Bonding with boys in fantasy football
When my dad told me he was coming to visit last summer to meet my boyfriend Scott, I was pretty nervous. My dad is really laid back and easy to get along with but it’s the whole “meeting the parents” part that freaked me out. I wasn’t sure if they’d have anything in common and I was worried there would be a lot of awkward silences followed by the raised eyebrow of my dad silently asking, “What are your intentions with my daughter, young man?”
It turned out that I was anxious for no reason. My dad was thrilled that I was dating a great guy who would put up with all my crap and who anticipated the upcoming football season as much as he did. They got along famously and in between watching TV and eating and burping at each other they decided to come up with the ultimate dude plan for the fall – start a fantasy football league together.Because that’s the male bonding thing to do, I guess?
My dad has been playing fantasy football for years and I always thought it was an incredibly dorky pastime. I think it’s the word “fantasy” that turned me off. I imagined pale, pimple-faced teenagers drooling over their computers making football plays based on whatever card they drew out of a pile, like PokÃ©mon but for the athletically challenged.
“It’s fun,” my dad said.
I’ve never been patient enough to sit through an entire football game. I could think of 20 things I’d rather do than watch grown men pumped up on steroids run into each other, fighting over a ball. It was going to be a long season.
“You should join our league,” Scott said to me minutes before the online draft started. He was so excited that he spent that morning bouncing all over our apartment like a kid who forgot to take his Ritalin. “We need another person to make the teams even.” The league was composed of my dad, Scott, four members of his family and a bow hunter from West Virginia named Buck. Poking my eye out with a pencil sounded like it would be more enjoyable, but I agreed.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” I said as the online draft began.
“Pick a quarterback, three wide receivers, two running backs, and one tight end,” Scott coached. “Then you’ll need a kicker and a defense. Some weeks teams have a ‘bye’ so you might want to get some back-up players in that case.”
In case you don’t know, this is how it works. Let’s say Eli Manning is the quarterback on your fantasy team. If Eli throws a touchdown pass you get six fantasy points. Then in another game, if John Kasay kicks a field goal and he’s your kicker you get three fantasy points and so on and so forth. During the draft you can choose players for your team even if they are on different teams in real life. Every week you’re matched up with other people in your league and compete to see who wins. This goes on for 14 weeks then the last two weeks you have the championship games to determine who is the league winner. Fun, huh?
My plan became clear. I would annihilate everyone in the league. It would be the underdog story of the year. “Team BoneCrushers sends rest of league crying to their mommies while the thunder of victory echoes in the very soul of the one person in the league who hated the game! Details at ten!”
I became a football addict. Every Sunday afternoon I was glued to the television rooting for my players. I’d switch between all the games and track how my team was doing. Scott signed up for StatTracker online that gives you real-time stats so I was constantly checking the computer. I’d call my dad every Wednesday after “Inside the NFL” on HBO and we’d talk about LT and Reggie Bush and Baltimore’s defense. After not knowing a thing about football my entire life, I was watching back-to-back games and getting genuinely upset if I wasn’t doing well.
At the end of regular season play, I was in second place in our league. My dad was first. Scott was last. Buck from West Virginia? Who the hell was that guy anyway?
The first game of the championship matched me with Molly, Scott’s brother’s girlfriend. She barely won, beating me by three measly points. You can imagine how salty I was over that.
Last week was the final championship game to see who would place in the top three and win the fake online trophy that I coveted. I knew I wouldn’t be able to beat my dad or Molly for first or second, but third place was still up in the air. And wouldn’t you know, I lost. I finished fourth place and Scott ended the season at fifth. Molly is number one.
I’m proud that I learned a lot about a game I always thought was stupid. It has brought my dad and I closer together after having a relationship where we didn’t talk very often. Not to mention he and Scott now have more in common as well. Many positives outweigh the negative of not winning, but I am still left wondering how everyone in my league will feel next year when I am 16-0 and laughing hysterically at their sorry misfortune and general ignorance about such an awesome game? I want to be a good sport, you know.
To comment on this column, e-mail Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.