Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pick one league

I love to play fantasy football, that’s been well-established, and I’m certainly not the only one. However, I, unlike many other fantasy football junkies, have made the conscious decision to play in only one league.

There are many reasons for this, the last being time commitment. I’ve done the multiple-league thing, and it just got confusing and each week I was having multiple ethical dilemmas (no one needs that). It’s like filling out more than one NCAA bracket – it just isn’t right. You need to pick your one team and cheer for them.

The biggest reason I don’t play on more than one team is because of what my friend Steve was going through on Sunday. He has Adrian Peterson on his team in one league, and was playing against him in another league. So, do you cheer for him to do well, or to tank? In either case, one of your teams suffers. During the game he was torn – when Peterson scored, he jumped up in celebration, then remembered that he was also playing against him, and slumped down in his seat. I couldn’t help laughing at his visible internal struggle. He said he hoped Peterson would get “between 10-12 points, that way it helps me a bit when he’s on my team, and doesn’t hurt me too much in the other league.”

Peterson ended up with 26 points.

Fantasy has done a lot of good things for the NFL and its fans – people who play fantasy are now much more invested in the games they may have previously seen as throw-aways, and they are more likely to watch more games than they would have before fantasy sports hit the mainstream.

On the flip side, fantasy football (or baseball, hockey, etc.) has created a constant internal struggle in fans. Say you’re from Indiana and you’re a Peyton Manning fan – he’s the signal caller for your hometown team, so you always cheer for him to have a big game. But then, what happens when your fantasy team is playing against the team who has Manning as their quarterback? Fans like to say that – no matter what – they cheer for their team to win. But in that particular instance, you start thinking, “Well, if the Colts can win and Manning just plays mediocre, then it’s even better.” No fan should be torn like that.

But let’s add more to the situation. You’re that Indy native. Manning is your hometown team’s quarterback, and he’s also your starter in Fantasy League A. Oh, but in Fantasy League B, your quarterback is Matt Shaub and you’re playing against Peyton Manning. Now what? You need Manning to get points in the real game, and in Fantasy League A because your top running back and wide receiver are on by. But, if he gets too many points, then Fantasy League B will suffer, since there is now way that Shaub is going to match Manning in points this season.

Don’t you want to avoid that? Pick one fantasy league to throw yourself into. Sure, your chances of winning the league diminish when you only play in one league, but the thrill of victory will also be that much sweeter.

As for filling out multiple NCAA brackets – don’t be that guy. When you fill out more than one, not only do you forget who you picked in what pool, but it makes you the lame guy who doesn’t think he can accurately pick games, and has to rely on luck and odds. Yeah, you might win one of the seven pools you’re in, but considering how much money you had to front (assuming you were betting, which of course you aren’t since it’s not legal outside of Vegas), you really didn’t win much at all. And all you really did was lose your sport-fan cred.

Pick one team, pick one bracket, and stick with it. Stand behind your picks and lower the chance you have to cheer against your home team players. And when it comes down to it – always pick your real-life team over fantasy.

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