There is no question that fantasy football is an ever-growing entity. You can't have a single NFL gameday go by without hearing the words "That guy is on my fantasy team" at least a dozen or so times. And why not? Fantasy football is highly entertaining and gives you the opportunity to pay attention to players and teams that you usually could care less about. It's highly addictive, teaches fans strategy and has grown in popularity so much that there is even an FX comedy series dedicated to the mania.
But my question is at what point did fantasy football become more important to fans than their own actual real-life teams?
Let's take a look at what I mean after the jump...
For years, people have been playing fantasy football. I even remember playing in a league my junior year of high school back in 1995. That was before the internet exploded and the craze really took off. Now, you are looked at rather inquisitively if you aren't in a league or three. If you don't know how many points a pick six earns your fantasy defense, well, you're just one odd individual. You get the point. There are so many users and leagues now that it would be impossible to estimate how many Americans play fantasy football.
But I've noticed something at Texans games this year. We all know how much the team has struggled on defense and this has led to some monster games by players of the visiting team. So when Thomas Jones broke a touchdown run late in the 4th quarter this past Sunday, Reliant Stadium fell quiet. Except for one ass clown two seats down from me, who was jumping up and down and cheering like crazy. After the Cowboys debacle, visiting fans no longer get to me. I am all for cheering for your team, even if it is as a guest in a visiting stadium.
There was just one snag in that thought. This guy was decked out from head to toe in Texans gear. What the hell was this guy's problem? As the eyes of hatred reached him from the dozens of pissed off fans around him, he simply pumped his fist and said "Hell yeah! Thomas Jones is on my fantasy team!!!" That earned a facepalm from me. This was the point where I expected most around him to say, "Who cares?" But that didn't happen. Almost every single one of them who were jeering him simply nodded their heads and sat down.
Are you serious?!
Has it really reached the point where guys would rather their fantasy teams did better than the teams they pay their hard earned money to go see and support? Is earning bragging rights over their buddies more important than the teams that they pour their heart and soul into? Because, if so, I just don't get it.
I realize that some leagues play for money. I know this, and that is a good reason to get excited. But a large number of these guys play in leagues that are free to play. They play against their friends and no money is ever exchanged, just bragging rights. To get that excited that your team is on the cusp of losing a home game because one of your fantasy players just got six points? Well, like I said, it is a mystery to me how that kind of fan thinks.
For the first time since 2004, I'm not in a league this season. Just too many other things to do, really. And I don't want to be one of those fans who are in the stadium and paying more attention to their phone looking up stats rather than watching the game I just paid to see. It isn't like my iPhone could get any service in Reliant anyways. Am I right, AT&T users?
In short, I know we have a lot of fantasy football guys here. I just want to know at what point did any of you possibly find more elation out of your fantasy team doing well over the Texans doing well? Do you really find the same joy and jubilation when Matt Cassel throws a 42 yard touchdown against the Texans because he is on your fantasy team, over Derrick Ward busting a 38 yard touchdown run and not caring because you didn't pick him up before the game?
If so, that is a logic I just don't understand...