Friday, September 9, 2011

MY YEAR OF FANTASY SPORTS: A TALE OF BOREDOM

Well, it's Thrusday Night, and the NFL season just had their first regular season game. The Packers beat 42-34 on a last second goal line stance. I'm going to make a prediction, that the NFL this year, will be, a big ratings winner. Okay, not much of a prediction, but sports is certainly entertainment, and it's also television. That's my justification for going outside the typical parameters of my blog this one time, but I also wanted to talk about an entertainment form that's just as popular as the NFL, and may possibly more popular. Fantasy Sports, particular Fantasy Football. It's been around longer than people think, dating back to Harvard in the early 1960s, but it's gotten particularly popular in the internet age. There's even a popular TV sitcom, "The League," which airs of FX that's based around participants in a fantasy football league. While it's not as primary an activity as it used to play in my life, I am a sports fan. It's the most instant drama that can be possibly be created. Two teams, one winner, lot of things can happen. I like to use the parallel that each sporting event is essentially like a book, some are full of excitement, and twists and turns, and you won't find out how it's going to end until the last page, or in sports, second. Othertimes, the ending is given away is the first five few pages or so, and then the book kinda drags slowly, boring, lot of desciption, not a lot of action, the outcome already foreseen. Pick up a book, or watch a game, you're not quite sure what you're gonna get. But, last year, I finally decided to partake in fantasy football. I played in three leagues, one I slept through the draft, another everybody slept through the draft except me, and the third was about half-awake, half asleep. Frankly, I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. Fantasy sports were everywhere. People who I knew didn't even particularly like football seem to be playing it. The really obsessed ones couldn't stop talking about it. I frankly got a little of tired of people coming up to me, saying that had a sports question, and the question was, something like, "Who do you like better this week, Player X against Team A, or Player Y against Team B?" It didn't make a whole lotta sense to me. I've always been a long-suffering Philadelphia Sports Fan, and frankly, I cared about my teams, and not much else. It didn't matter to me who was on the other team, and how well they played, as long as Philly won the game, and preferably, by beating the shit out of them. (Which is, probably the nicest language I seem to use when watching an Eagles game, and that's when my team's winning.) I watched the other games and teams, sometimes I fell asleep, but I thought this fantasy fad was going to go away soon. I think I might said the same thing about rap music back in '93. Obviously, on both occasions, I was wrong. So, finally, I gave in and tried it, starting a year ago with the three aforementioned fantasy football teams. I also am currently in the middle of two fantasy baseball leagues, all of them are on ESPN.com. I picked that one, 'cause of it's obvious respectability in the sports world, and also 'cause it was free. This was really just an experiment; I had no real intention of making this a life's hobby. It of course became a daily hobby, where I would have to keep an eye on every little detail involving players, starting lineups, injuries, match-ups, free agency, roster changes, basically, I had become a GM, and I could see a certain appeal of that. I always loved those franchise modes they have on sports video games, which I do still play occasionally. It's been a here of playing fantasy, and on some days, it has a certain appeal, but overall, I must say, I find it boring. BORING. Boring, Boring, Boring. A total yawn, that  basically forces me to go and check in on a website every single day just to see how a few players, a few I never even heard of, did that day or that week, and make appropriate clicks of a mouse, and boom, I have a change. It takes, at most, about five of my time a day, if my computer working well that day. When it's not, then it becomes annoying. It becomes an extra hassle I have to deal with everyday, instead of something that might be relatively fun. In case you're thinking I'm just a sore loser, you're wrong. In the three football leagues I played in last year, I won two of them, and finished 3rd in the other, making the playoffs in each. In the baseball leagues, one I gave up one, admittedly because the scoring system was too annoying (It was one that was based on our statistical positions in team rankings, instead of a points system, and frankly I couldn't figure out how to manuever it properly), but the other I finished 16-4 in the regular season, 2nd in the league, and I'm winning my playoff game currently by about 250 points, which if I win, I'll be in the Championship game. Generally speaking, I don't think its a hard game to play, with a few exceptions involving rules and scoring, if you have a good knowledge of sports, it's not that hard (Especially since, odds are, most of your opponents will probably not be that knowledgable. Plus, most websites have many expert predictions and projections to help you out. It's almost overkill in fact. It's too simple, and I don't really find much joy out of winning. I like to win games, and when I play them, I play all out. I use as many roster moves as I can, I try to make strategic trades, I even have uniforms and logos and everything. (All my teams were named the "Las Vegas Midnight Green," after Vegas, of course, 'cause it's where I'm from, and it grabs peoples' attention, and Midnight Green, is my favorite color. The main color my Philadelphia Eagles wear, it's the darkest shade of green there is, before green becomes black). I expected not to like it for many of the reasons fantasy sports skeptic list, cheering for players and not teams, and not caring about the drama of the actual game, and caring about such things as how a kicker did that week, or something like that. That stuff didn't bother me, but frankly, my main problem was, I just didn't find it interesting enough to keep playing. After football, I tried fantasy baseball, that was kind of interesting, more elaborate, but still, click, click, click, and click, submit, and I'm done. And now I have to do it, ev-ver-y-day. I don't begrudge anybody who likes fantasy sports, it's just not for me. Not really. It's like, any other game. Say you play poker a lot. You might like it a lot, but once in a while, you might want to play chess. Or checkers, or Scrabble, or Gin, of whatever. Fantasy sports to me is a whatever game. I could see playing it occasionally, maybe an office pool or something, but it's not something I like spending all my time devoted to? No I finally came to that decision this week, when I joined a fantasy football league, and then slept through the draft again. I asked for a trade to get a QB, 'cause I only had one. Then I thought, I better join another league, so I can play the draft again (I do like the draft part), but then I thought, well, obviously I don't care enough about this. So, I'm debating now to see whether or not my trade got accepted, but frankly, by the end of the month, I'll be done with the baseball league I'm in, and after that, I doubt I'll go on ESPN.com for awhile. I could always just turn on the radio for twenty minutes and hear anything important in sports anyway. I am surprised though, that for something with such rapid popularity and fandom, that frankly it isn't more fun. I only wish I could get out of the football league I joined and slept through this year, most fantasy leagues don't have that option. The only other thing is that I worry about some of the more rabid fans. This is a form of gaming, and living in Vegas all my life, I do know some of signs of gambling addiction, and a lot of the people I've met who are avid fantasy players also tend to make more bets at sportsbook than most. Some don't, so maybe for them, this is a nice safe avenue to appeal to that tendency without the possibility of betting actual money. For the others, I know how damn near impossible it is to win a bet against a line, much less five or ten bets a week, and I wonder how much fantasy sports plays into gaming addiction. But, other than that, once this is posted, I doubt I'll give much more thought to fantasy sports from here on out.
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