Fantasy football makes me a better man and a worse person.
Millennial male bonding is difficult in 2015. A lot of the staples of male bonding are defunct, irrelevant, unsustainable, or downright stupid. I don't always get to see my best guy friends, and when I do, we don't always find a respectful or productive activity to occupy our time.
It is no longer all right to objectify women at a strip club. Most of our dads took the cars to the dealership when something went wrong and millennial men can barely change the toilet paper, let along the oil in an automobile. We definitely can’t hunt, and shouldn’t try. I know how to swipe right on Tinder, but there is no way that I am using my Tinder finger to pull an actual trigger on an actual weapon. These days, it’s like Drake says – “Yeah, trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers.”
If catcalling women, fixing cars, and shooting shit are no longer relevant ways for millennial men to bond with one another, what can fill the void?
Thank god for fantasy football.
Try this – walk around, find any millennial male, and mutter “explicative Cam Newton, five explicative touchdowns.” I guarantee that you will have a 2-minute conversation about the intricacies of fantasy football.
Fantasy football is an activity that isn’t demeaning to woman (even though the NFL may be taking us there). Between the thousands of hot takes and random chance, anyone can participate and everyone can win. (Unless you play daily fantasy football – in which case everyone can play and only hedge fund managers win.)
But in traditional, yearlong leagues, there are draft parties and email threads that bring men together to bitch, banter, and bond. I am in leagues with best friends and dudes halfway across the country that I know now as “Gonky Kong” and “Watt me Whip, Watt me JJ.” I still play in a league with teachers – male and female – from the middle school where I used to teach.
With fantasy football, I am part of something. I am part of a group and I meet new friends. We talk and we laugh. Fantasy football makes me a more healthy man. I am no longer confined to lonely Sundays or empty inboxes.
Fantasy football also makes me a terrible person.
Marshawn Lynch is currently traveling to Philadelphia to see a specialist about an abdominal injury by Dr. William Meyers, a surgeon who specializes in sports hernias. And I hope the bulge associated with the hernia has punctured his skin and explodes – like a gallon of milk that should never have been placed in that plastic grocery bag for the 5 block walk back to your apartment.
After some time spent on Web MD, I now know that a sports hernia is a tear to the oblique abdominal muscles. You can read more about the medical mumbo jumbo, but the injury involves a bulge under the skin, which generates a lot of pain, near the groin. Really, this picture says it all.
Which is awful news for Mr. Lynch but fantastic freaking news for me.
You see, I have a player on my team named Thomas Rawls. You may not have heard of him because he is a rookie running back behind Marshawn Lynch on the depth chart.
Even though Rawls doesn’t have the name recognition or the Skittles commercials, he has performed like Lynch – in games when Lynch isn’t healthy. In those games, Rawls has scored 10, 22, and 37 fantasy points.
I added Rawls to my team off of something called the "waiver wire" – its like the used car lot for fantasy football players. For the most part, the waiver wire is filled with scrubs and back of the bench players that are closer to coaching high school football than starting for an NFL team.
Finding a starter who can get you 10, 20, or 30 fantasy points a week is like ordering $12 all-you-can-drink-mimosas. You would be happy with getting a free refill of orangey goodness, but they keep refilling your cup and you end up drinking 12 mimosas! Of course, you immediately decide in your champagne induced stupor that you’re coming back for bottomless mimosas every flipping Sunday!
The thing is – I can only enjoy my bottomless Thomas if Lynch is seriously injured, requires surgery, and can no longer play the game he loves.
To keep playing fantasy football and building healthy relationships with other millennial men means that I will continue to roll the dice with my humanity, my compassion, and my integrity. Do you draft Adrian Peterson with your first round pick, knowing that he beat the shit out of a child? Can you play the Cowboys defense, knowing Greg Hardy used the same amount of force on the last tackle that he used to hit his woman? Do you yell for Case Keenum to get up and walk it off or do you yell for a stretcher, when something like this happens?
Turns out the NFL has already joined the list of manly relics of generations past. The NFL, the head coach, and the training staff left him in the game. We teach kids not to be bystanders, but the NFL stood right by and put a player at risk. I'll be looking for a new hobby soon. As usual, being a better man is not as important as being a better person.