I’ve played Fantasy Football (in the business of Fantasy sports writing, we’re taught to capitalize the term) since 1997. I was 14 then and I joined on a whim because I was a big San Francisco 49ers fan growing up in the wine-country suburbs of Santa Barbara county in California.
My appreciation for the sport has grown over the years and it’s most certainly close to an obsession now. To illustrate my point, let me tell you that I’m one of those football fans who follows high school recruiting. I keep track of where teenagers choose to go to college to play football. So from high school to college and into the NFL, I follow the full trajectory of football players. I say this not to brag, but to properly demonstrate how much I enjoy the game and how sad my day-to-day life is.
It’s to the point where I don’t really enjoy talking about football unless I am talking to someone completely immersed in the sport. It’s just difficult. It sounds cocky, but everybody has their different interests. For example, say I was a mechanic who knew everything there is to know about cars. Personally, I don’t know much about cars. There’s nothing about cars that I know and he doesn’t know. Mechanics have a specialized knowledge, that is his or her passion. The same goes for me with football.
As you can imagine then, this NFL lockout has me on edge. Not only is there a possibility of no football and even worse, no Fantasy Football.
I’ll be honest with you. I care more about my Fantasy teams than I do about my NFL team. I live in Maryland now and when I do see the 49ers on TV, they’re probably losing. I still care, I still want them to win but I follow the team closely enough to know they’re not very good. And yes, I know they brought in a new head coach so there are reasons to be optimistic, but I try to remain realistic.
My Fantasy Football teams are intimately personal. I have invested all of my football knowledge and whittled it down to the players I believe will be successful. From following these guys as sophomores and juniors in high school, now all the way into the NFL, if I can’t put together a successful team, then what the hell am I doing wasting all this time following the game? And yes, it is a waste. Football is just a game. I have no impact on it in any way, shape or form. I am completely disconnected to it and yet, I follow it as though I am the owner of a football team.
The idea of not being able to express this energy and compete in a game I have grown to love is not something I want to accept. Melodramatic? Absolutely.
Think of it like taking away a small child’s favorite toy. To them, you may as well have taken their souls. There’s nothing more in this world that they cherish more. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But you get the point.
The NFL lockout is bullshit. The fact that “billionaires are fighting with millionaires” is bullshit too. There’s no reason to rehash the lockout details because they don’t matter. It’s two fat kids fighting for the last piece of pizza. There is no right answer. There is no moral relativity to it. In reality, they deserve each other.
How can the finances of a game matter to any fan? The NFL is not mandatory. Attending games is voluntary, as are investing time and money into the sport unless you’ve voluntarily signed a contract stating you would buy season tickets.
The bottom line for any fan is they want to watch football. For me, I just want them to figure it out, do what you have to do and play football. That’s it. Lock yourselves in a room, bring some beef jerky and water, get comfortable and come to an agreement.
As long as both sides are making money, which they are and will continue to do, it’s all fine by me. All I want to do is participate in my Fantasy draft, talk some trash amongst friends and spend my time nerding it up with the game I love.
Matt De Lima is that obnoxious know-it-all friend that we all have who is way too into sports. Between writing articles about touchdowns and home runs, he enjoys watching “Mad Men” and eating cereal because it’s easier than cooking.