Friday, September 18, 2009

Fantasy Football, week 1 :: no unicorns, only dragons

I listen to NPR (WNYC in New York) practically all day. Perhaps this highly skews my perspective on, well, everything. But it is rare that I hear anything on this station that I don't at least want to continue to listen to (except the Writer's Almanac every night around 8pm. I don't know why I dislike that so much. Maybe because it interrupts my music with words.) HOWEVER: on a program a few days ago, I believe it was This American Life, they talked about how Fantasy Football has more recently become popular with women. Their reasons for this were a) it's become easier to maintain b) women like to be involved in things that their husbands are involved in and c) their husbands like when women are involved with sports because it makes them feel less guilty when they watch them.

HOLD ON A SECOND. NPR. Seriously?! I never thought I would hear such blatant, blasphemous sexism on my FM radio dial! I was livid. There were a few redeeming moments in the short broadcast. One that said that women were less likely to trade the players that they originally pick, and also that they were more likely to pick players on the teams they remain faithful to. Considering that they probably have gathered more data than I can regarding this, and considering that, well, yes, I do have Brian Westbrook as one of my starting running backs, I kept listening.

I continued to be offended when the announcer said that men don't mind losing to their female counterparts in fantasy football as much as they do to their friends.

I vow, in order to prove NPR's ridiculous broadcast wrong, not only to pay enough attention to my team to know when to switch the players on my bench to my starting line-up, but also to look for free agents and trades that might benefit my team. I decided that I wanted to play in a fantasy league this year because the only place where my football knowledge falters is in knowing the players' names. I can tell you the big shots in the league (such as Tom Brady, Brett Farve, TO) and my opinion on them (good-looking but cocky, omg retire already and DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA.) I can tell you the names of players on my team, the positions they play, and whether or not they deserve their jobs. But I can't tell you the name or position of anyone who isn't in the news more than three or four times per season. I vowed that by getting involved in fantasy this year, I would change this, improving my football knowledge.

I wouldn't say, though, that by improving this knowledge I would be reaching the level of a "guy" and his dedication to the sport. Never would I make this about gender. Though I know I am in a minority, a die-hard female football fan, I would say I know more about football than the average person. Say, a penalty flag is thrown: I bet I could tell you why before the guy sitting next to me could. Or what the cost of committing the foul would be. I could tell you the last time my team won the Superbowl, who won the last few and why I like my franchise more than any other. I'm not challenging anyone's manhood or knowledge of the sport, I'm just saying I can hold my own. And for the football fans of my gender, I am saying we are not what the NPR broadcast made us out to be: compliant, submissive women giddily lining up the hottest guys in the league expecting them to earn us points in our fantasy leagues. Really, NPR?

This being said, I won my fantasy gamble this week. We only gamble pride, and I didn't switch my original starting line-up with anyone on my bench. But I won. I beat my cousin by quite a few points. My male cousin. My brother beat another cousin of ours. Perhaps it has less to do with gender than the infuriating NPR broadcast wanted its listeners to think. Perhaps winning is in our blood. Look at Eli and Peyton Manning. Blood. Yes.

I have a bye on week two for fantasy because there are 9 players in our league. But I'll be back week three to let you know my further plans for fantasy domination.

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