Remember, fantasy football isn’t real

By Ryan Fitzgerald – Co-Editor-in-Chief 

Oh Sundays. We love them for football, nachos, and the community feeling we get from spending game day with friends to watch our favorite team compete. But what some of us have come to love even more about Sundays is managing our own football team. Well, fantasy football team.

Each Sunday we eagerly sit behind our computer screens ‘coaching’ our team to a hopeful victory. And by coaching I mean yelling and consciously observing the players on our roster, begging them to outperform the players on the opposing roster so we can rant to our friends for the next week on how our team and more importantly, we are superior. The possessive quality that fantasy football has is real.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the fantasy game is all done online and goes like this. There’s usually 10 teams in a league; one person controls one team each, each team drafts players from all NFL teams before the season starts, each team starts a 10 player roster against a team in their league each week, each player earns points based on their game performance, the team with the most points at the end of the week wins. At the end of the season the top teams make the playoffs to compete for the championship. Easy enough once you get into it.

Now I can’t be a hypocrite here. I do love fantasy football. My friends and I have played in a league for the past seven years. It started with bragging rights and has evolved into competing for money. It’s exciting and adds another element to my Sunday football experience.

But sometimes I have to remind myself this fantasy game is just that, fantasy. To define fantasy, I’ll say it is imagination. We might fantasize over living in a mansion in Hawaii, winning the lottery, or marrying Mila Kunis.

Fantasy football is a mental game. But many are convinced it’s more than that. They imagine that this is my team, these are my players who better perform well or else I get to keep them on the team or send them off to free agency. Maybe part of the reason is because we label people with a fantasy team, ‘fantasy owners.’ It may seem real but you really own nothing.

This idea that the team is ours has gone too far. I don’t have a Twitter account but I’ve seen tweets online of ‘fantasy owners’ sending unsatisfied tweets to athletes because they did not perform well enough for their team to secure the win that week as if they are an owner. (Thank God NFL team owners don’t act like this)

And I’m sure athletes love this. They prepare all week for a real game, play their heart out to a win or loss and then face fan complaints over something they really have no interest in or control over. It’s the player’s job to win for their team, not your fantasy.

I’m not lost in the realm of fantasy like these participants but I really wonder what makes someone act this way. If I had a question for a professional football player it most certainly would not be, ‘how come you didn’t fight for those extra 10 yards so I could win my fantasy game!?’

Matthew Berry is a Senior Writer for ESPN who specializes in analyzing fantasy football. He wrote a great column on September 23 where he mocks ‘fantasy owners’ who take to Twitter to voice their complaints against football players.

In the column Berry has a fake conversation with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson where Peterson explains how he was injured on purpose to personally ruin fantasy owners’ seasons. It’s funny but also upsetting to know that people take it this seriously.

Again, I love fantasy football. I’m only saying we have to remember that the game is fake. Fantasy is a conflicting sport that is fun when you win but frustrating when you don’t. If you’re not doing well (my record is 1-3) don’t beat yourself up, or anyone else for that matter, over it.

You don’t own the players and they’re not playing for you. There are more important ideals in this world to be upset over. The game has become so popular I often think about what it was like to watch football without a fantasy world. I can only imagine.


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