A Friendly family game of fantasy football

January 22, 2016

I have never played Fantasy Football. I have enjoyed watching with my dad, or attending high school games. I really didn’t know too much about fantasy football until a man I work with recently explained it to me. His utter delight in this pastime has really made me think about its possibilities and place in American lives.

For Danny, it is as much about family as it is about football. He loves the game, every aspect of it: the strategy, the players, the crowd and the hype. But more than football, Danny loves his large family. Now in his 30’s, his family fields a friendly game every Thursday evening when they get together. He loves playing with his teenage nephews, though he observes that his recovery time isn’t quite what it used to be.

As with any family, there are some who are less involved, either because they live far away, or are busy, or have a beef with one family member or another. This has always pained Danny, as his family herding instinct seems to run deep, and he is dismayed by any split, no matter the reason. He could not have known how large an impact his love for football would have in unifying any separations that have arisen.

Already an enthusiastic participant in a fantasy football league, he decided to start one for his own family. Entry was set at an affordable $20, and anyone who wanted to participate was welcome. His nephews aged 12 and 13 play as one team, as do his in-laws who are out of town. He explained that first they had an evening of draft pick. They all gathered for this event. His nephew who won last year brought the 2 foot high trophy which Danny had bought for last year’s winner, and this year’s hopefuls could lay eyes on it right in the beginning of the season.

Danny relays that since people pick players and not whole teams as they exist in the NFL, everyone has an interest in every game. They stay with their teams for the entire season. This is what differentiates this type of league from those such as Draft Kings which have been in the media this fall. Players gain points when they touch the ball, and more points are awarded for longer carries or bigger plays. Since it’s now done on-line, the points are tabulated automatically, and a “team” might rack up close to 100 points in a week. Team “owners” have choices about who they put in each game, from among the players they have chosen, so there is some way to influence how their team does, but a lot is just the luck of how those particular players do in any given week. Trades are also possible, and Danny loves to do this because it keeps it fresh, and also provides a natural point of interaction with his family.

He finds that they always have something to talk about during football season. Relatives who he otherwise does not talk to a great deal will initiate a call to him and ask advice about trades, or how he thinks a player is doing. He loves this and encourages “smack talk” between participants, as this raises the level of fun. The risk is low because there is so much that is out of people’s control, no one has to worry too much about making bad decisions or being embarrassed. Yet there is just enough personal input that it is worth paying attention and trying to sway the result.

Danny himself does not care about the outcome. Having the level of family involvement has meant that he wins every week (although with the season now finished for this league, he smiles when he acknowledges that of the three leagues in which he participates, he won one, and came in third in another).

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