I often get asked why I play in as many fantasy sports as I do. And truthfully, I don’t know. It wasn’t really on my radar when I was younger. In fact, it took some poking and prodding from my buddy Jason that finally got me semi-interested. He asked me if I would like to be in his fantasy football league. I’ll fully admit I was just doing it to be nice and “going through the motions” in the meantime, not really knowing what this “fantasy football” was really about. Little did I know how much saying “yes” would change my life.
Funny thing is I ended up getting hooked when all I had intended to do was help out a buddy. I went to my first draft at Tailgaters Sports Bar in Fargo with nothing more than a magazine. I figured I knew enough about football that I could wing my way through it. I didn’t realize this wonderful world that was awaiting me inside. One that was filled with food, drinks and trash talking.
This is the moment it clicked. I saw sides of people that I didn’t know existed. It was letting your guard down and having a good time for those few hours. After my first draft (which by the way is the best night of the season other than winning it), I couldn’t wait to submit my lineup. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it was going to be fun. And I knew that from that day on this would be something that could very well consume every free minute I had.
I saw the popularity and knew this wasn’t something that was going away. I didn’t know at that time how big it was. I was ashamed to say I played fantasy football and that I was hooked on it. Who wanted to be known as the guy who plays “fantasy”? It’s transformed from a “geeky” hobby to mainstream, with even big time media types jumping on the bandwagon.
Since that day in 1997 I’ve been in countless leagues, done just as many fantasy shows, and fantasy sports has become a big part of my life, except it means something different to me now. Something more. It’s about the camaraderie with friends. Most of the time we’re doing it online, and while it isn’t as much fun to zing someone if you can’t see their face; it’s turned into more of a social event then a party. It’s about staying in contact with friends that I don’t see on a regular basis. Even if we grow apart and don’t have much in common, we’ll always have the same fictional world.