19 August 2009

Fantasy Sports

You women readers may want to get the men involved in this one. The end of Summer always marks one huge landmark event for me: Drafting my Fantasy Football Team. I admit, I am addicted, hooked, lined and sinkered. I started playing fantasy football in 1997, out of curiosity to see what it was all about. I had no clue. All I knew is that when I was watching football games, they had a little ticker at half time about the fantasy impact. This was enough to get me to start to dabble. Sheer curiosity. So I did a team. Then I did it again, now I can not wait for it. It doesn't stop at football either. I do fantasy basketball. I have a fantasy baseball team. I even have a football survival team, football pick 'em bracket, and salary cap fantasy football. Shamefully, the same curiosity got me into a fantasy NASCAR bracket, fantasy Wimbledon Bracket (I have a crush on most of the female tennis players from Europe), and fantasy golf. Thankfully the last three didn't stick.

A quick synopsis of fantasy sports. You get into a league against friends (or strangers) who all draft a mock team. Any current active player is free game. You can draft the quarterback from the Dolphons to throw to the receiver from the 49ers. So you get your team together and place them in their spots and whatever stats they earn in the real game, gets transferred over to your team stats. So the trick is getting the lineup each week of the guys that are going to have the good stats. Then your fantasy stats are matched up against another's fantasy stats and the team with the best stats wins the game that week. This may be confusing to the non-fantasy player, but it doesn't matter.

My point in all of this is really not to give a sales pitch for fantasy sports. If you have not ventured into that world, and are a sports fan, you are definitely missing out. Think of it as Dungeons and Dragons for former athletes-or the "wish-they-were-athletes for that matter. The games come with all sorts of unspoken rituals and bragging rights. A "my dad can beat up your dad" sort of game.

In recent years I have realized something about playing fantasy sports though. It has ruined my fanmanship. (Did I just make up a word?) This has become more and more apparent due to the constant cajoling and mocking from my family. Yes, I will elaborate. ( Yes, I know I am pretending someone is asking me questions as I write.)

My family is a sports family. Sports fans all around. Football fanatics. (It was very important for me to use the entire root word for fan there when mentioning football. It really brings out the true definition.) My Grandpa played every sport and coached every sport. He was so actively involved in the sports program at East High, right up to his death last summer, that I am sure a field, arena, or weight room in the future will have his name on it. His sons, my uncles, all played every sport as well, some as far as college. My immediate family, IE- dad and brothers, all played. As far as football goes, they are all avid Chicago Bears fans. My sister-in-law, amazingly (or maybe not coincidentally), is a Bears fan as well. (That makes it easier on game days I would imagine.) I have 4 brothers. 2 of them, plus my dad, cheer the bears rain or shine, even the Kyle Orton years. They know exactly where they stand. The other likes the Giants, and one likes the 49ers. (Get to the point you say, and stop with the parenthesis?) Had you asked me years ago, I would have said I was a New York Jets fan-and I may still be. I am not sure what ever happened to make me a New York Jets fan, except I recall getting a replica Mark Gastineau jersey, number 99, for Christmas when I was not more than 8 years old. So I started watching the Jets. Thankfully I avoided watching the Broncos and the Chargers even though they were on TV the most.

Back to fantasy sports. Fantasy sports have destroyed my ability to choose and cheer for a favorite team. Living in Utah makes it hard to side with any football team. I know the Mormon world likes to side with the 49ers because Steve Young played there and that somehow makes them an honorary LDS team, but not me. So my brothers have given me a lot of lip the last few years and have tried to force my hand. I have been called a fair weather fan. A bandwagoner. Truth is, I am not sure what to do about it. I cheer for the players that end up on my fantasy team. To be honest, I do not like this situation. I need to pick a team. I thought for a while I would become a Packers fan, because I loved watching Favre, and I had a couple of the Green Bay receivers on my teams, but I just can't bring myself to get behind Rodgers. He looks too awkward. And I could never cheer for Minnesota. Favre should be ashamed of himself!

I want a team I can get behind. How does someone choose a favorite team anyway? Its almost obvious that if you live in Dallas, you like the Cowboys. Again, though, Utah does not have that hometown tie. With basketball we have it. With baseball we sort of have it (the Salt Lake Bees are the farm team for the Angels.) So I pose this question...what do you sports fans look for in choosing a favorite team? How do you readers choose your team? I know which teams I hate, but can't settle on one team to cheer on. I want one to hang pennants in my den and by replica jerseys again. Rebecca likes the Colts, but it started because she thinks Peyton Manning is cute. She use to like the Patriots for the same reason, as in Tom Brady. Obviously, I don't have that same draw. Over the last 10 years I have transitioned in baseball from a Mets fan to an Angels fan because of watching so many Salt Lake games and getting to know the players. (I was a Mets fan because that was my little league team mascot.) Not getting to know the players personally, but watching them in Salt Lake and then seeing them play in "the bigs." Baseball is easy. I am a huge baseball fan, almost to the point that I do not need a team because I just like watching the game. But...

I want to pick a side.

I want to be a fanatic.

Fantasy sports is making that difficult.