by Odeen Domingo
OK. Pop quiz, hot shot.
What is the most evil thing to happen to the NFL?
The Oakland Raiders?
The Minnesota Vikings’ good ship lollipop?
No, but close.
The Arizona Cardinals?
I said evil. Not depressing.
The most evil thing to happen to America’s sport, my friend, is fantasy football.
It’s so evil it stops just short of tripping your blind grandmother. Or bringing a deaf person to the orchestra. Or yelling “Speech! Speech! Speech!” when your mute co-worker wins an award.
You get the idea.
Or, or buying winter gloves for your quadriplegic friend.
OK, that’s enough. Now on to sports. And the Adolf Hitler-like game called fantasy football, where a group of people form a league of “fantasy” teams that draft real NFL players from real NFL teams. And those “fantasy” teams earn points based on their drafted players’ performances in real NFL games.
Sounds harmless, doesn’t it?
Yup, as harmless as a 102-year-old with a driver’s license.
But it’s not harmless. Fantasy football spoils the very root of why Americans love the NFL. Football is like “Charades” – the ultimate team game. You need every player on your team to do their job in order to succeed.
(Unless you’re name is Michael Vick.)
A quarterback cannot throw touchdowns unless the offensive line in front of him blocks and the receivers down the field get open and catch passes.
Football is such a team sport that players’ faces aren’t even exposed to the public, unlike basketball and baseball players who can show off their mugs and moves after slam dunks or home runs. Identical helmets cover the faces of a kid’s favorite NFL players, forming one indistinguishable team.
But fantasy football has changed the “team aspect” of the sport. Fantasy team owners draft individual players usually from different teams, putting emphasis on individual statistics and rooting for individual players instead of teams.
People stop salivating over a blue-collar linebacker’s hard hit that tears a player a new asshole and start cheering a receiver’s touchdown dance that makes him look like one.
It’s just a matter of time before a person who owns a fantasy team no longer cares about the NFL team he grew up worshiping.
It’s like investing in a porn movie and paying no mind that your girlfriend is in it.
A person will succumb to the fantasy gods, paying sole attention to individual players on his fantasy team and paying no mind whether his actual NFL team wins.
So let’s say a New York Giants fan is watching his team play against the Denver Broncos. Of course, this fan wants the Giants to win. But Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer is on his fantasy team, and he is forced to root against his Giants so that Plummer can throw at least two touchdowns.
And how can he root for Giants running back Tiki Barber to play well when the other fantasy owner he is challenging that week has Barber on his team?
It’s like buying something for your kid brother’s birthday but hoping he doesn’t like it so he could give it to you.
Fantasy football’s roots come from rotisserie or fantasy baseball, which started long before the Internet made fantasy games as popular as eating.
But unlike football, baseball is a statistics-driven, individualized sport.
Baseball, which was America’s pastime, is a sport where known racists are elected into its Hall of Fame and gamblers aren’t. A sport where players tested for steroids are cheered once they come back from suspension. A sport where fans bring binoculars to the games even though there are no cheerleaders.