Monday, September 10, 2012

leaving the game to enjoy the game

This year, after almost 20 years of playing fantasy football, I decided to not manage a single fantasy football team.  This past Sunday was the first non-playoff Sunday that I watched football with little to no regard of how individual players performed.

This is a journal to record how it went.

I would call myself a football fan in the way that I am fanatical about the game. 

Is it a variation of chess in a physical form?  Yes.

Did I play strat-o-matic football growing up?  Yes.  The Cowboys were a beast of a team.

Do I watch a game and spend more time watching how the defence is lining up pre-snap than I would like to admit?  Yes.

Are these arbitrary questions that really establish little to no context of the sentence that preceded them?  Most probably.

It was opening Sunday, half an hour before kick off and I was nowhere near a computer or pre-game telecast.  I was about to dip my body into a very cold bath and trying to brace myself for that "experience", while audibly convincing my delicate parts not to retreat back up into my body. 

I've read that taking a cold bath after a run helps reduce inflammation in the joints, so it was my first week of doing that activity.  When I started running again last year, I used to dread the pain that my legs would be in about 5 minutes into my run.  Now I quite look forward to the runs in comparison to the bath afterwards. 

I used to run pretending zombies were chasing me.  There's an app for that.  Now?  I run from the pretend zombies but not home, because when I get home I have this torture facing me, so I continue to run, from baths. 

I guess a zombie crawling out of a bathtub would be one of my greatest fears. 
I researched the cold-bath therapy instead of checking the weather in New York to decide which kicker to start.  Instead of seeing what defences were weakest against the pass this year to choose my 3rd WR.

What was happening was that it felt like doing those activities, setting the lineup, evaluating scenarios, it had become tedious, almost routine, and I wasn't getting anything from it.  Could I half ass it and not do all that?  Yes, but, really, no. 

Being competitive, you don't want to fail out of ignorance.  So I devour information.  Fantasy football information gathering offers nothing that could be of any use in social settings, not even social settings that only involve other players of fantasy football, for in those settings, people are just waiting to talk about their own team.

I feel more comfortable sharing information about cold bath therapy than I do discussing the merits of TEs who get more playing time because they are good blockers. 

So as this past Sunday rolled around, I was introduced to a new channel on TV, the redzone channel.  Oh my football goodness!  It is a thing to behold.  I am considering getting the channel, even though I don't care who scores for any personal preferences.  There is no better way to watch a slate of games than through the redzone channel.  To the person/s who came up with that channel and to all those who work on it, I give my thanks.

Even though this channel may have been like freebasing a drug if I had a fantasy team, it was viewed with little to no negative emotional feeling when it didn't matter who on the team scored, just what team scored. 

And that's the crux of the problem.  Fantasy football, initially and in its purest form is meant to add, not subtract from the enjoyment of football.  I enjoy football, I enjoy participating in fantasy leagues with my friends.  For some reason though, unlike peanut butter and chocolate, the twine fail to meet.

Of course, it doesn't help that last year our fantasy league was partially decided by a coin flip rather than a cognitive interpretation of rules.   

But that may have been the straw that broke the camel's back. 

How did I feel watching the ending of Seattle Arizona with no financial, fantasy impact on the line?  I felt entertained.

And that's what these games are, entertainment.  Do you need to have a fantasy football team to be entertained?  Maybe, but then for you, perhaps the fantasy is the entertainment.

For me?  I prefer making up my own storylines. 

Last season, Pittsburgh went into Denver in the playoffs and lost a highly entertaining game.  This season, they started in Denver and lost an entertaining football game.  It was more interesting to me to see that Pittsburgh had found a way to drive consistently against the Broncos, rather than concerning myself with who was on the field and why my RB wasn't getting the hand-offs from Peyton Manning.

Because its not about me.  Its about the players who play the game, the coaches who coach the game and everyone else who is involved in the entertaining spectacle of sport.

I spend all week working on me and things that have something to do with my decisions.  Having my Sundays to enjoy football and enjoy watching other people work, that's a pretty good fantasy.