The horribly terrific game that we allow to torture us all

Photo courtesy of forums.grimreapergamers.com

Photo courtesy of forums.grimreapergamers.com

Fantasy football is the best thing to happened to the NFL since the game started being televised, while also turning into an almost addictive part of everyday life no matter how many times we lose.

Before the start of every NFL season people from across the world get together, all with the hopes of putting together a team of players that is better than the one their counterparts were able to assemble. Some people do research, while others do not, and simply select players based upon their name or the team they play for.

The fantasy football gods do not care either way, as luck seems to constantly determine the fate of our teams from week to week, as well as the condition of our mood until the next week’s game roll around. The worst part is, nearly 75 million people continue to volunteer to be tortured by a game that no one can seem to get enough of.

Why do we subject ourselves to fantasy sports, particularly the most popular one involving the NFL? The game brings people together in such a way that it can also sometimes tears them apart after any given Sunday. So much rides on the outcomes of our weekly match-ups from mid-September to December, that winning and losing in fantasy has become more important to some than whether their favorite team beats a division opponent.

This game is almost entirely based on luck, as each year players that are projected to have good seasons struggle, and players that no ones ever heard of win people their league. Everyone knows this, yet each year people obsess over the draft in a way that is completely unnecessary.

The success you have in fantasy is so loosely related to who you draft, making this sick game even more insane. As the saying goes, you cannot win your league at the draft, but you can certainly lose it. It’s this exact unpredictability that keeps us coming back for more each August.

That same unpredictability also drives people nuts, as they lose by fractions of a point to someone who did not even check their lineup before Week 8’s games. Yet, the agony of losing in such a horrific scenario actually sucks us in even more. It’s unfathomable the grip this game has on people, some of whom have never even watched a full game of football.

In a way, the unpredictability is what capture us, draws us in and keeps us coming back for more. Sunday mornings have never been more stressful, looking over match-ups and having to make a final decision on who to play as the clock creeps towards 1 p.m. EST.

Then, every Sunday, once the majority of the games begin and nearly your entire roster locks, your fate is out of your hands. It’s the weirdest, unexplainable yet soothing feeling knowing whether you win or lose is now up to someone else. I’d like to think there is someone up there who knows if you’ve been naughty or nice who decides our fantasy fate, but sometimes it’s just hard to believe in that.

As if Sunday’s were not bad enough, the NFL’s cruel idea to have one game on Monday night brings that same agony back for another 24 hours. Everyone knows by Monday morning where they stand on the scoreboard and who they have left to play against who their opponent has. It’s like the players playing on Monday night almost mean more in fantasy, as we all watch if the week ahead is going to include non-stop reminders of how your team lost.

So this torture happens every week for about three months, and we by now have accepted it. If you are lucky enough, your fantasy team makes the playoffs after 13 weeks. You thought the weekly agonizing and stress was bad during the regular season? Well, say hello to the playoffs.

Usually only lasting one week, winning and losing in the playoffs can come down to one click. There’s nothing worse than getting upset in the playoffs by a lower seed while knowing you made the wrong choice of who to start in your flex. As a reminder, you get to stare at your bench loaded with points that do not count because you decided to play Jarvis Landry instead of Kamar Aiken. (Yes, I am still bitter.)

This whole fantasy football thing is not all bad, though. It does give football fans something else to cheer for on a weekly basis other than your favorite team, who may be having a terrible season. Then again, there is nothing worse than the feeling of watching a player absolutely tear up your favorite team’s defense. Being torn takes on an entirely new meaning.

Fantasy football has changed the way we all watch America’s favorite sport, some say changed it for the better, while others remember the days of only rooting for your favorite team. People still try to follow teams, as it continues to get harder and harder. Daily fantasy, in combination with your six fantasy teams, has all but eliminated having favorite teams for the next generation.

Now more than ever fans are following players instead of teams. Fantasy sports has almost made this the norm, and I am not sure I like the new normal. Less and less people are going to games, and those that are going prove the “Stubhub effect” to be true. Stadiums are no longer 80-90 percent full of people rooting for the home team. It has become easier than ever to get tickets to any game, meaning the idea of home field advantage in some places is quickly evaporating.

Sports have never had bigger names headlining match-ups, but gone are the days of rivalries between teams for this exact reason. The NFL is the one league where rivalries do still somewhat exist, if only because of the high-contact, war-like nature of the sports itself.

Fantasy sports rivalries have replaced those rivalries on the field for better or worse, and one television show eloquently captured all of the emotions that go into fantasy football. Enjoy what happens when winning or losing in the fantasy football playoffs comes down to some random kicker making a field goal.

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