The Reality of Fantasy

“4 those sincerely concerned, I’m doing ok & plan 2 B back by opening day. 4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick” -Arian Foster (via Twitter, @ArianFoster)

Fantasy football is like planking, Justin Bieber, and the Dougie all rolled into one. It is the biggest thing on the planet, and if you don’t believe me, just check the numbers.

It’s estimated that roughly 19 million people partake in fantasy football each year. Nineteen million! Try and put that number in perspective. If you’re having trouble grasping the sheer magnitude of this many human beings doing any one thing, consider this: if fantasy football were its own country, it would be the 60th-largest country in the world, bigger than such nations as the Netherlands, Greece, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, and the list goes on. And God only knows how wealthy a nation of fantasy footballers could possibly be.

Everybody and their mom is seemingly affected by this “sport.” If you don’t play it yourself, chances are you know someone who does. Perhaps it’s a coworker, a friend, a relative, or maybe even your significant other. In the latter scenario, you may often find yourself wishing that fantasy football would die. It won’t. So you can stop wishing and start tolerating its existence. Treat it like you would Tyler Perry or George Lopez. You might not like it, but, well, that’s just too effing bad.

Fantasy football, in a word, is huge. And it keeps getting bigger. To the point that real, live athletes like Houston Texans’ running back Arian Foster are affected by its presence.

You see, Foster tweaked his hamstring in a preseason game against San Francisco on Saturday night. He left the contest and wasn’t heard from until Sunday morning, when he posted the quote at the beginning of this article on his Twitter account. If we’ve learned anything about Arian Foster in the wake of this injury, it’s that he isn’t a fan of fantasy football.

While I can respect Foster’s opinion — and I do — I choose to disagree with his assessment of the situation. Respectfully, of course. Well…respectfully enough, I suppose. Actually, it might not be that respectful. But whatever. Hear me out.

Arian, dude, I’m sorry about your injury, but you are an idiot. Bashing fantasy football players is essentially the same thing as bashing the majority of your fans.

You jump on the people who care about your stats and before you know it, all you’re left with is a collection of Twitter hoochies who want to virtually suck your dick over DM. I realize that doesn’t sound like a horrible thing, but it is. Trust me. Those girls only want your cash, your seed, and your current level of fame. Beyond that, you mean nothing to them.

Think about the impact of the statement you’ve made. You single-handedly insulted 19 million people in fewer than 140 characters. That’s impressive. Most guys can’t do that. But somehow, you’ve managed.

Fantasy football isn’t some cult or fly-by-night fad, either. The people that participate are normal (mostly normal) individuals who happen to enjoy sports and competition. A lot like real athletes in that regard, minus all the physical tools to get the job done on the field.

On top of that, Foster was made popular because of his prowess as a fantasy football Hall of Famer.

Ask the average American to give a synopsis on Arian Foster. Most won’t even know who he is. But ask a fantasy football player about the 25-year-old University of Tennessee alum and he or she will overwhelm you with knowledge. To those who know of him, Foster’s reputation is staked on one season of fantasy domination and nothing more.

Look. I get it. When you’re hurt, you want people to care. And in wanting people to care, the last thing you want to hear about are stats, numbers, or business in general. But that’s what this is. It’s business. It’s not personal, Arian. Just business.

There are millions of people out there who have a vested interest — financial, or otherwise — in your health and well-being. Fact is, most of those people don’t know you, won’t know you, and may not care to know you. To them, you are a name on a page, a pixelated image on a TV screen, a commodity. You are larger than life because you strap on pads, make tons of money, and play a game for a living. You may be human, but to many you’re more than that. You are a celebrity, a figure, a brand.

You have the wherewithal to be put on a pedestal, fair or unfair, above the common man. There are pros and cons of this lofty status. One con is that your emotions lose their importance. People don’t care what you think or feel. They want what they want from you and nothing more. Including real production for fantasy points. And yes, that sounds harsh. But sadly, it’s the truth.

We are a society of competitors. We want to win, we want to be successful, we want to outdo the next guy. This is why we do something as stupid as devote ourselves to fantasy football. Because we can’t get enough competition in our everyday lives. It makes no sense and all sorts of sense simultaneously. It’s the world we live in.

Likewise, this is why we classify human beings (like Arian Foster) as commodities, because they directly impact our ability to achieve the success we so desire.

Is it fair? Not necessarily.

Is it reality? Most definitely.


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