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Does fantasy football ruin fandom?

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Let me paint a scenario for you. On Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, Laurington is watching Monday Night Football where the Dallas Cowboys are facing the Arizona Cardinals. In Laurington’s living room, New York Giants posters are hanging all over his walls, and a massive Giants flag is stationed right next to his rather small TV. Now the time is approximately 10:17 p.m., and Laurington is noticeably nervous at this point. In all honesty, who can blame him? The Giants have just suffered a demoralizing loss on Sunday where virtually all their playoff hopes were completely shattered. On top of that, Washington looked like vintage Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld (aka dominant). Oh, and did I mention that the Giants lost to Philadelphia, and Carson Wentz may or may not have looked like a reincarnated Poseidon? So yeah, I can see why Laurington would be nervous at around 10:17 when the Cowboys are losing 7-0. Laurington really needs them to lose in order to salvage any hope of the Giants making the postseason. I feel for you, Laurington, I really do.

Now what if I told you that Laurington is nervous for another reason. Sure, he’s a Giants fan and wants them to make the playoffs. Of course there’s a lot riding on this Week 3 Monday Night matchup for the Giants. Those reasons are definitely making him nervous, but they’re not the main culprits of his rather excessive perspiration and high blood pressure.

Plot twist: Laurington wants the Cowboys to score. As a matter of fact, Laurington wants the Cowboys to light up the scoreboard. Essentially, Laurington wants the Cowboys to succeed big time, which could very well mean the Giants’ season is pretty much over. That’s right, Laurington is in the middle of an Apollo Creed versus Rocky Balboa-type battle in fantasy football, and Laurington has Dak Prescott – Dakington for short – going for him. Laurington is nervous because he needs 21 points to win, and Dakington had produced approximately one point up to that point, and the game is about two minutes away from halftime. Now I’m no math major, but assuming Dakington performs at a similar level during the second half as he did in the first half, Dakington will only produce two points on the night. Correct me if I’m wrong, but two points won’t be enough for Laurington to win if he needs 21 points to achieve victory. I feel for you, Laurington, I really do.

Laurington is now facing the dilemma of fantasy versus reality. Undoubtedly, Laurington wants the Giants to make the playoffs. The man has Odell Beckham Jr.’s face tattooed on his left thigh for Christ’s sake. However, Laurington also wants the Cowboys and Dakington to do well, which would probably entail them winning. This situation demonstrates the biggest issue that I’ve experienced and noticed in playing fantasy football: does fantasy football ruin fandom?

Sooner or later Laurington’s allegiance to the Giants will be tested directly. Hypothetically speaking, if Tom Brady played the Giants this year and Laurington had Tom on his fantasy team, Laurington would be going through two thought processes. One would entail Tom Brady going off for about 400 yards and four touchdowns, which would most likely beat the Giants in real life but also give Laurington a better chance of winning his fantasy matchup. The second scenario would be that Laurington roots for Tom Brady to have a bad day against the Giants, in which case he wouldn’t produce many fantasy points and would give Laurington a higher likelihood of losing his fantasy matchup for the week. The Giants would win, though.

Is Laurington choosing the first scenario a problem? I can certainly see how Giants fans would think that he has no right to claim allegiance to the G-Men if he adopts this mentality of wanting Tom Brady to go off, causing the Giants to lose. I can also see other fantasy owners saying that his allegiance to the Giants still exists; it just comes out in different ways. The question really becomes how we define fandom.

If fandom is wanting your team to win all the time than Laurington technically can’t be considered a fan of the Giants in this hypothetical scenario. Again, if the definition of fandom entails wanting your team to win all the time, how does one explain Browns fans wanting their team to lose every game so that they can get the first overall pick in the draft? Technically they couldn’t be considered Browns fans if they adopt this mentality, could they? I guess fantasy football is another added challenge of being a team fan in the 21st century.

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