Girding for the gridiron

Girls' fantasy football league trophy

My Pigtails & Pigskins championship trophy!

My fellow ladies (oops, a little bit of an oxymoron there), perhaps you’ve noticed the changes that are afoot. Summer is drawing to a close. The school supply section at Target beckons. Myriad official forms lurk in desperate piles. Your offspring clamor for the latest and greatest in licensed-character backpacks. Faced with these hurdles, your head begins to spin. So I address you today with an important query: Are you ready for some foooootball?

Yes, it is true. It’s been a long, slow road since the regular season wrapped up in January, but now we can unleash our passion once again. We will take up our laptops, clutch our mugs of coffee, and venture forth into hours of research on The games have started, and now must we begin that Sacred Rite of Late Summer: the Fantasy Football draft. Season starts Sept. 8!

If you’ve never played Fantasy Football, first let me gasp in horror. Now allow me to share some excellent reasons why you really must consider participating in this giant time suck fun hobby.

Live draft. This is the best part of each season (other than winning, of course). It is a ritual in which all of the members in a Fantasy league get together and make their player selections.

The order in which members can make their picks (the “draft order”) is randomly selected by computer. Those drafting, in turn, can randomly select which colleagues to snarl at throughout the draft for both real and imagined offenses. Choosing a player whom someone else was intending to draft — “He’s MINE!” — can certainly be included among such transgressions.

League members who can’t attend the draft in person can participate online via the “trash talk” aspect of the draft platform. This is an excellent feature that allows everyone to share in the joy of the cutthroat competition. Live drafts often involve food in some capacity, too, simply adding to the appeal. After all, where else can one comfortably hurl insults at friends while consuming mass quantities of homemade goodies?

Conversation piece. From September through January, you never have to worry about standing in an awkward silence when thrust into a group of people you don’t really know. As long as you have a Fantasy team, you have something to chat about. “Is Brady still suspended?” is an excellent opening, one that will undoubtedly evolve into a lively debate about the inflation parameters of footballs. Or you could bring up a general concern you have over your looming bye weeks. You may not, however, want to discuss the status of your tight end unless it’s already been established that you are talking about football.

Shopping. This is a wonderful way to satisfy that insatiable urge to acquire stuff. (You know, that need to buy that results in leaving Target with several cartfuls of items when you went in for “just one thing?” Perhaps that’s just me.)

Anyway, Fantasy Football provides that chance to get new things because you can dump players who disappoint you and pick up new ones. These new players can provide a glimmer of hope that maybe you can still be the winner of your league in spite of the way CJ Anderson continues to ruin everything (or perhaps that’s just me again).

See, players not selected during the original draft hang out on the waiver wire. If a league member decides one of her players isn’t performing up to par, she can drop that guy and pick up someone else off of this waiver wire. It’s just like shopping, but it’s free.

Being forced to watch Lions games. If you live in metro Detroit, you’ve likely been subjected to this at some point. It’s especially an issue on Thanksgiving when you’ve just enjoyed a wonderful, turkey-filled meal and then … ugh. The Lions are on. Cue the indigestion. But when you play Fantasy Football, chances are good that you have at least one player on the opposing team, and now you have something to cheer for! It’s also possible that you were stuck with Matthew Stafford as your quarterback and you think you might be able to root for him. If this is the case, I offer sincere condolences and can only pat you on the back from afar as he is creamed by the other team’s defensive line.

Bonding with children. If you have children of football-watching age, Fantasy is way for you to commiserate over your frustrations and failures together. Our family has its own league that’s just for the parents, kids and a few trusted family friends. It provides a safe environment in which youth can learn and grow in the ways of offense, defense and special teams — areas that are sadly overlooked in most school classrooms.

If your children are competitive, you may want to have extra Kleenex on hand when their quarterback throws numerous incompletions, or for when their star running back is benched for being a doofus. Brace yourself for hearing more exclamations of “WHY?” and “NO!” than usual (Then again, it’s quite possible that you won’t even notice because you will be shrieking right along with them).

You may also learn interesting things about your progeny that you never would’ve guessed, such as an irrational yet stubborn need to absolutely, positively own three kickers. It is a unique challenge, as a parent, to guide children through their team ownership. Fantasy Football offers so much in the way of teachable moments. How are you not doing this yet?

According to the internet, Fantasy Football was invented by a man named Wilfred “Bill” Winkenbach in 1963. He and some friends came up with the idea of selecting (“drafting”) certain pro football players to play imaginary games against each other. Their scoring system evolved over the years into the complicated beast it is today, and math dummies like yours truly all over the world are thankful that computers can now make the calculations for us. At the click of a button, we can know which players caught how many passes, ran how many yards, scored how many touchdowns and fumbled how many times. We instantly know which of our players did a good job for our team and which ones need to be benched in the future. Instant gratification is a wonderful thing.

Thank you, Bill, for your marvelous creation. Because of you, we are definitely ready for some football.

Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and Fantasy Football enthusiast.

1 Response to “Girding for the gridiron”

  1. 1 Anonymous September 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the great overview! Let the games begin!

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