November 25, 2009
Last weekend, I had plenty of time to think about everything in my life for which I am thankful. My family topped the list, as they do every year, followed by my job, friends and the fact that the Atlanta Braves are no longer running and hiding at the idea of spending a couple million dollars to improve the team (welcome to Atlanta, Billy Wagner!).
But for everything that I appreciate in my life, there is one thing that I am definitely not thankful for: fantasy football. Only, I didn’t realize it until last weekend. You see, my teammate and I chose St. Louis running back Steven Jackson in our draft several months ago and have been experimenting with additional RBs ever since. For week 12, we planned to start Jackson (obviously) and Marshawn Lynch. But due either to a computer malfunction or sheer stupidity on my part, we started Lynch and – Jason Snelling.
By the time either my partner or myself realized the error, it was too late. Jackson sat on our bench, and I quickly gave up on our chances of pulling out a victory for the week. And then something amazing happened. I realized that, for the first time all season, I was finally going to enjoy a week of football. I didn’t need to cheer against my beloved Falcons just because my opponent was starting Tony Gonzalez and Matt Ryan. I didn’t have to watch the Dolphins play the Bills, or the Chargers play the Chiefs, or any other game I wouldn’t normally care about just because someone on my fantasy team was playing.
It may have taken a guaranteed loss (and possibly the end of my team’s run at the $300 prize), but I finally became thankful for regular old football again this past weekend.
More than 19 million people play fantasy football every year in the US and Canada, according to NBCSports.com, and a study by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association concluded that 55 percent of people who engage in fantasy sports spend more time watching sports on television than they did before joining a fantasy league. But are these 19 million people able to truly appreciate the beauty of the games they now obsess over week in and week out?
I am by no means advocating throwing a fantasy game in order to rediscover what made fantasy sports appealing to begin with – my competitive spirit is far too intense to give (or heed) that advice. But if, one day, you wake up and realize that your fantasy team is down for the count, keep your head up. This could be the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy a good weekend of football without diving for your computer or phone every five minutes, to marvel at Drew Brees’ accuracy or the intensity Jared Allen’s hits. I was able to enjoy a weekend with my family and friends without the distraction of my fantasy team – and for that, I am thankful.