Friday, August 23, 2013

I Need All Of You To Stop Talking About Fantasy Football

Your Evil, My Swamp
I'm the kind of guy who, the more popular something becomes, the less interested I am in watching it. Remember when you watched "Friends", "24", "Survivor", "American Idol," "The Sopranos" and all of those MTV Young People Behaving Badly shows? I don't, because I've never. How about when you saw "Avatar", "Titanic", "The Avengers" or "The Dark Knight"? Those are only, according to IMDB, the four largest grossing U.S. movies in history with a combined box office of $575,770,757... and none of those dollars are mine. I am uncomfortable in big crowds, even if said crowds are nowhere near me.

Also, for the first time this year, I have the NFL Network as part of my cable package. Next, I got involved in a gym program that pushed me from every other day to more like 4 out of every 5. So my nights are spent in recovery and pain, and staying up too late, because I can't eat before exercise (digestive issues; age is fun!) and can't go to sleep very soon after eating (second verse, same as the first). The final part of the puzzle is that I have been doing a damn near terrifying amount of work. July was busy, and August has already eclipsed July. So we've been in a 8 weeks and counting experience of trying to stay out of the weeds, with dozens of client calls, special projects, company-wide presentations, and more nights where I'm working a double-shift than a single.

So here's what has been happening, dear readers... I've had preseason games on in the background constantly to keep awake while I plow through the work. Which means that every commercial break, I hear someone hyping their fantasy football broadcast or podcast. And every few minutes, I hear how so and so is a great choice for your fantasy team, because every local telecast team (and preseason is mostly local, and will make you long for the dulcet tones and relative intellect of the major network mouthbreathers) thinks they are being very, very edgy and youth-oriented to mention fantasy teams. (In another 3 to 5 years, someone is going to say PPR during a telecast, and the world will end.)

Now, I play fantasy football. I'm watching these games for small little tells like first quarter line play or usage tendencies, along with how athletic and hungry the special teams look, because that's a good leading indicator of how well the team is evaluating talent at the back end of the roster. I've also been known to bet a football game or hundred.

But do you know what I'm not looking for? The breathtaking news that, say, Calvin Johnson is a really good guy to have on your team. Or that Obvious First Round Pick Guy is also really great.

No, you think? And where do you get the stones to say such things!

The final straw comes when a panel of chuckling meatheads push something called National Draft Week, as if this is the only time to draft a team, or that the presence of hundreds of hooting twerps in a theater makes all of this, well, something to cheer.

You see, here's the thing. I believe that fantasy sports are an essentially nerdy and nitty experience. The idea that more people care about their fantasy team than the real ones, or that people feel very enthused about telling you about their team, is not a positive development. This is, at its heart, masturbatory and timesucky to the extreme, and if you really need to talk about your experience... you should probably stop.

There's also this. It used to be a little bit difficult to grind your way to good fantasy football intel. There were always guys that slipped through the cracks, players who were overvalued on name recognition, running backs who had passed their sell-date. And now, all of that grindwork has been taken away, because it's become stunningly easy to just click on a few good columns, listen to a few podcasts, do a little average draft position research, and then just get lucky with injuries.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's become too popular. No one goes there any more.

So. Here's what I need.

The oceans to recede, the planet to reverse, the nerds to find something else to ruin, and personal shame to return. And for everyone to stop, in the inspiring words of Swamp Thing, bringing their evil into my swamp.

Somehow, I don't think I'm alone in this wish.

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