COLUMN: On fantasy football and our times

This is my weekly column for the Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

On fantasy football and our times
By Aaron J. Brown

I begin today with a bit of braggadocio. That means smack talk. For the first time in eight years of participation I have won the “Super Bowl” in my for-profit, probably illegal fantasy football league. Never mind the illegality. It’s OK (wink wink, America) because I won. If people like me didn’t win we wouldn’t be creating jobs.

Because of my newfound success in this endeavor I decided to channel the journalistic portions of my mind by reviewing the full picture of my eight-year-old franchise “Junkyard Browns” in the league “Broncopower.”

Our league happens to be run by a Denver Broncos fan who used to sell ads at a paper I used to edit. The league is filled with a collection of guys who work at papers where this guy once or currently worked. Most of us have never met, we merely swear at each other on the internet. You know, for fun. Our wives don’t like us to swear and talk about football. We sure show them, without them knowing.

This year a group of football players each earning much more income than me, using physical skills that I actually lack the knowledge to dream of, went about their business. They scored touchdowns, threw passes, ran fast into other humans. When it was all done, nothing had changed, except that I and a few thousand other people had won our fantasy football championships, earning very temporary bragging rights and some sense that we really understand those guys who are strong and fast, unlike us.

A couple days after my Super Bowl win I decided to tabulate my win/loss record over my whole fantasy football career. Sometime a few years ago my league moved from one online hosting service to another. So I quickly tabulated my wins and losses from the recent years and then searched my e-mail for the links to our old league host.

Clicking on the link I noticed that the league hosting site had changed, becoming even more modern and fancy, certainly deserving of the fee that drove us off to the other site. When I searched to find our old league it was gone. This fantasy football league was lost to memory and, really, what that means is it was just plain lost. There will be no forensics. No deep scrub of hard drives. It is gone. And a deep, well known truth about this follows.

To admit that this league is gone is to admit that several hours of fantasy football draft preparation, dozens of hours of lineup wrangling, hundreds of hours of unnecessary ESPN watching were in vain. I have vague memories of how I did those years, but mostly limited to “I won some and I lost some.”

My fantasy football record now contains an asterisk, and the only drugs I took were beer, cheese and additional cheese.

Naturally, the proper conclusion here is to end this fantasy nonsense. I should just walk away, learn real football, spend my time coaching disadvantaged children how to chop block. That’s what I should do. But, to be reasonable, I’m the defending champion of my fantasy football league. How could I possibly walk away from that?  The time I’ve spent learning a system of smoke and mirrors online-only quasi-football speculation is worth thousands of dollars, or some similar value in masculine identity points to be cashed in at the man thing place.

To quit building a life on false foundations is to admit that some other probably more difficult pursuit lies ahead. Who would want to do that?

And isn’t that the story of our times? Watch out, boys, our playoff league starts today and I’m on a hot streak.

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range writer and community college instructor. Read more at his blog or in his book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.”

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