“Are you talking about LeBron James??? He's on my team!!!!”
Fantasy sports is a life-consuming addiction to tracking the stats of athletes or other people on steroids. Those tracked come in all shapes and sizes, from NASCAR to curling. Those doing the tracking come in only one configuration: nerd.
Nature of the game
As if 30 teams in every sport's major or Premier league weren't enough, the fantasy sports player assumes there were one more team. And that he owned it. As the usual player can barely pay his share of the month's rent, it is clear why this pastime uses the word "fantasy."
The player's imagined role as the owner lets him dictate player negotiations and trades. He does things real owners don't do, because they have real money on the line and do not want to drive the value of their franchise to zero. The fantasy player can indulge whims, such as assembling a team of only white people, unceremoniously firing athletes who test positive for marijuana or go to an Obama rally, and assembling a team of athletes who have cuckolded one another, secure in the knowledge that their performance will be exactly what it is in the real world, and wife-stealing and personality issues will never get in the way.
The fantasy player is blissfully free of other real-world issues:
- Will someone sue me if I do that?
- What if athletes come to realize that I am a bastard to work for?
- Can someone please tactfully tell the Breast Cancer Awareness people to piss off?
- Would anyone pay real money to come to a game at a club where a douche like me is the owner?
- Will they keep paying after five losing seasons?
How to play
Although the typical fantasy player is essentially playing with himself, and although that is nothing new for the typical fantasy player, the only way to measure a fantasy player is for him to join a league. That is, this is the only way for a player to win or lose; and, having an overabundance of testosterone, for want of expending any of it for its designated purpose, it is all about winning and losing.
The first step for a fantasy player is to assemble his fantasy team. In the real world, the owner and his many lackeys manipulate a dumb inner-city kid with wads of cash he has no experience taking care of, perks such as cars and team-paid flights back home, and overt deception. In the fantasy league, players simply draft names off real-world teams and just assume they will all sign and there is no budget. (That would be a drag.)
The only benefit of fantasy sports--that it makes you study players and could help you enjoy the real sport--is ruined by the fact that most of those players are on the other coast and only come to your city once a year. So you can't discuss your new knowledge with anyone. But, if you were good at conversation, you wouldn't be--naw, forget it.
Again, these are alpha males who have to prove their dominance over their friends. So, me having selected Team A, and you having selected Team B, the fun simply doesn't begin until we determine who wins in a game between Team A and Team B, and which of us gets to pwn the other in front of his girlfriend, as though that were going to change whom she goes home with tonight.
How do we have A play against B, after conceding that neither exists? Depending on the league, we do one of the following:
- We get the stats from last week's games, find out what "our" players did for real, assume they would perform the same for an asshole boss, and run the results through a complicated formula (which the loser is allowed to claim is unfair), to decide who would have won.
- We send away for a Strat-O-Matic update, based on what everyone did last year, and use dice to play simulated games, at someone's house while all the wives go out shopping and compare notes on divorce law.
In either case, we spend most evenings on the phone to other "owners," scheming and strategizing, while the Missus wonders why we didn't show up for Junior's soccer championship. And as phony as it is when a real team owner shouts and rages when the star receiver drops a pass, posturing at his employee's expense, it's worse when a nerd does the same thing in a room full of other nerds because a nonexistent player dropped a pass. In fact, it couldn't be worse, except possibly spending the evening typing articles for a hoax encyclopedia.
On second thought, it could be worse. That's when you send away for business cards and start writing to one another on your "team's" letterhead. Yikes!
Psychiatry is of no use to the committed (pardon the expression) fantasy sports player. Female shrinks don't understand. Male ones will just want to join your league.