4 Ways Fantasy Football Makes You Miserable
Fantasy football taps into my latent need to compete and satisfies my inherent laziness at the same time. It scratches the same itch as golf, which I've written about before. Every year I can potentially be crowned a champion for doing what amounts to procrastinating and shifting names up and down a list. There are no parades for the winner. No ticker tape. No multi-million-dollar contracts or sponsorship deals -- just the pride of being able to tell my friends that I was better than them at screaming at my TV until my players were willed into excellence by the reverberations of my rage.
This $800 million a year competition-by-proxy industry (that loses American businesses an estimated $6.5 billion to procrastination) has a supremely stupid dark side, and it starts with the very foundation of every fantasy team. No, not the players on the roster, it's ...
Wildly Offensive Team Names
Fantasy football team names usually take one of two forms: a silly, pun-based name involving a player on the team, or a vile string of words that are hardly associated with the game of football. The league I've played in for the past four years gets its name from a 2009 news story about a lady who had her face ripped off by a chimp. This set the standard for team names, which only degraded from there. They range from immature to horribly offensive to in need of ACLU intervention. That's what happens when you lock a bunch of idiots in a digital room that no one else can access.
It's 4chan for jocks.
Like running over a pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto, vile team names are guilt-free because the whole thing never feels too connected to reality, even if the winners and losers are determined by real-life events. Yet, even in a pocket universe where no one bats an eye at the most disgusting, depraved name ever conceived, there is something somehow even more offensive: when an owner shifts to the other end of the name spectrum and names their team after a serious real-world cause. Last year I was in a league where one of the team names was "Justice4Trayvon." An acquaintance of mine played in a league that had a team named "BostonStrong" in remembrance of the Boston marathon bombing.
Zimmerman and O.J. are killing it in my Murderers Who Got Away With It fantasy league.
Take whatever cause you believe in most, then open your toilet bowl and shout that cause into the shit-flaked water loud enough to ripple the surface. Flush if you'd like. By doing that, you've just made as much of an impact on the world as you would by naming your fantasy football team after a cause you support. Fantasy football is supposed to be a fun distraction. Unless you're George Zimmerman, who the fuck would want to beat a team named Justice4Trayvon? Do you want to crush the strength and healing power of Boston with the might of your fake football team? The frivolous misuse of the cause is insulting to the cause. More than that, it's also a huge bummer. Can't wait to see how thoroughly I crush the team named in remembrance of a deadly bombing that filled us with an all-too-familiar sense of dread and brought us to a nationwide standstill. Yeah, can't wait to play that fucker. It's gonna be a blast.
If you have one of these self-righteous team names, fantasy leagues make it easy to change your pompous name with a few clicks. Use that option. Just change your name to "Fifty Yard Cunt," and we'll all go back to not feeling so insulted.
Every aspect of fantasy football is filled with bad decisions like this. But when it comes to the actual act of making bad decisions, fantasy football has the best possible version of it, because ...
You Get to See Your Bad Decisions Bite You in the Ass Quickly
So much of life is wait-and-see. You wait nine months and hope your baby looks like you and not your neighbor. Will your overpriced college education payoff big, or will you end up jigsawing your diploma and leaving the pieces as calling cards at crime scenes, tormenting detectives until you complete your murder masterpiece by leaving the scrap with your name on the final body? Only time will tell. A lot of time. This is where fantasy football excels. You get to see the direct result of your terrible decisions quickly. Make a bad roster move on Tuesday, see your stupidity come to fruition as early as Thursday.
Fantasy football hits fast-forward on everything you do poorly. Have you ever made a bad choice in life and wished you could skip passed the wait-and-see part and straight to the moment you realize you suck? Well, fantasy football would like to talk to you about an exciting opportunity that could expedite the travel time between hope and despair! All you need to do to apply is dedicate too much of your time to poring over player stats and put too much faith in the barely-more-knowledgeable-than-you opinions of fantasy football "experts," who are right there with stock market traders in terms of professions fueled by speculative bullshit.
And stock market traders are playing fantasy football with your money.
You get to see yourself suck so quickly you'd think fantasy football was optimized and rigorously tested by NASA engineers to be a the world's most efficient failure simulator. Within days you'll go from being able to so vividly imagine yourself holding the championship trophy that you can almost smell the cheap plastic to inventing new and exciting slurs to hurl at your shitty team, because there is no doubt that at some point ...
You Will Hate Your Team With a Passion
There's catharsis in loathing. When your fantasy football roster is shitting itself uncontrollably, missing the bed pan by wide margins, the only response that feels right is verbalizing your anger over the incompetence of the pack of assholes you put together and launching it toward a screen. Fantasy team owners hanging around at the bottom of their league's standings -- as I am this year so far -- understand this flaw in human nature that fantasy football pulls out of us like Dumbledore pulling thin wisps of memory out of his head. The only thing as good as or better than watching your team dominate on a Sunday is, conversely, getting to scream obscenities at their names on your computer screen when they are being dominated.
It feels good to hate. Suddenly, all the malice and spite in the world that we turn our eyes away from in shame when we see it on the news makes sense. Because, yes, of course -- why didn't I see it earlier? Fuck those guys! They're all pieces of shit. Fantasy football is the Two Minutes Hate from Nineteen Eighty-Four, unbrokenly stretched Thursday to the following Monday of a given week.
Like this, but in a Buffalo Wild Wings.
It's such a pathetic exercise that some team owners may never admit that they're really yelling at themselves. But, hey -- it's fantasy football. Enjoy the fantasy no matter what form it takes, even if that form is deflecting your hatred of yourself onto the players on your roster. If you hate them, you can sleep tight knowing the feeling is mutual, because ...
The Players on Your Roster Hate You, Too
NFL players hate fantasy football. It's hard to blame them. Fantasy football adds another layer of pressure to their weekly performances. Now winning games for their team, their city, and for the sake of their own careers isn't enough -- they have to be the most dominate player at their position every week to satisfy some dipshit fantasy owner with a Twitter account and an always-on caps lock button.
Guys like this goofy prick, who are basically a walking caps lock button.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster strained a hamstring in the 2011-2012 season, so fantasy owners gave him shit for not playing. Foster tweeted this in response: "4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick." Same goes for Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, who thinks fantasy football is a "headache," and former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, whose Twitter page was flooded with angry tweets from sociopath fantasy owners after he left a game with a hip injury. Peterson is a child abuser and Rice is a woman beater, so I'm sure the tweets they're getting right now are a tad harsher in tone. They're doing very well for me in my Deplorable Scumbags fantasy league.
I stole that line from myself.
A full, tangible connection to the players on your roaster is never established. I may like and value some more than others, but ultimately they're all just names that can be swapped out for other names. Sometimes they're not even names, just stat lines. Fantasy owners dehumanize players and reduce them to numbers and then demand that the numbers be impressive every week. If that doesn't happen, well, we've already stripped the players of their humanity, so why not take to Twitter and let them know how personally disappointed we are in them by chipping away at their psyche one caps-locked letter at a time. Fantasy football takes all the terrible personality traits the Internet pulls out of people and turns them into a competition to add a nuke to the fire.
All that being said, you should totally start playing fantasy football. It's super fun!
Luis is currently setting his lineup in his all-kickers league. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more from Luis, check out 8 Crazy Sports Traditions That Got Out of Control and The 5 Most Utterly Insane Games You Can Play at Work.
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