There is this song stuck in my head and I can’t get it out. “Football on your phone!” If you haven’t seen the commercial featuring Peyton and Eli Manning, you should watch it. Or maybe you shouldn’t, because then you would be like me, forever lost in the funky beat. It’s actually pretty terrible, but it’s one of those “It’s so bad, it’s good” things.
But what the song really reminds me of, is that it’s that time of year again. Yep, time to get your boys (or girls) together, grab a few beverages and snacks, gather around a screen of your choice, and… play fantasy football?
That’s right, fantasy football.
While real football players, from high school to professional, are kicking off their seasons this month, fantasy owners are celebrating (or cursing) their draft picks.
According to a story from the Huffington Post, fantasy football now has about 24.3 million players, generating $1 billion annually. However, the time spent playing fantasy football is costing employers roughly $6.5 billion dollars in lost production time. If we add that to the money lost during the annual NCAA March Madness tournament, all of us could buy our own tropical islands.
Fantasy football was started, in earnest, by Oakland Raider affiliates Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach and Bill Tunnell, along with journalist Scotty Starling in a New York hotel room in 1962 or 1963, depending on which version of the story you believe.
Apparently, playing it was supposed to give the football analysts and experts a deeper involvement with and understanding of the statistics involved in the game, but I really think there was some boredom involved somewhere in there too.
The game spread slowly, at first, but in the past few years with the help of free online leagues, quick access to stats, and with fanatic fans becoming even more fanatical (as if that were possible), it has spread throughout the country.
For those that don’t know, the premise of fantasy football revolves around drafting players by position, just like in they do in the annual NFL draft. You keep the players you draft, or you can even initiate trades or release a player. The way you earn points is based on how the athletes perform in the actual game.
There are several different ways to play and leagues to play in and they all have their own set of rules. There are too many to explain here, but I don’t have to explain the level of popularity. Even your grandma may be watching to see how many touchdowns Tom Brady throws. And here you thought she was just watching these guys because they wear such tight pants! I was hoping to see Brady’s supermodel wife on camera myself though, so who am I to judge?
Yes, players are passionate about their fantasy football and the fact that a lot of people play for the proverbial pot of gold at the end, only adds to their passion. Well, it’s not really gold, but it many cases, people play for really money. At least I think it is. Maybe fantasy football winners get fantasy money. Wouldn’t that disappoint a lot of people?
Fortunately or unfortunately, the money is real and so is this problem that has caught my attention.
As the game has grown, I’ve noticed a growing number of fantasy owners who, while almost obsessive followers of the game, don’t seem to even LIKE the actual sport of football! I think there’s even a line about it in that old Alanis Morissette song “Ironic”. Don’t you think? Well, maybe not, seeing how this is actually ironic, or is it psychotic? I always get those two mixed up. Maybe irony is the one-half of a game suspension that Johnny “Football” served in Texas A&M’s first regular season game. No, I’m pretty sure that was just plain stupid.
What I do know, is that playing most types of fantasy football takes up quite a lot of time. I have tried to get involved in several leagues only to find out that I wasn’t nearly dedicated enough to keep up with my drafted players. It would be easy for me to find other things to do with my time, if I didn’t care for the sport at all.
Here at UALR, we miss out on having a real gridiron team to care about and cheer on, but I have an idea of how we can fill the void this football season.
I propose we start our own fantasy league here on campus, pitting every organization against the other. Brother versus brother, man versus woman, Oprah versus Stedman, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Wait, what?
There would be no money involved, but the champs can walk around with their heads held high, while the last place team has to re-enact the Manning brothers’ video. (Really, you have to see it.) Maybe we can get the winner a picture in our beloved newspaper. The sports section is already on the back pages. I think I have a corner free…
You know what? On second thought, I don’t want to compete in a fantasy league this year. I want to watch the games because I like the sport, not to keep up with stats – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Hey, there’s a game starting right now! Wait, whose idea was it to trade Faith Hill in for Carrie Underwood? Was she not putting up good enough stats? Her “Passer Rating” is what? Oh well. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, it could have been Miley Cyrus.
Now, are you ready for some football? What do you mean they fired him too? Maybe they’ll let Peyton and Eli sing it.