We all know the holiday season is a relationship stressor.
And major family events can certainly be trying for couples and/or parents to navigate.
But, with last weekend’s full slate of NFL games, we’re now in the four-month window that is among the most challenging for even supremely patient mates to tolerate: fantasy football season.
Time was — say, a decade … a decade and a half ago — that being a serious NFL fan meant dedicating just your Sunday afternoons to watching a couple or three games on TV.
Maybe you simply rooted for your favorite team(s), or perhaps trusted your knowledge enough to place a modest, though well-thought-out, wager on the point-spread favorite or underdog, in order to manufacture a rooting interest.
But, by Sunday evening, you were ready to return to your everyday life (family, friends, work) and not give the following Sunday’s games much thought until, you know, the following weekend.
Back when boomers were growing up and the term “football widow” was first coined, it was a sardonic description of the wife’s temporary state while hubby was planted in his La-Z-Boy during autumn Sundays.
But, oh, how online fantasy sports leagues have changed the viewing habits, rooting dynamics and — perhaps most importantly — the time commitment and resultant real-life “collateral damage” that being an NFL follower has had for the nation’s some 30 million (mostly male) fantasy football players.
Everyone’s an expert
There’s a wide array of formats and rules for the Internet’s innumerable fantasy leagues. Some of the leagues require entry fees and reward prize money. Others are just among friends/acquaintances/colleagues/online strangers — and are merely for “bragging rights.”
What all the leagues have in common, though, is they enable the participant to:
- Assemble a “roster” of actual NFL players.
- Be the virtual “general manager” of this “team.”
- Name the team’s “starters” every week who, via their game-day statistical production, will (or won’t) accumulate “points.”
- Update the roster, within the league’s parameters, on a daily or weekly, basis to account for real-life injuries, subpar performances, etc.
- Compete against fellow league members, thus showcasing one’s pro football knowledge/acumen in a public forum.
The importance of the final bullet point can’t be overstated.
For fantasy players (of which I’m not — and never have been), the confluence of one’s competitive instincts, desire to have opinions confirmed and need to avoid public embarrassment often result in spending enormous amounts of time online.
Tracking injury reports.
Analyzing current/future factors that may influence your roster, as well as those of fellow league members.
In other words, doing what NFL front-office folks do.
According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the average fantasy player devotes around 17 hours a week to following his sport of choice.
And the ancillary businesses related to fantasy leagues are a cumulative multibillion-dollar-a-year industry.
There’s even an FXX network sitcom, “The League” (which aired on FX its first four seasons), that revolves around a group of friends obsessed with their fantasy football league.
Helping players keep fantasy football in proper perspective is an issue of great concern to mental-health professionals
“When this — or any — activity becomes excessive, that’s when it can begin to interfere with your real-life relationships,” says West Palm Beach psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle.
Words to take seriously, fantasy football players, so you don’t fumble away your connection to loved ones this season.