Fantasy football is everywhere these days. Heck, I’m even playing in a league for the first time this season.
ESPN has a full 90 minute show Sunday mornings devoted to it. There are millions of websites with billions of bits of information about every possible player, their stats, projected potential points this week and any hint of an injury that could impact a guy’s numbers. There’s even a very funny sit-com on Fox about the antics of a bunch of high school friends (now adults) who play in a fantasy league together and it’s aptly called “The League.”
On the plus side, playing fantasy football does make you pay attention to teams and games you might otherwise not care about. It’s broadened the game, so to speak, making every little play of every game have some meaning. And that might be a good thing. All this interest in every little detail has probably been good for the NFL, team’s pocketbooks, and even ticket brokers as fans want to become involved in teams other than those in their own backyard or whose games are only broadcast by local stations.
But in the end, does it make us better or worse fans? Are we really rooting FOR teams and players anymore, or just the stats they generate? If the team wins but “your player” sucks, how do you feel? Kind of a mixed feeling, isn’t it? Are there times when you are actually rooting against a rival’s player and secretly smiling when he’s out for the season? Does that make you a “better fan?” When you saw Jamal Charles of the Chiefs go down with an knee injury was your first thought “I hope he’s okay” or “Who can I grab off the waiver wire to possibly replace and the point he earns for me?” Sounds more like someone with an addiction problem than a fan.
At the very least, has it given you an appreciation for the decisions that owners and coaches face each day? What? You’re now starting to think like a money-grubbing owner? Oh no!
Seriously: in the end the NFL will be fine and will continue to be the “sports cash machine” it has always been, despite the phenomenal growth of fantasy football. It’s the fans who are changing and could suffer from the impact of FF.
Excuse me, but I gotta go now and set my line-up for Sunday. Should I start Schaub or Grossman?