I am not caught up on Scandal or a myriad of other things (sorry, reading for pleasure). I have been too busy with The X Factor UK and doing boatloads of schoolwork. One thing that has been constant in my life since April is fantasy sports. My friend at work asked me join this spring, and honestly, I waffled. I love The League but I hate childish competition. I also hate sports fans, sexism, and the huge multibillion dollar sports industry. Ultimately, the promise of fun times and gentle teasing won me over.
I finished 5th in my fantasy baseball league this year and currently I’m 3-3 in my football league. I watch a lot of baseball (fingers crossed for the Dodgers and the bearded Red Sox in the World Series) and very little football but I have learned a few things over the past six months.
1. Friendship & fun are #1
I adore the folks I play fantasy sports with–they’re faculty members from my office–and I see this as an opportunity to spend time with them, talk about something that isn’t work, and learn about the sports. We had happy hours and watched the All Star Game together. We talked shit on Twitter and never took things too seriously. Developing friendships around sports is a real thing! Who knew? All this time I thought you could only make friends after arguing about who is the greatest contestant ever on America’s Next Top Model (Analeigh Tipton, duh, because she was in Damsels in Distress) or which Magnetic Fields record is best (Charm of the Highway Strip).
2. Sports are pretty cool
I don’t watch football but since I have three Eagles on my team, I will sometimes put on a game and have been able to follow along with the game and how my points are affected. It’s really interesting. When you have horses in the race, you are more likely to be engaged. I liked baseball before this year, mostly because it is so awesome to get drunk and yell at the opposing team in public. Once I learned more about the sport I would tune in when my pitchers were starting. Then I became attached to The Nationals (we are already Phillies fans and have seen them play all over) and turned on our local affiliate every night to see the games. Baseball strategy is so rad and it wasn’t something I picked up on as a casual observer.
3. One league might not be enough
I am angling to start an all-female fantasy baseball league next year–there were only 3 women playing in my baseball league (out of 12) and I’m the only woman in my football league (my team name is Token Female). According to this article, only 20% of fantasy sports players are women. I would love to get more ladies into baseball and have them become passionate about the designated hitter, bearded weirdos and hating the Yankees.
4. It is a lot of work
I had to set my lineup for baseball every day. I read a site daily that listed each team’s lineup and took out people that weren’t playing. I analyzed my players’ habits (ie, cannot hit against left handers; pitches better in home stadium) and read copious amounts of fantasy news online. I’m doing the same with football, but I don’t like the sport as much and I still don’t “get it.” Since I’m in a head to head league and far fewer games are played per year, I set my lineup once a week and spend the rest of my time reading about matchups and players.
5. Thank goodness for the Internet
One of the people in my baseball league (who I beat!!) has been playing fantasy baseball for years. When he waited tables, he and his friends would compile stats by hand in the backroom after their shift. Now, ESPN, Yahoo, NFL.com and other places do that for you. I get stats and fantasy news delivered to my inbox. The Internet is a vast and wonderful place and it does math for you.