Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fantasy Sports Have Crushed My Soul

I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a nerd/geek/hermit/hermit crab/social outcast, EXCEPT when it comes to fantasy sports. If you happened to mention fantasy sports with your last, dying breath, I would probably try to resuscitate you, just so we could talk about them together for a couple of hours.

Fantasy sports, in a word, are insane. Let me explain. Suppose you had been cryogenically frozen fifty years ago, and I just so happened to stumble across your body and thawed you out. Then, before asking me about the strange gizmo I communicate with, or the vehicle I drive you around in, or whatever "twerking" and "swag" are (we'll cover why our society is crumbling in a later blog post), you instead ask me, "Paul, could you please explain to me what fantasy sports are?" Here's how I would enlighten you:
Don't fret, my friend! I'm here to teach you about fantasy!

"Well, fantasy sports are a way for people of all shapes, sizes, smells, creeds, colors, races, genders, sexual orientations, political parties, or One Direction member preferences, to construct their own hypothetical professional sports teams to compete with. To begin this venture, you must gather a number of other individuals who share this same desire to assemble such a team. Surprisingly, these individuals don't have to be your friends, or even people you've ever even met before. In fact, these people can be complete strangers who live on the other side of the world (don't ask about what the Internet is, I don't have time to explain it to you).

"Once you've assembled this group of psychopaths, you shall peruse a list containing the names and statistics of every single player in whichever sport you have chosen (choices include football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, stock car racing). When the time is right, every member will participate in a drafting of these players, during which you may choose the players who will be on your imaginary sports team. Once your team has been fully assembled, you will then compete against one team every week. 

"Now, the players you are picking are actual, real-life athletes, and they will be a part of your mythical team. The stats that they accumulate will benefit your team, and will be a detriment to your opponent. Their performance in games will directly affect your team, earning you valuable fantasy "points." However, you will most likely never meet, talk to, or interact with the players whom you are selecting. Whomever you choose to be on your team will be contributing to your weekly happiness/sadness, yet they will have no idea whatsoever, and your existence is never in their conscious mind.

"But their existence is in yours. There may be times when fantasy sports seem to dominate your life. You may find yourself sitting at home on Sundays, watching football all day, ignoring your family, friends and responsibilities, and checking your fantasy football team every few seconds or so. Every week, you put your pride and ego on the line, hoping to experience the satisfyingly sweet, sweet taste of victory. At the end of your particular fantasy sports season, a champion will be crowned. Hopefully, you don't end up playing with these psychopaths."

Pure and utter madness, I know. By this point, you would have your mind blown, and you would probably question my sanity. After showing you the Miley Cyrus VMA's video, you'll most likely ask me to freeze you again, and I won't blame you. 

The craziest thing about all of this is fantasy sports are also really, really fun! There's nothing quite like getting a couple of your buddies together and competing against one another, while also incorporating sports and your favorite athletes. The thrill of victory is still inexplicably strong, despite the apparent meaninglessness behind it all. 

And yet, they mean everything (kind of). Which leads me to the reason why fantasy sports have, in fact, crushed my soul. At the moment, I'm the commissioner of two fantasy football leagues and a fantasy basketball league, which is a fun way of saying that I'm the biggest nerd in a herd of nerds. I've been doing this for three years now, and it's been awesome. The problem is, I have never won the championship in any of my leagues, in any year. This fact has haunted me for days on end. Some nights I restlessly lie in my bed, nightmares of lost fantasy sports championships plaguing my mental.

This year was supposed to be different. I invested countless hours before my fantasy football drafts, doing my homework on players whom I should draft. I monitored the waiver wires relentlessly, hoping to obtain the breakout star that would lead me to the promised land. I did my fair share of homework during the season, carefully calculating the players whom I should start and sit. And for 13 weeks, I was successful. I boasted a 10-3 record in one league, and 11-2 in the other, good for 1st place in both. I had won the regular season, carrying tremendous momentum into the playoffs.

And then the playoffs began. Long story short, I got shellacked, walloped, demolished, destroyed, annihilated, obliterated in both leagues. All of that work, wasted in a single week. One bad lineup decision doomed my entire team. I had been beaten so badly in the first week of the playoffs that the second week didn't even matter anymore. I was toast. For a little more than three months, I had worked tirelessly to construct what I believed to be a work of fantasy football art. This year, like last year and the year before, has ended in bitter disappointment.

It was a fun ride while it lasted. Rest in peace, comrades.
Despite this loss, I will be returning again next year, managing my leagues and providing a fun fantasy football service for all of my friends who enjoy playing with me. I will probably spend more time preparing for the draft, I will probably scour the waivers more closely, I will probably spend even more precious time looking after my team, I will probably hold even more hope that the season will finally end with a championship. 

And I fully expect to fall just ever so short once again. But I believe that I will win next year, just as I had the previous two years, and I will expect a different result than the one that constantly torments me. Thus is the definition of insanity, and the reason why I am convinced that my soul has fallen victim to the dementor that is fantasy sports. 

Actual picture of me after I lost in the fantasy football playoffs.

P.S. I would like my blogs to be as interactive as possible with the few of you who actually take the time to waste your life reading this nonsensical nonsense. If you so choose, please leave a comment on this post with a suggestion for my team name or league name for next year. If I like your suggestion enough, I'll use it and give you credit for it! Hey, I might even throw in a fancy dinner or two if I like you. Carry on.

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