Football started back last week and that has me happy. I’m glad the yahoos that are football players and owners finally realized that they both needed each other to make money. But one thing I’m also excited about is fantasy football.
I find an incredible irony in fantasy football. Football is the consummate team sport, for no one player can carry the team. The running back, regardless of his talent, needs an offensive line in front of him. The quarterback needs the offensive line, and needs some quality receivers if he (or rather his team) is to succeed. The same thing goes with the defense.
Yet fantasy football is about individual stats (with the exception of a “team defense”). That’s the point. It highlights the individual so much so, that some “fantasy folks” (real folks, just a bit too much into fantasy football) could care NOTHING about an actual team. All they follow are individuals and their stats. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with this-in fact it can be helpful when the team you care about stinks. It is just ironic how this team sport has denigrated into such an individualistic endeavor.
I don’t think fantasy football (or fantasy anything) could have developed in the East. It certainly couldn’t have developed 50 years ago, regardless of the lack of technology. For better or worse, we in America quickly reduce things to the lowest common denominator: the self as opposed to the family or community or nation.
And still, fantasy football, further adding irony to the mix with its attention to individual stats, CAN end up fostering community. Of course there are those who spend hours and hours on fantasy football, getting lost into the cyberspace transactions of players. They probably need to get a life or a job or work harder at both.
But because men often need a “reason” to get together, fantasy football can become that reason. This year we are hosting a draft party together, as opposed to the on-line draft fiasco of last season where some folks couldn’t log in and so flooded my inbox. This will give folks who don’t know each other, or don’t know each other as well, an opportunity to get together. And at the end of the season, when the winner will get something from the losers, we’ll have another chance.
During the season, menfolk who didn’t know each other now have an opportunity (a “reason”) to interact with one another. Youth now have an opportunity to further build relationships with adults they are “playing” that week.
In the end, fantasy football, which reflects ardent individualism, can actually lead to community. Ironic? I think so. Or maybe the whole process of redeeming the culture is itself an ironic process, as we move from from one’s intention to Another’s intention…