It’s that time of year when sports widows don their lace veils and call a priest to administer last rights to their relationships. From now until the end of the year their men (and even some of their girlfriends) will become immersed in the world of Football and Basketball. For an increasing number of them that loss is not just on Sunday or Monday Nights. Thanks to Fantasy Sports, what is normally a once or twice a week obsession becomes a daily operation wrought with roster changes, status updates and injury alerts pinging phones at all hours of the night. Everything that happens on the field (or off in some cases) has real life implications to a carefully assembled super team that you hope to lead to glory and a year of bragging rights.
However, at this time last year I took a sabbatical from Fantasy Sports. Since 2004 I’d been part of fifteen different Basketball leagues and seven Football leagues. Prior to participating in Fantasy I was a casual sports watcher, catching the primetime games on weekends and the playoffs. But that all changed when I participated in my first draft and became part of the trash-talking, stat tracking disciples of the digital duels. I needed to watch every game. I signed up for NBA League Pass and streamed NFL games when I was away from home. Not because I cared about which team won, but who had put up the most stats for my fantasy team and whoever I was playing against that week. I was obsessed and it paid off in wins. I wasn’t a fantasy god but my trophy case was respectable and winning fueled the desire to play. Why? Because before we had Twitter we humiliated each other in the message boards in the most imaginable ways possible. It was great.
But then it stopped being fun and I had to take a break. A break that I think will be permanent. Why? Here are 10 reasons I am saying good-bye to Fantasy Sports.
10) The draft.
Anyone familiar with fantasy sports knows how hard it is to schedule a draft in the first place. Then there is that last minute scramble to fill slots because someone dropped out or you have an odd number of managers/teams. This leads to the inevitable noob coming on board who not only misses the draft and makes us all suffer through his/her auto picks, but then doesn’t bother to set their rosters for half the season. “Why the hell is Tom Brady/Kobe Bryant on the bench??” Yeah, you know the type.
9) Waiver Wire Vultures
In my first year of playing Fantasy Football in 2006 I was that noob that let the computer pick his squad and had Drew Bledsoe, then QB for the Dallas Cowboys, as my starting quarterback. Since I wasn’t home glued to my television when he was knocked out of the game against the Giants, I was not able to swoop in and grab Tony Romo off of waivers, but someone else in the league did. Oh, I did have another QB though. Donovan McNabb. And you know what his 2006 season was like. It’s hard to imagine now that someone was in a place where they wanted Tony Romo as a QB, but that did happen.
8) Stat Tracker
Yahoo! Fantasy sports has a feature that updates you on stats in real time. Once upon a time we had to pay for it but it’s now a free tool. It’s a gift and a curse. After every damn play, every completion, pass, kick, fumble, TD, recovery…you name it I was looking at that screen to see if I’d gained any ground on my opponent (or them on me). And I can’t remember how many times I would think I was ahead in points only to wake up the next morning when stats were revised to find that I’d lost by one tackle, free throw or blocked kick.
But the worst is when you look at Roddy White of The Falcons on Stat Tracker because the game isn’t broadcast in your city and he hasn’t had a reception the whole game, so you wonder if he was a late scratch. Nope, he was just being covered by Darrelle Revis.
7) NBA League Pass
Before I stayed up all night on Twitter and Instagram I was watching Basketball. Lots of it. No one on the East coast would normally give a damn about a West Coast game between The Golden State Warriros and Minnesota Timberwolves, but when you’re a Fantasy nut with Kevin Love or Monte Ellis (back then) in your line up you will lose sleep to see how many buckets they drop around 1 am in the morning.
6) The Hype Beast aka Michael Vick
In 2011, the last time I played Fantasy Football, I drafted Michael Vick way too early based on a few of the outstanding games he’d had in his return to football the year before. Here I was thinking I was getting a QB/RB who would get me passing and rushing yards. And I picked up his favorite target DeSean Jackson to boot! I was gonna beast! Not. It was my worst finish ever. Vick threw for 3300 yards but got sacked 23 times with 14 interceptions. DeSean didn’t even have a thousand receiving yards that season.