Fantasy Football: Role Playing for the Huddled Masses

Most Friday nights, you’ll find me gaming with my friends.  There’s a group of six of us, and right now we’re neck deep in an Eberron campaign for Dungeons and Dragons.  Our gaming sessions are great fun, just a bunch of guys hanging out, busting each other’s balls, and generally being guys.  The game is almost secondary.

But we’re considered geeks because we play.  Shawna often tells her friends where I am with a deep note of shame in her voice.  I’ve been taunted (to varying degrees) by her, her family, and many of our friends.  I let this slide off my back, knowing I’m in good company.  Many of my favorite writers play RPG’s.  They’re not just a fun social tool, they can serve as a lesser creative outlet.  I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve plucked more than a couple of good story ideas from my Friday night gaming group.

Besides, a lot of the people who poke fun at me play fantasy football.

Maybe some of you are going Huh?  How do you connect those two?  Let me explain.

In Fantasy Football (keyword: Fantasy), a bunch of folks (almost always guys. I’ve seen actual women in gaming groups before) have a little draft of the players who will be playing in an upcoming season.  There are a few trades and such, and then they sit back and watch games and find out who has the best stats and such.  See, it’s role playing because they’re pretending they actually own a football team.

All the people I know in Austin who do the fantasy thing also poke fun at  “that fake wrestling stuff” every now and again.  Irony, it would appear, is not one of their strong suits.

Here’s a few fun anecdotes…

A month or so back, Shawna and I attended a party at our friends Kevin and Gina’s place.  Kevin Crane is a fun guy, the only true hippy I’ve ever met, and probably the biggest Cowboys fan I know.  I’ve come to this conclusion by witnessing his extensive collection of Dallas jerseys, which he can always be found wearing one of on gameday (interesting grammar there, huh?).  Now, not once have I showed up for gaming to find Randy, Chris, or Ben in a suit of chainmail, but that’s beside the point.  During this party, I decided (after my fifth Dos Equis or so) that I needed to use the bathroom.  As I walked across the living room, Dos Equis numero seis in my hand, I see Kevin, Shawna’s dad, and a few other guys hovering over a large piece of posterboard, one that was covered in all sorts of charts.  I hear Kevin say, “Danny, you should ask Nate.”  I hear a “Good point.”

“Hey, Nate.  You want in our fantasy football league.”

A laughed so hard, I think I peed a little.

It wasn’t just that they asked me, it was that one of them had taken great care in preparing this gigantic fantasy football scorecard. I’m having trouble thinking of the last time my own gaming group has taken such meticulous care to create a prop.  The one time it happened, it was a guy who joined us for one short month.  He wrote out a short journal and tossed it in a full sink to duplicate a journal that had been lost at sea.

But remember, fantasy football ain’t dorky, kids!

Last week, I heard of what I can only call “fantasy football, stage two.”  It was, apparently, draft day at Shawna’s parents’ house.  I cannot verify that everyone wore jerseys, but I’m willing to bet more than a few did.  I heard about the numerous spreadsheets and statistical analyses my friends had created.  Reports describe a living room awash in player data, full of long silences, punctuated by exchanges such as…

“I choose . . . Tiki Barber.”

“Ooh!  Damn good choice!”

I can only attribute their continued to survival to my mother-in-law’s neverending patience.

So poke fun at us admitted gamers.  I hope you enjoy it.  It probably makes you feel better about yourselves.  Just remember that you’re pretty lame, too, and we don’t play dress up when we get together.