A football fan’s emotions are among the most turbulent and exhausting of any major fandom. More dedicated than Potterheads, louder than Directioners, and more emotionally involved than anime-lovers everywhere, football fans face the turmoil and jubilation of league football every weekend. No sound is sweeter than the eruption of a crowd’s goal celebrations, no sight more wonderful than a bulge in the back of the net, no feeling as great as your team taking the lead. Such ecstatic glee is the drug we all crave as football fans, but it can come at a significant cost. The putrid taste of defeat puts a troublesome cloud over such happiness. A poor result may be the only time you see the insecure male cry, as his nature is to mask his emotions in a drunken stupor of cheering and jeering whilst his team is anything-but-losing. But once that ball hits the back of your own net (after a clear mistake by the ref) the pain is indescribable.
In defeat, we can blame the manager, the players, the owners, the referee, and there are countless other excuses that can be made to protect the honour of your team. As a fan of the once remarkably average Swansea City I can confirm that if you think creatively enough, there is always a way to explain away a defeat. That, however, is not enough. Deep inside, you know you specifically could have made a difference. You would have changed the line-up. Changed the formation. Made better transfers, sorted out the tactics, anything to have prevented the loss. But there is no way to prove it, right?
For the unfailingly hubristic football fan, there is an option to channel your self-proclaimed expert knowledge of football into a more productive medium than complaining at the television. It is possible to live out your football fantasy, with Fantasy Football. By harnessing the energy of built-up rage from years of poor managerial decisions, it is possible to right the wrongs of the teams of old, by unleashing your own football agenda on the world. Make your own friends weep at the astronomical power you accrue through transfers of players until you have the ultimate team. Create a draft league to attain all the best players without allowing your friends – nay, enemies – a chance. Watch, salivating, as your points total goes up with every goal scored…
That is, of course, if you manage to pick the right players for that game week.
Alas, there is the heartbreak of the beautiful game in the fantasy version too. The horror of seeing one of your benched players score a hat-trick is achingly tragic. However, you no longer have a scapegoat to blame, those decisions were yours. To accept such actions and move on allows for a heightened sense of wisdom unachievable in other hobbies.
Despite the pleasure of showing your superiority over your friends, there are, somewhat surprisingly, other reasons you may need to play Fantasy Football than crushing your enemies. For example, it can improve your analytical skills, as you decide which players to play in order to… well, crush your enemies.
It also allows you to have a deeper appreciation for the game you love. The game which, by existing and encouraging the game of Fantasy Football has given you the means to… again, crush your enemies.
Okay, I will just be honest, there is nothing in this world better than the bragging rights of topping your league.
Fantasy Football has appeal to anyone hoping to blow off some steam and prove they are smarter than everyone when it comes to the beautiful game that is Football. Predicting who will score for a game in which you cannot lose money, only honour, is a much better alternative to either betting or actually partaking in the exercise you like to watch. And who knows, if you win your game week, it may put you in a good enough mood to ace all your assignments for university (disclaimer: there is no guarantee that you will).
In the wise words of Pete Eckhart, “God bless Fantasy Football. There are many things a man can do with his time. This… is better than those things.”