Sunday, September 7, 2014

Banned From The League

Vince Lombardi's office at Lambeau Stadium, photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

As I mentioned in a previous post, it is football season.  College football is in its second week and pro football began Thursday night.  The pro season will begin in earnest today.

Along with pro football comes fantasy football.  For those of you who are not familiar with this concept, here's a definition:

fan·ta·sy foot·ball
  1. a competition in which participants select imaginary teams from among the players in a league and score points according to the actual performance of their players.
Here's a bit more about fantasy football from the NFL:

"Do you have what it takes to put together a winning football franchise? Fantasy Football gives you the perfect chance to find out. Fantasy football, like other fantasy games, puts you in the front office and on the sidelines as General Manager and Coach of your team. You select from a list of the best players in the NFL and they compete on a weekly basis for your team. Their on-field performance drives your fantasy point total and overall success.

Specifically, fantasy football works like this: You decide what type of league you want to participate in, acquire a roster of players (either through a draft or through autopick assignment), then set your lineup each week during the season and watch as touchdowns, field goals, yards gained, sacks, interceptions and much, much more generate fantasy points for or against your team. Whether you win or lose and climb or fall on the leaderboard all depends on how well you maximize the talent on your roster each week. Will you make a risky move to start that backup running back or will you play it safe and keep your starting lineup consistent?"

Fantasy football gives average fans the chance to engage in competition with others.  There is also the ego rub of envisioning yourself as an owner and coach of a team.  I do not know of any football fan who hasn't had the passing thought of sitting in the chair like the one pictured in the above photo.

I played fantasy football for the first time in (I think) 1991.  Back in the "Dark Ages" before the internet, it was all magazines and clipboards.  I came up with the name, "The Hail Mary Heros" for my team and yes, that was a misspelling.  (Spelling, as well as grammar has never been a strong suit of mine and if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know the tradition continues.)  Back then, it was a hobby of a few football fans.  That is no longer the case today.

Fantasy football is, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (as reported by the Huffington Post) a billion dollar business with approximately 24.3 million players.  The days of having to run leagues by paper are as passe as Betamax.  It's now all online and to paraphrase the legendary Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, "Just login baby."  

Although there are A LOT of folks playing fantasy football this year, I am not one of them.  You see, I was banned from my league.  Well, to be precise, I was not invited back to play with my league.

It seems that when I played last year, I was not great at keeping my team's roster updated.  I did try to use the mobile app on my iPhone and for whatever reason, it did not always work.  As a result, I did not field a complete roster.  The net result was that I left points on the board and lost contests with opposing players I might have otherwise won.

That's what got me booted.  It seems as if some of the members of my league were frustrated at my lack of fidelity in maintaining a a full roster regularly.  When I first heard about this, I was both amused, and yes, I bit annoyed.  I mean come on guys, this is a game, a diversion.   I get it, some of you take this stuff seriously.  Here's a quote from the Huffington Post about fantasy football, "Sort of a Dungeons & Dragons for jocks,..."  I think there's some truth to that.  And to be fair, I played a bunch of  "D & D" back in the day.

But were my fellow league owners out of line to kick me out?  Upon reflection, not at all.  I blew it off and why have me around if I'm not even going to do the base level of participation?  Dr. Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," (Habit 5) comes to mind, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  If I look at this situation from the guys who banned me point of view, they had every right to do so.  Just because fantasy football is not a big deal to me doesn't mean it's not to others.  

Maybe some day I'll give fantasy football another try.  In the meantime, I'm happy just being a fan.  Good luck to everyone playing fantasy football this year and remember, update your rosters to avoid my fate with your league. 

Be well my friends,



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