Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The One Where I Try to Make Fantasy Football Sound Important and Noble

on pop theology, philosophy, theology, culture, pop culture, christianity
by Ben Howard

I wish that everything in life operated like fantasy football. This is not a joke. I really want this to happen. I want to draft people from my office and get points based on what they do during the day.

I'd get 1 point every time they use the copier, 2 points every time they print something, 5 points every time they talk about how stupid that last customer was, and 10 points every time they tell me that one story, you know that one, the one they tell every time they feel the need to tell you a story.

Seriously, wouldn't this make every day better? I mean I wouldn't get anything done, but it would be so enthralling. I would spend my entire day paying attention to a world of things that I've never even attempted to pay attention to. I'd care about what people did, albeit in an entirely ridiculous and horribly unsupportive way.

This is the single greatest thing about playing fantasy football. It not only gives you an excuse to care about things that don't matter (like professional football), but it also gives you an excuse to care about thing that don't matter within that world of previous things that didn't matter (like Week 13 between St. Louis and Buffalo, go Ryan Fitzpatrick!).

I promise you, there will be a random Sunday afternoon where I will be paying close, almost obsessive attention to a Carolina Panthers game when they're 4-10 and not even people in Charlotte care about them anymore. And I will be doing all of this so that I can win bragging rights over a guy I only see once a year at our fantasy football draft. And I'll get my name on a plaque. Woo! Plaque!

I know it's childish. I really do, but its fun and I get to care about things that I don't usually care about. I like having a reason to care. I like feeling engaged. I think that's the reason I love sports in general. They give me a reason to care.

In sports, everything is so naked. The goal of the game is to win and the consequences of any given outcome are known at the beginning. It's easy to be invested because it's easy to know the point of the game. Sports are honest like that. Everything is raw and even sometimes emotional because everything is at the surface. Everything is open.

And that's why I care. Because I know what it means.

I know it's difficult to be that open with people. It's difficult and it can be terrifying to trust someone so much that you don't hedge your hopes and dreams; that they know what a win looks like and what a loss looks like in your world. But I think that's what real community is.

Real community is when we are so open with each other that we can't help but be invested in each others success and failures. It's when we know the goals of the others and we want to see them get there. We want to root for them and encourage them and maybe even yell at them when it seems like they're about to give up, and since they are in our living rooms and not halfway across the country like some meaningless football player, they can actually hear us and it might actually do some good.

Maybe we need more fans and the first step to getting more fans is telling them what game we're playing in the first place.

But that takes a lot of trust. And it's really difficult.

Part of me wishes I could end this post by telling you what a win looks like to me. Part of me wants to tell you my hopes and dreams and wishes and aspirations. Part of me wants you to root for me.

Another part of me is terrified to be that open, and for tonight at least, that part will win out, but I hope that's not always the case.


P.S. I'd love to hear your comments. If I'm off base, tell me. If you think I'm on to something, try and add to it. There are a lot of you reading this (I see the numbers) and I want you to be a part of this community. All of us writing here are just throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks, but when something really resonates we want to know. I want to know. I hope to hear from you!

When he isn't trying to make fantasy football sound like something vaguely inspiring, Ben spends his time trying to decide whether he should start Antonio Brown or DeAngelo Williams. This isn't a joke. Someone needs to tell him what to do before Sunday. A lot of pride is riding on this. You can follow him on Twitter @BenHoward87 or email him at benjamin.howard87 [at]

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