I've been playing Fantasy Football for four years now. I was a founding member of a league at work called the Ink Monkeys, mostly because DC was so into it. I felt it was a measure of self-protection.
My first year, for which there are no records because we switched from CBS, I finished 7 of 14 or 12. I can't remember. The last two years I've finished in 11th place. At least I'm consistent.
So this year, my draft strategy was a little different. Gone were any emotional attachments. I ripped out any notions of team preference. What did it matter that I always hated Miami? When Daunte was still available in the middle of Round 4, I hesitated only a moment and then took him, forgetting how he done me wrong in 2004 with those pesky -1 point interceptions and fumbles. I must clarify that this was only a few weeks after surgery and I was on drugs.
So here I am, with The Claymores, a fine team that has scored the league high point total for 2 weeks running and my eyelid is twitching over Daunte. Sundays are punctuated with happy dances and flying profanity. My daughter hides in her room. She says she hates football.
Sometimes I do too. But mostly, it's fun as hell.
I was always haughty about NFL football. Lots of women are. All they see are silly contests that men get all worked up over and prioritized over mowing the lawn or going to a cookout with the inlaws on Sunday afternoons. I have friends who refuse to let me talk about football in their presence. They think it is a meaningless waste of time, and some, I suspect, think I'm trying too hard to be one of the guys.
(Don't underestimate the value of shared football obsessions in social situations, ladies. Men who otherwise would have nothing to say to each other will talk for hours at a party they didn't want to go to in the first place.)
But truth is, I get it now. I understand that it's about stories. It's about characters and history. Heroes and villains. Success and failure. All the good things about athletic competition are there (except actual physical movement, in my case.) I know I"m not the first to draw this conclusion, but there's a difference between hearing it and actuallyexperiencing it.
I don't think everyone MUST love football. If you don't get it and don't want to, that's cool. That's why there's baseball, basketball and World of Warcraft. And truly, some people are real SOBs about football. It IS just a game, after all. But I really enjoy it. Sometimes I wonder what our society would be like without this relatively harmless outlet for aggression and competition.
Outlet for me, I mean.
I almost didn't play this year because I get so mad on Sundays when I lose. Honestly, I may hate to lose more than I like to win. Winning feels transitory because I start worrying on Tuesday about Sunday. Losing just sticks with me all freakin' week.
I do have my own twist on being a fan. I don't get the whole team loyalty thing. I'll switch at the drop of a helmet. I like teams based on intangibles, who's on the roster, whether I think they are good sports and treat players fairly (as in not the Titans, poor Billy). And, yes, who's cute. I make no apologies for this. It's just my personal quirk, I guess. When I was in junior high school, I had a terrible, as-only-adolescent-girls-have crush on New England tight end Russ Francis. My girlfriend and I got to seem them play in Atlanta. I saw him on the sidelines. From the back. Without a helmet. He was so dreeeeeamy. Sigh.
So in addition to the obsessive strategizing, roster changing and integrating of massive amounts of otherwise useless information, I get to hang out with my husband, sons (sometimes) and watch good-looking men play a game that looks like a lot of fun. Occasionally, I get to talk smack with friends in the League and eat snack foods.
And sometimes I win.