Excitement builds as season draws near

The fall is here and the term “Sunday prayers” is soon to have a whole different meaning for more than 27 million people across Canada and the United States.

Yes, fantasy football season is officially here and to some people it is serious business.

Followers of fantasy football can generally be spotted by their constant checking of player’s stats rather than the score of the game, as well as the loud groans when one of the players is sidelined.

It is believed that, that the first fantasy football draft was held in Bill Winkenbach’s Oakland, California home in 1963.

A fantasy football league will generally consist of 12 people, who manage a roster of 15 NFL players who they have selected during a draft at the start of the season.

Each week, people will set a starting roster which usually includes: one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one team defence.

A team tallies points based on player performance. For example, a touchdown is generally worth six points in most leagues.

“In Canada you expect hockey to be huge, but our signups for fantasy football match our number of signups for fantasy hockey right now,” said Scott Cullen, fantasy sports writer for TSN.

He also added that part of the reason for the fantasy football’s popularity is the simplicity in which players only need to set their rosters once a week, as opposed to several times, like a player has to in other fantasy sports.

Although most of the fans that Cullen interacts with know the fantasy football is only a game, occasionally he will stumble on someone who is into it a little too much.

“Every now and then some people that play fantasy sports lose sense as to what the game is. You have to remember that the people making the decisions in the game that this is their real life and this is what they’re doing with higher objectives than what your fantasy results are going to be.”

Every fantasy football season starts out with a room full of friends catching up on old times and drafting a team full of player, which they will cheer for all season long.

Photo courtesy of David Clow-flickr One such fantasy player who knows exactly what Cullen is getting at is Adrian Urlacher.

Urlacher has run his own fantasy league as commissioner for 10 years now and recently made $3,000 last season for winning his league – with prize money like that at stake, you can quickly see why people get carried away with how the game is played.

“It’s addictive. I look forward to the next season the day the season ends,” said Urlacher.

But, his addiction to competition isn’t all that keeps Urlacher coming back every year. What he may enjoy just as much as beating his friends, is having a set time in which they can get together to hang out.

“Every year you get together with all 12 guys in the league that you may never see or hang out with throughout the year.”

Another fantasy player that agrees with Urlacher about the social aspect of the game is Devin Blanchfield.

When Blanchfield first moved out west from Ottawa he didn’t know much about fantasy football and sort of fell into it because some of his friends were in a league.
Now in his third year of fantasy football, some of his friends joke that he could give lectures on the subject due to knowledge he has picked up over the years from the hours of podcasts he listens to on the subject while at work.

“It’s this wicked way, to stay in touch, because you may only see him at the draft, but it’s not like you’re not texting or contacting him over Facebook throughout the season.”

Along with the connection Blanchfield is able to maintain with his friends through social media, he looks forward to catching up on football life with his friends during the Sunday night game.

“For certain people it’s very stimulating, interesting, and exciting. You get to control out- comes, which can be good for your self-esteem when you win or your players score”

–Dr. Patrick Keelan, registered psychologist

Dr. Patrick Keelan, registered psychologist, has practiced in the field for more than 12 years and says that playing games like fantasy football can have both positives and negatives on people.

“For certain people it’s very stimulating, interesting, and exciting. You get to control out- comes, which can be good for your self-esteem when you win or your players score,” said Dr. Keelan, who has watched his brother play fantasy football throughout the years.

And as far as negatives go, Dr. Keelan advise to make sure you’re not putting too much time into running your team and if you do lose, try not to take it too hard.
If you find this fall that you are falling into the negative area, Dr. Keelan suggests using a timer or asking a friend or loved one as a reminder to make sure fantasy football isn’t taking up too much of your time.

iesplen@cjournal.ca