I fully realize that yesterday’s blog was about listening to other people and trying to understand them; yet here I am, 24 hours later, about to blow out the hottest craze going in this country (and probably about to expand globally - if it hasn’t already).
The hard core fantasy sports player has some serious issues. Having fun with a hobby is a good thing, but this lunacy has zoomed waaaaay off the charts. Although I’ve felt this way from the outset of the “fantasy”obsession, what got me to come out in blogosphere was watching and listening to (the 8/25/08) Jude LaCava rumor mill at www.myfoxphoenix.com (click on “Sports” and the “rumor mill”). Jude, in addition to being a long-time friend and former colleague (we did a radio show together in Toledo in the late ’80s), is a brilliant sports mind. He’s been the top TV sports anchor in the Phoenix area for a decade or so and, believe me, with a mug like his, you’d better have talent.
As far as getting the Phoenix job, he knew nobody - had absolutely no people to call in favors for him - and yet landed the gig after toiling in Toledo so well for so many years. Toledo to Phoenix? It didn’t take him too long to accept that job when it was offered. His knowledge of sports (all of them), people skills and incredibly quick wit make him a guy you want to tune into each night, then wish you could go down to the local watering hole for a cold one to ask him whatever’s on your mind in the world of sports. He is the absolute definition of “A Regular Guy” and that’s meant as the highest of compliments.
Back to the fantasy story. Jude compared being in a fantasy league to a time from our era, when little kids would play “Army” - with their little toy soldiers, actually thinking they were leading a troop into battle (this was long before video games, where you can really blow up people) and defeating the Germans or Russians (depending how old you were). He continued his rant regarding fantasy-ers, saying, “It’s a league based on stats and you’re led to believe you’re actually running a team, when you’re not!” By the way, he also made mention of fantasy players slacking off at their real jobs (a much greater concern).
I’ve heard conversations between fantasy “owners” who make statements that, if you didn’t know these people were, in reality, pretty bright and capable at what they get paid to do, would truly make you wonder if they were either on something or simply just delusional. Stereotyping is a bad habit so I’ll qualify my statement that not all fantasy players are wannabes, but the club has more than its share of “woulda, coulda, shoulda, if only’s.”
What people from my generation lament is fans can no longer root “for the uniform,” i.e. with free agency, it truly is impossible to tell the players without a scorecard. Fantasy sports goes one step further. Fans now root for individuals in a team sport. An “owner” might be watching a game, cheering for the quarterback and a certain receiver from one team, while rooting for the opponent’s running back and … pick another player (or two, depending on how the “draft” went).
Here’s a scenario that, if it were to take place, wouldn’t shock me. As the game’s final whistle blows, there’s a knock on the door and none other than Peyton Manning is standing there (the Colts had a bye week). Mr. Fantasy’s jaw drops as he sees, in the flesh, one of the game’s (real and fantasy) players. He’s in complete awe - he’s actually had Peyton on a previous year’s fantasy team (the one when he “won it all” and was the toast of the fantasy world). Peyton says, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Anything, Mr. Manning?” melts the “owner.”
“Who just won the game?”
And the fantasy guy doesn’t know (because that’s of no importance to him).
Norman Vincent Peale made a statement regarding how a person should approach his or her job. I think it’s perfect to wrap up this blog:
“Think enthusiastically about everything; but especially about your job. If you do, you’ll put a touch of glory in your life. If you love your job with enthusiasm, you’ll shake it to pieces. You’ll love it to greatness.”
He was talking about was a person’s job, not their hobby.