Fantasy Sports: Heroin for Nerds?

In my defense, he seemed so normal when I first met him. But perhaps I was simply blinded by his amazing ability to fix my Soviet-era toilet.

I was still living in a small town in Crimea when a rumor went round the Peace Corps Ukraine gossip mill that a new American guy was being placed in a village not far from me.

When I was eventually introduced to said new-boy, Matt, at a mutual friend’s birthday party I remember finding him rather attractive and seemingly normal (a huge boon in Peace Corps friendships). Matt and I laughed over drinks, and I left the party thinking he was a pretty nice guy that I wouldn’t mind hanging out with again.

Cut to several weeks later, when tragedy struck and my brand new (well, new to me, anyways) indoor toilet broke. I tried everything to fix it, and was about to throw my hands up in despair when my cell phone buzzed with a random text from Matt saying hi.

The rest, as they say, is Tolstoy-lovin’ history.

First game of Matt's Ukrainian Little League

It’s not like I didn’t know Matt liked baseball before we moved back to America. He started a full-fledged little league in his Ukrainian village, after all.

I just never realized the full extent the words “my fantasy team” would have on my life until very recently. As a previous post mentioned, cohabitation does have its inevitable ups and downs.

So at first I thought the fantasy-thing was cute, like a little hobby between him and his closest guy friends. That was before all the championship trophies, trades, and nights watching his spirits rise and fall with Justin Upton’s batting average.

But I have since come to realize that fantasy sports are bigger than just a love of [insert boring sport here]. It’s about rediscovering the little boy or girl inside you that dreamed you might make it to the Big Leagues. It’s about recapturing that feeling of scoring the winning touch down, run, or goal. It’s about holding onto your youth/glory days…ignoring at all costs the receding hairlines and increasing waistlines.

And because of these evocative elements, fantasy sports are highly competitive and addictive.

If you’ve ever had the following argument with a loved one, it’s time to accept the fact you or someone you love might just be a fantasy junkie: $30?! No, don’t try to tell me you only care so much because you have $30 riding on the end of the season. You aren’t shunning the love of family and friends for your computer screen for a measly thirty bucks.

So practice saying it with me, “Your addiction to stupid fake sports teams has affected our friendship/relationship in the following way…”

Top ten warning signs of the reality-impaired:

1. You watch “your” games on the TV, but also have your computer/smart phone/iPad opened up to your fantasy team’s statistics. (Bonus points if you can’t resist looking at the computer to see what will happen before the televised delay.).
2. You check your fantasy team’s stats during your wedding reception.
3. You join three or more fantasy leagues for the SAME sport.
4. You know more about your friends’ fantasy lives than about their actual lives.
5. You get drunk and pick fights over fantasy players, not girls.
6. You tell your significant other you are stressed out because you “have a big week coming up in your league.”
7. You plan your vacations around the league’s playoffs.
8. You worry you “over-manage.”
9. You create alliances, as if you are trying to win Survivor instead of a virtual game.
10. You have a Sophie’s Choice moment whenever your fantasy player has to play against your hometown (real-life) favorite team.

If you would like to add your own “time for a fantasy intervention” moment, please visit the comments section below.

And special thanks to the guys of the Neow Fantasy Baseball League for ruining my life…erm I mean, providing the helpful inspiration behind this piece.

– Lindsay

About Lindsay Golder

Freelance writer, book-fiend, lover of shamefully bad films regularly featured on TBS or TNT.

9 Responses to “Fantasy Sports: Heroin for Nerds?”

  1. I know nothing about fantasy sports teams and I hope I never do. I am a lover of fantasy novels, but I do know where they end and real life begins. Good luck with that…..

  2. I laughed out loud when I read your top ten warning signs.. This is my boyfriend a whole bunch of other guys who are the exact same way. I may just have to post this to Facebook because it rings just so true!

  3. I forwarded this to my boyfriend and told him it described him perfectly. Great post!

  4. I take issue with the reason why we (guys) are drawn towards fantasy sports. For me, fantasy baseball isn’t really about trying to recapture glory days on the athletic field. It feels much different to hit a HR in real life than to watch you fantasy player do it (although watching a live game in which your fantasy player hits a HR is pretty fucking sweet).

    I think it’s more about the competition of a battle of wits among your friends. The players are like stock commodities in which their value can rise and fall as you try to figure out which ones are going up and which ones are going down and you buy and sell (trade/draft) them accordingly. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with friends and an excuse to get drunk at winter meetings/drafts (and another reason to watch even more baseball of course).

    *Disclaimer – I may or may not be the subject of the article.

    • I’m with you, it’s just like modern chess on a different field.

    • *Disclaimer: HR = home runs.

      If I have to translate your fantasy writing for our readers, you’ve just proved my point! That being said, thanks “sommerma” for putting up with me while I publish your idiosyncrasies all over the world wide web.

      But remember: no matter what the lovely Anne says…you are no Bobby Fisher, sir.

    • I agree with Sommerma’s analysis, however I still think fantasy is lame.

      Those of you who know me would probably chuckle at hearing me say this, knowing how big of a sports fan I am. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate sports more for the social aspect of it. I enjoy getting together with friends and family to cheer on our city’s or college’s team for pride’s sake. It’s fun to compete with other cities and colleges (or countries!) over something. However, in the end, we’re just cheering for total strangers to play a meaningless game. This is why I try not to get too excited about the individual athletes, but rather cheer for the teams as a whole.

      Also, I should add that as a big sports fan I don’t enjoy fantasy because I wouldn’t want to cheer for anyone but my team. Plus, I’d probably stack my fantasy team with players from my favorite team and get smashed anyway.

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