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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 18, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsThe 'Stache Line

The ‘Stache Line: Fantasy football ruins allure of the game

Because people keep asking me the dreadful question of how my two fantasy-football teams are doing this year, I want to clear the speculation once and for all in this public space.

I have no idea.

I don’t know the players on my fantasy team because I wasn’t there to draft them. I don’t know which teams I’ve played against. I don’t know what the scores were for my matchups or what my record is this season. But I’m much happier for it.

Technically speaking, I’m a member of two fantasy-football leagues. I’m a former champion in the league I share with my high-school friends, and I joined another league with my sister and her friends this fall just so they could have enough teams. If I was still an active player, these engagements would require me to spend at least two to three hours a week checking the waiver wires and tinkering with my lineup.

The easy explanation for my dwindling interest in fantasy football would be to just say I don’t have the time for it. That would be true, but I think there are more reasons below the surface.

I find fantasy football stories, for instance, to be one of the more interminable conversation topics out there. Try to keep a friend who doesn’t play fantasy football interested past the words, “So I was playing so-and-so in fantasy this week and …” Chances are, I’m already thinking about my next meal at that point.

Most of all though, I just missed the basic emotional connections I had with watching football. It sounds self-destructive, but I missed the carnage that comes with only watching my beloved Buffalo Bills raise my hopes and then set fire to them in new, increasingly pathetic ways. It’s not fun trying to navigate the emotional ambiguity when the starting running back on my fantasy team scores a bunch of points by gashing the Bills apart for three rushing touchdowns.

Now that I’ve become a fantasy-football hermit, it almost feels like I’ve rediscovered some childlike wonder with my Sunday-football afternoons. I’m fully devoted to my Bills once again, and I can actually be surprised now when I hear an impressive statistic about a player. My brain is no longer a living spreadsheet.

And as it turns out, my new strategy, or lack thereof, is more successful than I imagined. I beat my sister’s team a couple weeks ago without setting my lineup. She was starting Aaron Rodgers and —

Just kidding. I’ll spare you the story.