A Game of Throws

Fantasy football and the crazed man it makes you become.

By Phil Robibero

I’m not what you would call a competitive guy, but then again I’m the kind of person who lives in selective denial.  When I win, I revel in it.  When I lose, I pretend I don’t care.  When it comes to sports, I was in denial most of the time.  I blame it on my own inability to handle anything that requires dexterity or motor skills.  I was the George Michael of high school sports.  Throw something at me and my mind will make damn sure that every part of my body except my hands will be at the receiving end.  Not surprisingly, my own inadequacies as a sports athlete translated into my apathy towards professional sports.

Granted, I would humor myself into riding certain waves of sports fever.  World Cup?  Go America!  Olympics?  Sure, why the hell not.  The Superbowl?  Whatever, as long as there’s beer there.  It’s fun while it lasts, but I always felt like an idiot doing it in hindsight.  Why?  Having to be among the sports fanatics.  From my vantage point football fanatics are the worst.  It’s the singular reason why I refuse to get into football.  Overhearing two bros talk about points, stats, and ratios makes you think they were planning on advancing the human race by building a god damn spaceship.  What they were talking about is much more sinister.

If a football fanatic seeking to rid himself of his extremism asks a doctor for help, a doctor would probably tell him to kick his fantasy football habit.  This is the fuel that fires up the fanatic.  This side of D&D, no other game has produced so many role-players.  The game essentially tasks you to become a football coach, who picks up a roaster of football players whose stats are updated in the real-world.  You play other people be it friends or colleagues week to week, with your fantasy team until the end of the regular football season.  If this sounds awesome to you, you probably play already.  If it doesn’t.  Well, I used to be like you until one of my friends introduced it to me like a shot of heroin and since then I could not kick the habit.

This has been my first season playing fantasy football and honestly, I love it.  I have yet to watch a game, but every Sunday my eyes are glued to my cell phone to watch my fantasy points go up.  What motivates me isn’t my team or the game of football, it’s simply to beat my friends.  It’s come to a point where the trash talking between us has elevated beyond tongue-and-cheek.  Fantasy football made us into these cruel human beings intent on embarrassing the hell out of each other.  Two weeks ago a friend and I put a bet on our head-to-head.  The wager was our respective eye brows.  The winner was allowed to shave one eye brow off the loser.  Doesn’t sound so bad to you?  Well, go to a mirror and place your thumb over your left eye brow.  I bet you look like that abused doll head from Toy Story.

Like any sensible human being, I like having a social life and the ability to have two eye brows, so prior to the games I was a nervous wreck.  I was close to taking the cowards way out and calling the whole thing off, but no.  I was strong and intent on winning.  Game day came and went and let’s just say, three weeks later, someone owes me a goddamn eyebrow.  The win was exhilarating, but the resulting trash talking was pure bliss.

So, yeah.  I’m one of those fanatics now, I guess.  It certainly shows how much of a self-centered coach I would be.  “Drew Brees’s arm was just severed off?  Tell him, he’s going on the damn field and if he doesn’t match ESPN’s fantasy predictions, HE’S OFF MY TEAM AND I’M KEEPING THE ARM!”  But since my ambitions are less lofty, I will have to make do with not caring for the welfare of my friends and make sure they burn in flames with the rest of their fantasy team.  So next time you’re in a bar and overhear some cretin talk about Eric Decker’s game five projections, well that’s probably me.  Just remember I used to be like you once.


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