Is Fantasy Football Healthy For us?

I absolutely love the health food populace, you know these people who are all on your back about grabbing an extra cookie or sneaking into the fridge for a late night coke. They cite numerous research and books they’ve read as to why if you have another Big Mac, your heart will just punch out and quit on you. Yes.. Yes.. we get it, but as I’ve always said if you outlive someone by 3 years because you where steadfast in eating brussel sprouts everyday as oppose to a few monthly trips to Carl’s Jr; then so be it.

What did that rant have to do with fantasy football? Nothing really, but I just had to get that off my chest. Maybe there’s a small correlation with the word health. Now when I ask is fantasy football healthy for us, I mean it purely from a viewership stance. There was a time when people tuned into Monday Night Football just to watch two teams compete on the highest level of America’s favorite sport, but now I find us all rooting for strange unique fantasy outcomes.

Just last night in the Chiefs’ dismantling of the Patriots, I was up by a point in my weekly fantasy matchup to a guy whose remaining player was Stephen Gostowski. 5 years ago, my mind’s main focus would have been how is Jamaal Charles going to perform coming off an injury to a uncommonly struggling Patriots team? But yesterday, my mind was on all the ways that Gostowski wouldn’t get two points for my opponent. “Well what if he pulls a hammy in warm-ups1“; “Hey the Chiefs are doing well maybe they’ll shut New England out”, “Why don’t kickers lose points for missed field goals, they should at least lose a point if they miss a short one”, “Hey the Chiefs are up 24-0, Belichick is risky enough to try and score 3 TDs with two point conversions, Gostowski won’t see the field” – These sadly were all thoughts that ran through my mind yesterday. For the record New England went on to score two touchdowns with Stephen Gostowski netting two extra points in the process.

 

What concerns me is that all of these strange interests and conflicts of interest that we now have on Sunday changes the way we watch the game, and I feel like it makes us dumber. Now I am by no means saying that fantasy football or those who are employed in FF advice and analysis are dumb, I’m saying when our perceptions of certain players are totally based off of what we know about them as fantasy players, what does that do to our overall NFL experience? I believe before the rise of FF we focused more on the strengths and weaknesses of a player as they related to their team, and the overall effect that had on that teams performance as a whole. We’ve now moved to a stat based focus which centers around how much production will this guy get on the Titans’ D this Sunday.

 

Maybe the rise in popularity of FF is a good thing and allows the world to be interested in games that they never would otherwise have no rooting interest in, but I always though that’s what made football so special: their ability to make you care even when your favorite team has no implications in the match. Sunday afternoon Fox NFC match ups with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman usually do nothing to help or hither my Buffalo Bills playoff dreams, but I am still locked in because there are not many things on TV like the drama, excitement, and experience of NFL football. But in 2014, a great majority of the young viewers don’t have an objective experience with the game like that, just a concern as two why their recent wavier wire pick up is not producing.

 

I am not in any way demonizing the game of fantasy football. I enjoy playing, talking, and debating it. It adds excitement to any game because the variety of rooting interests. It has created an interesting culture within football fandom, interesting TV shows like The League; which dramatizes the bonds and relationships of a fantasy league. My concerns over what it does to us from a pure quality of understanding the game perspective my be unfounded, but I just thought it was worth mentioning.

 

Footnote

  1. I would never embrace the thought of a player injury, but to say the thought didn’t enter my head would be a lie.