Fantasy football has quickly become my nemesis, my archrival, the thief of my joy and the bane of my existence. It’s not the football itself as I’ve found myself quite entertained at a game not to mention an admirer of the athletic prowess shown as the ball is tossed about. No, what I’m talking about is the ridiculous amount of strategizing throughout the day and night that has me waking in my sleep thinking about the rounds and the spreads and the stats and the overall likelihood that more people will care about their team than they will about my birthday. It’s September 20th people. How about we talk about that? Not one single person has inquired about my Wish List. Hello. I’m turning 39 and there is a lot of prep work to be done for the inevitable year of the forty, which, God willing, this extensive and relentless fantasy football chatter will allow me to see before it suffocates me in some makeshift bleachers in someone’s living room decorated for “game day.”
I feel better. Does that make me a bad person? Knowing that so many folks look forward to this time of year to get together and throw back some beers as they strategize like men taking the field to battle to the death and I don’t care? Fantasy, schmantasy. Football, schmootball. Stats, schmats. You get the idea.
Now, before you nickname me something awful or label me as un-American, please know that I grew up in a family that loved the sport. My father had season tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles for years. He and my brother would bundle up and head out to the games returning with no voice and normally, although not always, a look of profound disappointment. It was a Sunday ritual and on the rare occasion when I attended the game in my brother’s absence – only if he was on the edge of death due to the flu or some contagious pox – I loved it. It was spirited and electric. The energy would grab you in the parking lot and infiltrate every cell, every hair, as you made your way through the crowd to your seat where you would carry on and applaud until your hands were raw. My father, a quiet, gentle soul, who I have rarely ever heard curse, screamed as if he was trying to be heard above the engine of a 737. I would marvel at how intense it got for him. He watched every moment. His brain, I just knew, was evaluating every play ten seconds before it happened. He was, and still is, the definition of a true sports fan. He loves the game. He loves rooting for the home team. I still remember what he said to me the day I found out he gave up his season tickets. “Mairs, it’s not about the team anymore or sportsmanship. It’s about the money. I miss the team.”
Nowadays, the games are even more rowdy. You can bring in a purse, you can’t. You can drink the entire time, you can’t. You can tailgate in the parking lot, you can’t. I think, sadly, it’s a sign of the times that the level of trust when you bring a number of folks together who are charged and ready for a good time is below low. Then again, I haven’t been to a game in a few years so admittedly I may not know entirely of what I speak.
What I do know is that every Sunday, whether it’s his home team or not, you’ll find my Dad in front of the TV, watching, coaching and trying to will men to do what he feels is best. Sometimes I can’t even get his attention during a commercial break he’s so caught up. I let that slide though as I’m the same way when I watch Law and Order. Oh Jack McCoy. That man has filled more of my free time than shopping, showering and pinning combined. And Benjamin Bratt is in my laminated list hall of fame.
Speaking of lists….
In an effort to stop my ears from the bleeding that was occurring as they were inundated with fantasy football mumbo jumbo, I began to make a list. It required focus, which was healthy for me as I stopped fantasizing about spiking someone’s teeth in the parking lot of whatever building housed discussions regarding “the draft.” Did I have anything in my life that I felt as enthusiastic about as an imaginary team of men in tight pants?
Is that a trick question?
Sure, I have things that grab my enthusiasm by the collar like Benjamin Bratt manhandling a perp, but, once I started to really think about it, I realized that maybe I needed some kind of fantasy football thing all my own. It’s no secret that I’ve been searching over the past couple of years. As my life has been redefined by change, my health, my home, my marriage, I’ve felt that I’ve been on the precipice of something quite interesting. At first, I was overwhelmed by what was going on and struggled with wanting to dig my heels in where they were and stay exactly where I stood. Nowadays though, I realize, little by little, what’s really going on is that I’m being given a gift. I’m getting the chance to finally use my own voice to build my own life. It’s scary. I feel like there are days when all I do is teeter-totter above the ground on a wire that seems whisper thin. And then there are those days when I feel something pull me close, steadying my feet and the feeling in the pit of my stomach, and as I lean in to listen to what it’s trying to tell me, sure that it will be wise beyond measure, it says, “Fantasy football is the devil.”
I KNEW IT!
Come on, you laughed, right?
Anyway, it was an interesting exercise to try and come up with things in my life that I would dedicate as much passion and time to as some of the people around me are dedicating to their fantasy football teams. As such, I’m still in the process of creating it so you won’t be introduced to it now. Soon though, I’ll make the big reveal. Perhaps at my birthday party.
Why weren’t you invited?
Well, aren’t you the one planning it? Come on, you should be all over that by now. The tulips you have to fly in from Holland are going to take a least a week to get here and storing them will be tricky. I hope you know what you’re doing.
In the meantime, to create a diversion so as not to fluster me about the florals that are a must for my celebration, tell me, what do you love? What do you dedicate your time to? And is it, she shuddered, fantasy football?