"You play to win the game!" screamed Herm Edwards at a postgame press conference. Coach Edwards was speaking about the NFL, of course, but in this oft-repeated quote, he could just as easily have been speaking about fantasy sports.
Friendship is great. So is competition. Camaraderie, smack talk, league traditions -- all fun and wonderful. But at the end of it, you play. To win. The game.
But sometimes, in fantasy, it's more important to not lose than to win. Because of all the things that bring leagues together, of all the funniest, most outrageous, most talked about traditions, it's punishments for losing that are the most memorable.
While writing my book Fantasy Life, I heard of every imaginable punishment. I heard of leagues where the loser has to wear nothing but a Speedo, dress up as a woman, dress up as a clown, get waxed, get shaved, and swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon while getting slapped in the face by a fish. You heard me. Slapped in the face by a fish.
And that one didn't even make the list.
10The Pasta League
The DJ and Pasta League out of Brooklyn is a seven-year-old keeper league that harks back to vaudeville for its last-place loser. As "Raffa the Gaffa" explains, "Every year before the draft the last-place team will stand for one minute and all the league members launch tomatoes at him."
More than 200 pounds of tomatoes are thrown at the loser, and incidentally, for you kids out there thinking of doing this, Raffa offers this helpful hint: "Microwave the tomatoes so they soften up a little, bringing the grime level to a 10."
9The Public Shaming
In their league, Scott LoMurray and his best friend Aaron Doverspike have weekly head-to-head bets where the loser has to do some pretty terrible things, including getting a leg wax and sitting in the back of a pickup truck as it goes through a car wash wearing only a Speedo, a swim cap, and goggles. But my favorite punishment of theirs involves putting on a helmet and Rollerblades and standing on a busy corner with a sign that reads "I Suck at Fantasy Football."