Football season is entering its last weeks, and so, naturally, is fantasy football season. That means many of you imaginary team owners have come to a sad realization: Your team sucks.
There are many roads that lead to last place. Perhaps you drafted running backs who underperformed, wide receivers who got hurt, or 41-year-old quarterbacks who moonlight as amateur photographers. Or maybe your team just isn't very good.
That's OK. But losing doesn't make it OK for you to stop managing your fantasy football team. Vince Lombardi once said, "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser." Of course, Vince Lombardi was involved in real football.
For the uninitiated: Fantasy football is not a sport; it's a game linked to a sport. You pick a team of NFL players, get points for how well they do each week, and if you score more points than the other guys, you win. If you do win, it's mostly luck - a product of point values assigned according to the statistics of players you have no control over. But it offers all the excitement and emotion of football without the annoyance of physical exercise or long-term brain damage.
While football is about winning and losing, fantasy football is about enjoying yourself. Sure, you usually play for money, and it's always nice to be able to mercilessly taunt friends and coworkers after winning the week's head-to-head matchup, but the main point is that it allows you to root for a greater number of teams and players. It's a means of bettering the NFL fan experience.
So, if you stop managing your team just because you've been eliminated from playoff contention, you're depriving yourself of an excuse to watch football. And a 17-week season is too short to waste.
Besides, you spent all those hours crafting that witty team name. You planned for your draft strategy as if you were Eisenhower planning D-Day. You bragged about your players as if they were your children (and, just like your children, they failed to live up to your lofty expectations). You combed through the available free agents as if they were leaked war documents.
And now, just because you've lost a few games, you're quitting? Quitters belong in rehab. Addicts belong in fantasy football.
But maybe it is about winning and losing after all. Maybe you're just too competitive to cope with watching your team lose week after week. You've probably flipped over a board game or two in your lifetime, haven't you? I can understand where you're coming from.
But there's another side to that coin. Every week you don't manage your team, there's some other team owner out there getting easy victories and coasting to a playoff spot on your goodwill. That's malarkey. Goodwill is for social workers and hipsters, neither of which are known for their fantasy football prowess. Maybe you won't bask in the glow of imaginary Internet championship glory, but that doesn't mean you should unfairly skew the playoff picture for everyone else.
A few months ago, you made a commitment. When you accepted that league invitation and sent in that crisp $10 or $20 bill, you weren't just signing up for fantasy football. You were in effect declaring: "I am fully prepared to invest too much time and energy in a game that detracts from my family, work, and social responsibilities. I care too much about millionaire athletes who couldn't care less about me. For the next four months, I have no life."
Prouder words have never been spoken. So pick your chin up and start actively managing your team again. The eyes of the world are on you. And by "the world," I mean the other degenerate members of your fantasy football league.