Confessions of a Fantasy Football Addicted Woman
It’s 1pm on a Sunday in November. I’m wearing my decade old New England Patriots’ jersey with “Brady” written on the back. I earnestly cannot remember the last time I washed this jersey. I turn my television on. I prepare my iPad and laptop. I send a text to my friend, who is also my fantasy football opponent this week: “Your team is garbage. I didn’t think it was possible for you to pick a worse team than last year, but you’ve done it. Congratulations.” She replies, “Suck it, Hogan.”
The games begin. I am tracking the progress of all the players on my roster. The roller coaster of emotions I feel watching these world class athletes ranges from pure joy to all-encompassing rage. My ESPN Fantasy Football app doesn’t update as fast as I need it to, which causes me to have a near mental breakdown. Suddenly, I realize I’m screaming at said television, shoveling buffalo chicken dip into my face at an alarming rate, and I am alone.
It hits me like a ton of bricks: I am the world’s most annoying fantasy football addict. But how did I become a real life, less attractive, less successful, less cool version of Jenny MacArthur from “The League”?
It all began in 2009 when my father, my own flesh and blood, asked me to participate in his work fantasy football league. It was a league of 11 men and me, a 22-year-old woman craving competition after completing four years as a college athlete. I needed something to excite me again. I love competing, and sports have always been my outlet. This was perfect for me. Immediately I engaged in trash talking. Yes, these were my dad’s coworkers, but I did not care. I wanted to make them feel as small as humanly possible and beat them into oblivion. That first year I did pretty well. I won a few hundred dollars. The next season I upped the ante and joined a second league comprised of my best girlfriends from home. A true Ladies League. My teams were winning, and I was gaining confidence in my ability as a fantasy general manager with each victory. I felt invincible. Again, I won a bit of money, but it was the adrenaline and thrill of the chase that hooked me.
By 2011, I was in three separate leagues and I had lost all self control. My weeks were spent writing down witty and biting insults to send to my opponents. My Sundays were consumed with nachos, beer, and obsessive compulsive stat checking. I gained 20 pounds.
The worst part of becoming a fantasy football addict is that I’ve compromised my fandom for the New England Patriots. Since I was a small child I’ve cheered for the Pats. I love Tom Brady more than most of my family. Yet, in fantasy football you’re cheering for individual players, so it’s not uncommon to have to play against guys you would normally cheer for. I feel conflicted watching Tom Edward Patrick Brady Jr. throw a fourth touchdown, because this week I’m playing against him. How can I call myself a true fan? I have nightmares where I’m alone in a locker room with Bill Belichick and his hoodie, and he’s clearly disappointed in me. I wake up crying and pleading for forgiveness.
There is a silver lining though. My addiction to fantasy football has lessened its grip after a few unfortunate losing seasons. As of this writing, I’m only in one league, and I’m currently 5-7. My dreams of a playoff berth are slipping away. My team this year is much like me in college: full of trash and rarely scoring. One league is all I can emotionally handle right now.
Some have said I’m too competitive. I disagree. Competition is human nature. Some say it is not ladylike for me to be so abrasive in my fantasy football leagues. To that I simply say, “eat shit.” I’m not sure if I’ll ever be cured of my fantasy football addiction. I’ve thought about quitting cold turkey, but then like what would I do September through December? Read books? Take up knitting? How do people even live without fantasy football? I don’t remember.
As Usher once brilliantly penned: these are my confessions. It feels good to admit I have a fantasy football problem. I’d like to know if there are other women out there who love football as much as I do? Right now I only find solace in watching reruns of The League (Ed. Note: I joined a fantasy league this year and now I'm terrified.).
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