It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You know that old Staples commercial with the dad dancing through the aisle as he shops for school supplies with his kids who are miserable because summer is ending and school is starting? Well that’s how this dad feels about football season. More specifically, fantasy football season.
I’m willing to bet most men feel this way about fantasy football. At the risk of sounding cliche, a majority of women I know – my wife included – have no idea why this is so important to us. So let me explain…
First off, there’s the gambling. Men like to gamble. Not only does fantasy football provide an outlet, it is socially acceptable. (And perfectly legal.) So we’re not degenerate gamblers, spending all night in a casino feeding our debit cards into the ATM because we feel a hot streak is coming. Speaking of legality, according to a recent ruling by a federal court in New York, poker is a game of skill and thus not considered “gambling,” I am willing to apply the same reasoning to fantasy football. Sure, plenty of luck is involved. But there is also skill and strategy. Most important, money is on the line. And the only thing sweeter than hoisting that championship trophy in December is one of your buddies handing over a fad wad of cash to help ease the burden of the Christmas bills. Yes. There is a championship trophy. Any respectable league has one. Ours looks like this:
Second, there’s the competition. It’s healthy competition too. And by healthy, I mean no one gets hurt. We’re advancing in age. My friends and I are long-past the time where we could play tackle football, street hockey, and the-only-rule-is-no-splashing water polo. (Yes, we played some mean water polo.) This way, we can compete with each other and the only thing that could potentially get hurt is our pride.
Now, I’ve mentioned friends in the first two examples above. That brings me to my third reason: camaraderie. I am blessed to still be friends with the same group of guys I met in third grade. Two of them are the first two people I met on the playground when I started at my new school. These are ties that are too strong to break. So once a year, we make it a point to all get together at one of our houses for our draft. Then we get to bust each other’s chops for the entire season on the league message board. Who else will laugh at my same jokes and stories from 20 years ago? Every time? My friends. That’s who.
Just how deep are the competition and the camaraderie? A couple of years ago, my wife and I were driving to my sister’s house in Virginia on Thanksgiving. One of my players who was playing in the first game, at 12:30pm, was possibly out with an injury. But I wouldn’t know until game time. Since I had no access to the internet, I called my friend in transit. It was ten minutes before kickoff. I asked him to read me the latest injury report, and swap that player into my lineup for me if he was indeed playing. One problem: he needed my password. I hesitated, but the clock was ticking…
”You are never going to let me live this down,” I warned him.
“What’s the password?” He pressed.
“I Love (My Wife’s Name).”
Cue the hysterical laughter. To this day, I get text messages mocking me. But you know what? I won that game thanks to a touchdown that player scored that day. Totally worth it. (I have since changed my password. And the player in question was Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.)
I haven’t even mentioned perhaps the most important thing in all of this: football itself. Football is religion. It’s our national passion. For heaven’s sake, I put in my wedding vows that one of the reasons I knew my wife was the one is that she “understands that Sundays are for football.” The pastor was quick to point out that Sundays are for church too. (Father, forgive me.) And my wife isn’t even a football fan. She just gets it.
Football is the only program that trumps all else on the television. Any other day, any other time of the year, my daughter and wife can watch whatever they want. Doc McStuffins during a Yankees game? Sure. General Hospital or one of her HGTV shows while Goodfellas or Shawshank is re-airing on cable? No problem. Why? Because I know the television is mine for six hours on Sunday and it’s glorious. Football will always be higher on the food chain because my wife is an amazingly understanding woman. Always.
On behalf of football-crazed men everywhere, I thank you, wives and significant others. For indulging us. You might not get it, but knowing that we do and that it matters is enough for you. And if it’s not, it’s like I always tell my wife: I don’t smoke or do drugs. I rarely drink. I don’t gamble. (Outside of fantasy football.) This is my hobby. My vice. (And blogging.) That’s it. When you put it that way, it’s not too bad now, is it?
Justin is a husband, dad, and writer who also blogs, sometimes about his miserable existence as a Jets fan, at Daddy Knows Less.