I'VE GOT this one
friend who's impossible to get ahold of. Unless, that is, I send him a fantasy
trade proposal, in which case he responds pretty much instantaneously.
Sometimes I go so far as to embed personal messages.
Tom Brady for Steven
Jackson ... When's your wife due? Last week was different, though. Last week I
heard from him nine times. Naturally, our league drafted on Monday.
football season is back, that time of year when rational men act in irrational
ways. According to a doctor friend, during the night shift at a Bay Area
hospital last weekend, both on-duty ER docs were huddled around a computer,
poring over draft rankings for an hour. Appendicitis? Surely it can wait until
the fourth round. Then there's my neighbor, who has two kids and works at a
high school. He prepared for his first day of work by—what else?—flying to
Vegas for a weekendlong draft. He returned on Sunday night, exhausted but
rapturous. Eyes bleary, voice like charcoal, he uttered two triumphant words:
Once, we might
have explained away such behavior as that of the fringe obsessive. Now, I'm not
so sure. I'm starting to think it's more socially acceptable to play fantasy
sports than not to. Nearly 20 million Americans do it; even real athletes play.
When I spoke with Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday last week, he was far more
interested in discussing his fantasy team than the NL West race (and
considering the NL West this year, I don't blame him). As it turns out, Matt
and I made the same first-round pick this season, so allow me to speak for both
of us when I say, Marion Barber, we're counting on you, buddy!
does not pay for itself. According to an August report from a Chicago research
group, fantasy football will cost U.S. employers an estimated $9.2 billion in
lost work time this season. That's more than the city budget of San Francisco,
more than the GNP of Jamaica. Hell, you could buy nine NFL franchises for that
money. And that's not even factoring in other fantasy sports or the amount of
leisure time consumed by draft recon and tense score monitoring. How tense? A
University of Mississippi study found that nearly half of fantasy players
rarely or never drink while watching games because they take a "more
business-like approach." Thanks, Bill, but no tall boys for me today. Can't
you see I'm working here?
Who will stop the
fantasy madness, you ask? The WAFS, that's who. No, not the Wisconsin Alliance
for Fire Safety, though I hear it does fine work, but rather Women Against
Fantasy Sports, a group started by Allison Lodish, a 35-year-old
self-proclaimed fantasy widow whose husband recently joined his 10th fantasy
football league. The WAFS website features a message board for members to post
horror stories, like the tale of the newlywed whose betrothed spent the
inaugural evening of their honeymoon managing his squad. The site also sells
apparel with up-the-revolution mottoes such as CLOSED FOR THE FANTASY SEASON
(on, uh, panties) and I THOUGHT I WAS YOUR FANTASY. Ouch. How are we men
supposed to respond? By starting DORKs (Dudes Obsessed with Ranking
Perhaps the two
sides just need to talk it out. So I called Lodish and arranged to meet at a
coffee shop near her home in Kentfield, Calif. At first glance she looked
friendly—curly blonde hair, big smile—but then so do black bears before they
tear your scalp off. She explained the site's origin, saying, "Nobody's
ever really come out publicly and said, You guys are a bunch of lame-asses for
getting emotionally involved in this stuff." I countered that just last
week a stay-at-home dad won $1 million in a fantasy fishing contest
(33-year-old Michael Thompson, livin' the dream!). In return, she offered some
advice, "Chris, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a
problem." She said something else too, but I didn't catch it, because I was
too busy checking the Red Sox-- Yankees box score on my cellphone. After all,
there are only three weeks left in the fantasy baseball season.
When I got home,
my wife wanted to know if I had "learned" anything. I thought for a
second. Sure, Lodish had a decent argument. And, true, even a pro jock—Giants
outfielder Randy Winn, who plays in four fantasy football leagues—said, when I
told him about WAFS, "They do have a point." And, yeah, I probably
could be more productive with my time.
So I turned to my
wife, figuring I should be honest, and singled out the most important thing I'd
learned during the talk with Lodish.
said, " Jason Giambi was 2 for 2 with a homer...."
If you have a comment on fantasy leagues, go to SI.com/pointafter.