This problem started a long time ago, when, as a kid, and I learned and loved to keep score during baseball games.
I had my own official score book for the Chicago Cubs. It did not matter if they were playing on TV or I was listening to the game on the radio. I always kept score.
Once in a while, I would have my transistor radio on at night and keep track of my beloved Chicago Bulls, some 15 years before a guy name Michael Jordan took over and redefined Chicago and NBA basketball history.
But it was baseball, and stats that became a part of me. That love eventually led to my dream sports job of working in professional baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
When I left the club in 1994 however, I went into stats rehab. It was years before I would even think of watching a game and not, somehow compile the numbers in my head.
So when I was asked for the first time to play Fantasy Football four years ago, I immediately waved off co-workers and told them
“I used to eat stats for a living. Thanks, but I think I will pass.”
But there was something deeper that I had an issue with that stopped me from playing Fantasy Football.
Watching these people pore over names, numbers and rosters, I asked myself, “Does Fantasy Football Alter A Fan- Team Relationship? More plainly said, does it ruin the game for the fan?
I mean, as an owner, you were bound to be rooting for individual players to get “their points” and maybe, god forbid, drafting a hated player n a rival team since he could help you win a game.
How do I know this, you might be asking yourself…..
Well, as long as I am in this fantasy counseling session, I will admit that this year, for the first time, I joined a Fantasy Football league.
Call it Jewish guilt. By my 14 year old son.
In the past year, he was turned into a walking ESPN recap machine, spitting out every update that comes through his smart phone. Now, when he gives me the latest score from a professional league I have no interest in, I look at him with a straight face and hum the ESPN theme “dana-na na — dana-na na.”
At first he was amused, now, not so much.
But my point remains. I grew up, suffered, celebrated and now an suffering again as a lifelong Chicago Bears fan (we have not won the Super Bowl since 1985.
The kid however, came to me and said this fall he wanted to play in a Fantasy Football League. Knowing that sports can be an addiction, I thought I better get involved to control this dangerous but enjoyable outlet.
So I rustled up my father and my best friend to put together a four team league.
We held a draft at my place, my father was calling in from his war room, er, retirement home in Arizona and we picked our teams.
After week one, my gut still said the same thing.
“I don’t like what you are eating and drinking on the weekends AND… Fantasy Football ruins the team vs Individual relationship.”
Who was I rooting for, the Bear or my individual players.
I am not going to tell if you if I won or lost (I did not win) but my old addiction krept back into play during the game. I continuously looked at the latest stats on my smart phone during the day.
Shame on me.
I wanted to swear this FFL thing off forever.
By week three, three of the four of us were taunting each other when someone lost (disclosure, my dad did not figure out how to even substitute players until week six). So there was pride, a bit of ribbing and it has become more fun.
Now, heading into week 9, I must leave you now and update my roster before the games start.
Oh yeah, and the Bears are 7-1 and in first place. Still the best stat I know if.
I am still recovering…..
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