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Fantasy Football: Whose Fantasy Was This?

Calum Hayes |
December 21, 2012 | 3:02 p.m. PST


Fantasy Football has lost its appeal. (Daniel X. O'Neil, Creative Commons)
Fantasy Football has lost its appeal. (Daniel X. O'Neil, Creative Commons)

I have been playing fantasy football with the same group of friends for the past six years.

While six years may not sound like much, it seems longer when you consider that at the beginning of that time, I was still adjusting to having underarm hair and people not regularly confusing me for my mother on the phone.

Fantasy football used to be fun. It was a good way to talk trash to high school buddies, and transitioned into something that has kept me connected with those friends as we went off to different universities. Fantasy football has been said to have raised the football IQ of many in this country. It has helped to drive the popularity of the NFL with women, a previously untapped fan base. Fantasy football has done many good things for both the professional league it tries to emulate and for those who play it. It has been a positive force in the lives of many people on a week-to-week basis, but this year, I have been forced to admit, it is time for it to go - it is time for it to no longer be a part of my life.

Fantasy football used to just be a source of fun. Something that made you feel more involved, like your favorite players really mattered in your life. Something where people accepted they were fantasy football players, not owners. It has evolved into something that has a downside much larger than the fun it engenders.

This past week, the New England Patriots played the San Francisco 49'ers. Over the course of the game, I received countless fantasy related texts from friends. In all cases, the person I received the text message from came across as irrational. Fantasy football may very well have raised the IQ of football fans, but unfortunately for those who truly love the game of football, you can lead a fantasy player to water but you can't make him drink. That supposed rise in IQ is nullified on a weekly basis by a selfish desire to see players in their own lineup get the ball every time, and those in their opponent's fail at their jobs and potentially end up injured.

Fantasy football may have started out as a way for die-hard fans to enjoy the game and spend time with friends, but it has evolved into a platform for every man-Jack to showcase just how selfish we truly appear to be as a nation. While the majority of fans are respectful of players and showcase that age-old value of sportsmanship our Pop-Warner coaches taught us, those few who step over the line tarnish the whole.

The "comments" section may be the worst thing ever invented in this country, but the ability of fantasy owners to tweet at "their" players is a close second. Every week I read stories of fantasy "owners" sending death threats to players who did not perform to expectations. Every week I see tweets to athletes telling them how useless they are, that they should be ashamed of and embarrassed by themselves, all because some "owner" lost his or her weekly matchup. Every week I see tweets to the men who work for ESPN and SI in the fantasy department telling them they don't deserve to be employed, simply because they made one bad prediction (I would hate to see the things they must say to weathermen).

Fantasy used to be fun because it was fictional. It was something you did for your own lighthearted enjoyment, not because you enjoyed feeling some possession of other human beings. It was a way to increase your passion for your favorite players while bringing you together with others. Death threats, harsh words, wishing unemployment and shame on others...What kind of a fantasy is that?

This will be my final season of fantasy football. Over the past six seasons of having a team, I have made the playoffs five times. This is in no way meant to make myself look better, it is to show I am not quitting because I am tired of losing. I am quitting for the reasons above because I won't be a part of any fantasy that involves shaming someone and wishing harm upon them. Because my definition of a fantasy doesn't involve being too much of a ninny to put your name next to a comment telling someone they don't deserve to have a job.

The Cleveland Browns have a 29-year-old rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden. I named my team after him this season. That has always been one of my favorite parts of fantasy football. Seeing what creative, borderline inappropriate names my friends come up with for their teams every year (and doing the same myself). The final team name I will have as a fantasy football player is The Garden of Weeden.

I am retiring from fantasy football. Whether I am leaving of my own accord or whether it is ejecting me, I remain unsure. But one thing I am sure of, for myself and The Garden of Weeden: when it comes to fantasy football, this is my exodus.


Reach Contributor Calum Hayes here; follow him here.



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