Fantasy football is a multi-million dollar industry. NFL teams are now mandated to scroll player stats for fantasy at all of their home games. There is even a sitcom based on guys who play in a fantasy football league together. Countless hours are spent online checking waiver wires, changing line-ups, and figuring out what player to start or sit. But what’s better for the fan? I myself am an avid fantasy football player. I’m in three leagues of varying numbers of players and rule variations. I am, you might say, addicted to fantasy football.
As much fun as fantasy football is, it changes the way you watch the game of football. Before, I would watch games purely for the love of a team. I wanted to see my Panthers, and all I cared about was Carolina winning. If we did well, I cheered, and if the other team had a big play, I was pissed. Now I watch the game in a whole different light. If Peyton Hillis lights up Carolina for 127 yards and a touchdown, sure I am mad, but if Peyton Hillis is on my fantasy team putting up 20 points for my team I am alright with that. Five years ago, if Arizona was playing Seattle on Sunday night I didn’t care. Sure, I’d watch the game because, well, it’s football and it’s on TV, but I really didn’t care who won or what players did what. Now if that game is on I have a vested interest if my fantasy team is down 14 points heading into the game and I have Beanie Wells going for me that night.
So which is better? Is it better to watch the game just as fan of a team, or is football better when you have something on the line to cheer for? The argument can also be made for gambling, pick-em challenges, or even eliminator pools – but since I am horrible at picking games, rarely make it past week three in eliminator pools, and look like Clark Griswold in Vegas Vacation anytime I go near a sports book, I am going to make the case with fantasy football.
Since 1995 my dad and I have been going to Panther games. He was one of the original PSL owners, and he is a true Panther fan through and through. He has never played fantasy football, nor has he ever cared to. He watches the Panthers because he loves the team and wants to see them do well. The only reason he cares anything about fantasy football is when the Thanksgiving dinner conversation turns ugly between me and my brothers, and we are arguing whether or not Wes Walker was a good start against Dallas. Dad goes to the game and just wants to see a win – it doesn’t matter if DeAngelo broke a hundred yards or not or if it was Jeremy Shockey getting into the end zone as opposed to Greg Olsen. It doesn’t matter to him who does it or how they get it done, as long as at the end of the day the Panthers bring home a “W.”
I, on the other hand, am the total opposite. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Panthers as well, but I watch the game completely differently. If I started Steve Smith, I want the ball going his way every play. A Smitty touchdown is even more enjoyable when you are rolling up the score on your old college roommate. I have a close eye on which players I am playing against as well – if the person I am playing started Jonathan Stewart, I don’t even want to see him on the field in the red zone despite what might be best for the Panthers. Anytime there is a break in the action, I am checking my cell phone to see who is doing all that scoring in Baltimore, and making sure that the guy I’m playing that week didn’t start Anquan Boldin against me. Every game going on Sunday has some type of impact on my fantasy league. I’m not watching teams anymore – I’m watching players.
So which is better? My dad, the “pure Panther fan,” or me, who wants to win in my own right? I’m interested to hear what you guys think about this one. Leave me a comment telling me your thoughts.