Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fantasy Final

If you're keeping score at home, which is the only way I ever do it, my fantasy football season came to a quiet end a couple weeks ago. Not with a bang, or even a whimper. It made the sound that balloons make when you let them go and they flutter about the room, emptying their airy contents in a flutter of a raspberry. All the things I thought I knew about professional football turned out to be wrong.
Coming down the home stretch into the playoffs, things don't look so very different from last year. Last year the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks ended up in the Super Bowl. That didn't turn out quite the way I had envisioned it. But that was real life. In the world of fantasy sports, I managed my way into the finals in both the leagues in which I played. Those contests, interestingly enough, ended in much of the same ignominy experienced by my favorite real-life franchise: second place. The trophy isn't as nice, but it did show that I was more than just a participant. A bystander. A silent witness. 
That's how this year felt: I was witnessing the opposite of what I believed should have been happening. I have learned over time that as much as I would like to influence the outcome of sporting events by staring hard at the screen or wearing a particular jersey on a particular day, I am not a full participant. I am watching events unfold. This year that turned out to be a pretty wacky place to be. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, two top running backs in previous years, spent more time in courtrooms than they did on football fields. This was the year that the NFL experimented with something new: a conscience. I could say that these suspensions had a major impact on the outcome of my season. I didn't draft either one. I did try and draft Peyton Manning in both of the leagues in which I play. I was sure that being aced out of Mister Manning's services was going to make me have to scramble to find better quarterback play from someone else. Why not Drew Brees? 
If you haven't been following professional football, none of that last paragraph makes any sense to you. Nor should it. It means that you probably spent the last four months talking to friends about a great many other things. Things that matter more than the individual performances of athletes who play for teams in cities I may have visited but know primarily through the location of their football stadium. There are plenty of folks out there who are enjoying a stress-free holiday, without thoughts of what might have been. It might have been for real. 

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