Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Last night I participated in my first ever fantasy football draft.  I figure that if I am going to write about contemporary sports I need to become aware of something that has, in recent years, been on only the periphery of my consciousness.

It would be difficult for any sports fan not to have fantasy sports on at least the periphery of one's consciousness. There are dedicated articles in newspapers and, for my taste, far too many sports programs solely about the fantasy game.  At one time it was an anomaly, but now it is not, to see fans in sports bars with laptops set up. They are not checking their e-mails--they are seeing how their fantasy teams are doing during the course of a Sunday.  And they get excited about aspects of the game that make no sense unless you are one of the tribe.

It is that which has put me off of Fantasy Sports.  I like the game itself. As I wrote in the Madness of March, the key to the game is the game, not the spread.  I do comment at how many people in las vegas--including myself--can get into watching a contest with an eye on the spread, but I make the point I hope that one need not have a wager on a game to "make it interesting." The game itself is interesting. If it was not, then there would not be a lucrative sports business based on the games.  On Saturday the 3rd, there was college football on television from 730 am in the east until close to midnight.  That is due to the inherent draw of the competition.

But, not for the first time, I digress.  Back to my first ever fantasy football draft.

I had been urged  by my nephew and niece to join a fantasy sports league last year.  I had no interest. This year the league went into its second season and I, reluctantly--more to be less of a party pooper than anything else--joined up.  It is a Zaremba league. My nephew is the commissioner and "owns" a team. My niece owns another.  My cousin, his daughter, his son, his daughter's husband, my brother, and I make up the 8 team league. No doubt the computers are befuddled at how there can be so many Zarembas in one place at one time.

But we were all there, well virtually, last night. The draft was at 7 pm.  My brother with his typical considerate patience called me up, me the Scrooge of fantasy football, to explain the process so I would not be a stick in the mud come 7 pm.  I had attended a fantasy draft previously and blogged about it a couple of years back with the kind of smirky disdain of someone who believes his love of sport is above it all. (This coming from a guy who might stand on one leg and tap my fingers in exactly the same order before a field goal to give it good luck).

So, for twenty minutes we did a mock draft and I got the hang of it.  As the clock on the computer wound down for our Zaremba league to commence, I got kind of excited.  By the time it hit zero, I was into it.  ESPN who I guess sponsors these drafts, has their act together. When it comes time for you to draft there is a bell that goes off. There is a process for dragging a player from a list onto your team. Each player is listed in order of some expert's prediction of who would be the best player to select at any one time.  It's all very well organized.  There is even a place where you can write smart alecky remarks to your competitors like "Nice pick goofball." Each owner has two minutes, a commissioner's decision regarding the length, on how long you have to make a pick.  We had a "snake" draft which means that once the 8th team picks of the 8 team Zaremba league, then that team picks again, then the 7th, the 6th, the 5th etcetera.

It took an hour to finish the draft. It was fun.  I was into it.  I stocked my team with Patriots which, if you knew what you were doing, was probably not the wisest way to go since only so many Patriots can score in any one game.  But so what.  I kind of get it now.  It will be interesting to see if my affection for the Patriots is diverted at all as I follow the fantasy league.

My love for sports will remain about the game itself.  But I am kind of interested in how the Maroons (this Zaremba team) will fare come Sunday.

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