Fantasy football may, at this point still seem to be for small circles of avid football fans. It might seem that extensive knowledge and time put into the noble sport is the only way to get success. If only the latter were true, then I wouldn’t have to bear the fact that I am currently losing to my stepmom who to this date has done approximately 15.4 seconds of football research, and had the ESPN database draft her team. Though I am certainly bitter about this current situation, I am comparatively more excited that the enthusiasm and accessibility to fantasy football is spreading.
The internet and modern technology has certainly helped it get off the ground. Powerful databases and well designed smartphone apps give everyone access to in game scoring and videos and articles from fantasy analysts (yeah that’s a real job). These fantasy analysts make predictions about what players they think are going to be good fantasy, but because the NFL is so crazy and hard to predict, it’s really up to each league owner. Knowledge helps in theory, but in practice luck has a huge role. So, if fantasy football doesn’t have a lot of skill, and generates people with job titles like “Fantasy Sports Analyst” how can it be so fun? The answer lies with the people involved.
In 2013, I started a fantasy football league with seven friends from my club soccer team and two little siblings (who also happen to be on the same club soccer team). Though our team isn’t together anymore, and the members are all off at different colleges across the country, the league is going strong. For three Augusts in a row, the members have met up to draft our teams, eat pizza and catch up. Like our soccer team and our own lives, our fantasy league is pretty ridiculous. For example, one member didn’t check his team for nine straight weeks, but then went on to win the championship–a true fantasy zombie. Another classic is our league’s obsession with Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, who stayed true to his name and served a suspension for Marijuana use and possession. I think our group chat could win a Guinness world record for most football combined with weed puns.
Regardless of whether or not you think the team name “Big Hit on Blount” is funny, it cannot be denied that fantasy football has brought me and my friends closer. The cohesion could be attributed to every members strong desire to defeat their friends, but there is something else that makes our league special. One week in the first season, I decided to write a league power rankings, with comical opinions on each fantasy team’s strength. It became such a fun way to interact during the season, that there has been some form of these rankings for every week since. Our structured trash talk has enabled us to stay engaged with the league even from so many miles away.
This year, I continued to spread the fantasy gospel and convinced my family members of varying degrees of reluctance to join me in the creation of the East West Bashaw Bowl, where our Bay Area based kin and Southeastern Pennsylvania goons could square off for familial bragging rights. We have collectively shelved all of our filial piety and are out to prove who has the optimal fantasy football genes, and talking to each other more than usual in the process.
Fantasy football has the power to be transformative, and I’m not just talking about the internet famous “Tattoo leagues”, where the loser gets a permanent tattoo of the winner’s choice. I’m also not simply referring to the fact that I will never be able to watch an NFL game in my life without thinking of fantasy points. What I mean to say is that something that is only based on reality has bolstered my interpersonal relationships and provided me with lots of fun and distraction on those Sunday afternoons in the library. The previously mentioned power rankings are actually what inspired me to start writing for this very paper.