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Fantasy Sports: I Don’t Get It!

Fantasy Baseball

I love watching sports. Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, definitely. I love pro and college sports. I also like more archaic sports, such as beach or indoor volleyball. I’ll watch certain kinds of combat sports, such as the World Combat League on Vs., and I’ve even been known to watch a horse race or two. I love watching sports. And, as evidenced by this blog, I clearly love thinking about, talking about, and writing about sports as well. I would say I love sports in general, and all that they entail. Except for one thing: fantasy leagues.

To this point, I’ve joined two fantasy leagues: one baseball, one football. The football team was my first. I actually missed the draft, so I didn’t even get to pick who was on my team. As it turns out, my team was good enough to make the playoffs of my league. Having done little to bolster my team throughout the season, I considered it a moral victory. My baseball team came in second to last place. This doesn’t really bother me, since it’s run through a company I no longer work for. Neither of these leagues have been a huge source of enjoyment or entertainment for me, and I think I’ve figured out why: The drafts take too long.

To me, it’s just not worth it to spend two hours waiting around, with just moments of excitement every now and again when it becomes your turn to pick. It’s like watching a low-scoring baseball game: boring. And unless you really put the time in ahead of the draft, you won’t really know if you’re even getting a good team or not. Granted, there are more experienced fantasy players for whom this is not an issue. But for me, it is. The draft simply takes too long to make it worth it to even play.

Additionally, I find fantasy sports to just be a jocky version of Dungeons and Dragons. When it comes down to it, how different are fantasy sports leagues from fantasy role playing games such as D&D? Both revolve around creating teams of characters with stat based abilities. Having high constitution or charisma is essentially the same as having a high batting average or completion percentage. Instead of player-created dungeons, we have pre-scheduled games for players to pit their athletes in and see who does the best. Instead of experience points, we have fantasy points that lead players to higher rankings and teams to better performances. It’s all the same, and it’s just as nerdy. It’s just not as OVERTLY nerdy, and people hope no one notices what’s below the surface. Frankly, I’m not buying it.

The last reason I’m not crazy about fantasy leagues is that they lack the connectedness of real sports teams. What makes sports great is the way they unite a community around a group of people whose actions they have no control over. The Boston Red Sox, despite being comprised of many players who are not natives of Massachusetts nor even current residents, somehow come to represent the city of Boston. Ohio State’s football team represents even those students who’ve never been to a football game. With fantasy leagues, you lose that in the face of pure individualism. I watch sports to feel part of something larger than myself. I don’t watch to feel more insulated and individualized. Fantasy leagues remove from sports that which makes them wonderful.

Maybe I’ll never get the appeal of fantasy sports. I’ll have to be content with real sports and just hope that somehow Tom Brady develops better THACO.

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Discussion

2 comments for “Fantasy Sports: I Don’t Get It!”

  1. First of all, you should try auctions rather than drafts. Maybe just as time consuming, but certainly calls for more active participation and is definitely more exciting.

    I get your point about the nerdiness involved, but actually, fantasy sports are a pretty good way of gaining an appreciation of player value. I can tell you that I’ve certainly learned a lot from fantasy sports about a player’s value to his real-life ballclub, including signs a player is on the verge of a breakout. If fantasy competitors are nerds, well, so is Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, no?

    True, there’s a lot of math involved, but that’s not terrible. Certainly our country might be better off if we were all a little more educated and competitive in how to take statistics and translate them into success.

    Finally, speaking of competition, you’re lucky enough to be in a community with a fervent local sports base. Rooting for the Red Sox seems natural.

    I honestly was growing a little wary of the money stuff in sports, taking away from appreciation of the game itself. As Seinfeld once said, aren’t we really just rooting for a bunch of dirty laundry? Players move from one team to the next. I grew up loving sports, but until I started playing fantasy sports, I found my interest in sports waning a bit.

    Here was an opportunity to be engaged in competition. You probably need to play in a more competitive league. Or maybe it’s just not for you — which is fine, although don’t begrudge those of us who find it enjoyable.

    Cheers.

    Posted by Fantasy Pro | March 2, 2010, 6:53 pm
  2. Thanks for the comment, always appreciate readers, even if they disagree with me. I would say first off that yes, I consider Billy Beane and Theo Epstein huge nerds. Not that that’s so bad; I consider myself a huge nerd too, just not a fantasy nerd :)
    I understand the counter-argument to fantasy sports, and I also get that perhaps fantasy leagues create new sports communities that are more passionate about players than, as you and Seinfeld call it, “dirty laundary.”
    I didn’t mean to begrudge anyone in my article, so if I offended anyone I apologize. I will agree that fantasy sports just aren’t for me.

    Posted by Matt | March 2, 2010, 9:14 pm

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