Summer is drawing to a close, which means we’re finally starting to get some actual sports to talk about, after a long, dull stretch of nothing but baseball. So I’ve started listening to “Mike and Mike” again in the mornings in my office. Which may have been a mistake because I’ve just had to listen to Mel freakin’ Kiper talking about the draft prospects of college players who have yet to play a game this year, and they’ve rather omninously promised a fantasy NFL update coming up later.
These are both pretty dire portents of the immediate future, and I think they’re connected. The unhealthy obsession with fantasy sports has led to an obsession with “drafting” players, which has elevated the eventual NFL draft to the point where it appears to be more important than the actual season. Now, granted, the NFL draft is at least as valid an athletic event as the BCS “Championship,” but really, this is ridiculous.
This is just one of the ways in which fantasy sports are killing America:
— The whole structure of fantasy sports, in which people “draft” players from a wide variety of teams, leads to a corrosion of true fandom. Fantasists who claim to be sports fans root for individual players rather than whole teams, so the actual competition becomes subordinate to some abstract meta-game.
— This also increases the number of irritating douchebags who yap a lot about sports without having any real rooting interest. This is incredibly annoying to real sports fans like myself, who consistently root for the same teams in good years and bad. Fantasists never need to suffer through a rebuilding year, because they can always “draft” a bunch of different players from a better team.
— This feeds the annoying habit of using first-person pronouns to refer to teams. Actually, the use of “we” or “my” to refer to a fantasy “team” is the only thing more irritating than using “we” to refer to a real team that you happen to root for. If you’re not being paid by the organization in question (or getting a scholarship from them), you don’t get to use the first person.
Fantasy sports are a blight on the cultural landscape, and they get worse and more prominent every year. I’m beginning to dread the upcoming NFL season, because it’s getting harder to separate the real sports commentary from the fantasy yappage.
I can take some small consolation from the fact that fantasy basketball is nowhere near as big as fantasy football, so my game of choice remains relatively clean. Still, it’s only a matter of time before the fantasy scourge creeps in there, too.