humphries.” The whole process sets you up to make a series of ill-informed decisions that leave you second-guessing and hating yourself.

Like I was saying, I cannot comprehend why we all keep doing this to ourselves.  

There is only one exception to the misery – draft day. The fantasy draft is a genuine moment of fun and camaraderie, a chance to reconnect with friends, exchange juvenile trash talk, and eat pizza. No complaints. Unfortunately, everything tumbles downhill the second the draft ends. Here’s a graph of the typical journey from one day of enjoyment to a 16-week roller-coaster of self-loathing and frustration:

You picked up Frank Gore again this year, didn’t you? I know, I know. I did too.

You may argue that fantasy football helps you keep in touch with old friends. And hey, I’m all for friendship. But how much of the time you invest in fantasy football is spent catching up with friends, versus reading injury reports and staring at the projected points for players on the waiver wire? Does fantasy lead to more time meaningfully interacting with former classmates you haven’t talked to lately, or more time shout-begging Drew Brees to throw to the tight end through a TV screen? Watching your fantasy football projected score is like watching the New York Times election ticker every weekend for four months. It’s not a fantasy. It’s a nightmare.

We’ve created a prisoner’s dilemma. We’d all be better off if we agreed to walk away from fantasy and meet to grab a beer every once one in a while – but if any one of us steps away, that person has “ditched the group.” We’re holding each other hostage.

Maybe, someday, we can set each other free. Or maybe we’ll just keep on keeping on. People are funny that way. Excuse me – I have to go set my lineup.



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