SEPTEMBER 2008 – NO. 26
A Fantasy Sports Injury
I figured fantasy sports were a passing novelty. I joined my husband's first fantasy football league to test the minimal participation theory that I previously applied to the NCAA basketball brackets. My high rank at the end of the season was not sufficient to dissuade my spouse who fared less well despite his attentions to the weekly lineup. He countered that the hobby provided a needed respite from the intellectual pursuits of a Proust scholar. Perhaps it is a fitting pastime for someone whose life work revolves around In Search of Lost Time. It was as though he smoked a cigarette or two when out for drinks, a bad habit that barely registered in our daily lives.
Until Fantasy Baseball. This season, with two fantasy baseball players in the house (husband and his brother), there's more games and vastly more management activity. Is this how Joe Torre's wife felt? Like many addictions their descent into fantasy madness initially went undetected. Conversations about illnesses, freak injuries (a pillow?), and births led me to believe they were conveying concern for real acquaintances, not the professional athletes they virtually managed. Any time of day might be interrupted with an exclamation worthy of a glass shattering or a long lost friend at the door, expressions attributable to the real time rise and fall of their fantasy scores. They pored over number filled laptop screens like freshly minted Wall Street traders late into the night.
We took our own mid-season break with a backpacking trip in the Rockies. Here we'd regain that old west, campfire story feeling. And in a way we did, forced by storm into a rickety miner's cabin with a bourbon-toting Texan. After a few days away from the 24/7 sports media diet, we talked about stars, flowers, and mosquitoes. Walking out of the wilderness along a creek straight out of a Coors commercial, I overhead them discussing when they should send out invitations. Had this time away from electronic lives inspired a real gathering? The invites were for prospective members of their fantasy football league.
What is the allure of fantasy sporting? The closest I've come to the phenomenon was during a summer working near Gillette Stadium when I fantasized about encountering Tom Brady. Why does this online hobby feel so different from a Wednesday night softball league? I would cringe when a woman would say she's a golfing widow (as a girl on the boy's team it seemed anathema to be identified by a husband's hobby). Standing beside that tumbling creek, weeks away from fantasy football, hundreds of miles from a professional venue, I became a Fantasy Sports Widow.
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