Growing up, I learned about fantasy football from trips to the barbershop. Shout out John Snow (no, not Jon Snow.). It was probably late elementary or early middle school, and it was still a relatively unknown thing at the time. Heck, dial-up made anything on the internet an all day activity. But after hearing about fantasy football for many years, the time finally came that my friends wanted to play.
The night of the draft came. I had to fight everyone in my family to keep them off the phone because I needed the internet for the rest of the night. And it began, www.sports.yahoo.com/fantasy. Had I done any research? No. Did I understand the game or strategy? Nope. Did I have a plan? Ha. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely! Despite my best efforts–I only made 15 transactions that whole season, and that included two trades–the season went astonishingly well. I finished 1st during the regular season and lost in the championship. I. WAS. HOOKED.
This leads me to the first lesson of fantasy sports: fantasy sports includes some luck. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to win. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll always win , and that makes the game great. This is especially true for football. Baseball and basketball have longer seasons, which means larger sample sizes–where luck still matters–just less so.
The second lesson is to have fun. This fall (hopefully) will mark the 14th season with that original league of mine plus or minus a few managers from the original league. Fantasy football is a great way to reconnect with friends from all walks of life. I play in leagues with two sets of hometown friends, one league with college friends, and another with friends from graduate school. It’s a great way to stay connected. Once you find a core group, stick with it. The camaraderie you will develop over time is almost as good as the game itself. Almost.
The third lesson: for every person who wins on the two yards lost on the final kneel-down on Monday night, there’s also a loser. And depending on who the winner and loser are in your league, there may be eight or 10 others who win or lose, too. The winner goes to bed a little easier than normal, but the loser…well, the loser musters all their strength to drag themselves up the stairs to bed. When they wake up the next morning, the loss hits them like an anvil. Winning is great, but it pales in comparison to not losing.
If you’re anything like me, whether this is your first fantasy football season or your 14th, it certainly won’t be your last.