I feel it's appropriate to talk about fantasy football during the time of year, when so many of us were raised to believe that on Dec. 24, a fat guy in a red suit would break into our homes at night, eat our food, drink our milk and then leave presents under a tree. I'm not saying the idea of Christmas isn't amazing. When I was a kid, I could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve. My sister and I would wake our mom and dad up at ridiculous hours so we could begin tearing into presents (that my parents bought and wrapped).
Now that I am an adult, I look at parents who go to all sorts of trouble to buy their kids exactly what they want, only to have the kids to believe an invisible dude did all the work. It seems like such a thankless job, but it's tradition. One other tradition I’ve always enjoyed during the holiday season is watching football. I love football. I love everything about the sport, minus excessive end zone celebrations. When I was growing up, I watched football with my parents all the time. We lived in the small town of Bay City, Texas, which is 90 miles south of Houston. We were Houston Oilers fans through and through. (I have several pictures of myself as a kid wearing “Luv Ya Blue” T-shirts.) My parents went to games with friends and held football parties. I remember how they would get really excited if the Oilers won and super-pissed if they lost. One game in particular stands out -- a Buffalo Bills' victory over the Oilers. My sister was not a football fan; she doesn’t enjoy watching sports. I remember when the Bills took the lead, my dad threw his cap at the TV. My sister walked in front of the TV with a smirk on her face. I knew what she was about to do. I wanted to stop her, but the sick part of me wanted to see this shit go down. She put her hand on her 16-year-old hip and said, "Go Bills." My dad calmly got out of his recliner, walked my sister past our dining room table toward a set of beautiful French doors that looked out to our patio and backyard. He opened the door, walked my sister outside, and came back in. He left my sister outside and locked the door behind him. My dad then walked back to his chair, sat down, looked at me and said, "Don't let her in." So help me God, I love that story. I was 14, and remember it like it was yesterday. I told you this because a) it's freaking hilarious. b) it shows you how powerful the outcome of a game can be. It can make normal people do abnormal things, and make a seemingly put-together adult believe he or she is part of a professional team. Enter fantasy football …
I've never participated in a fantasy football league, but I see just how seriously some people take it. There's nothing wrong with having a hobby, but at some point, you have to draw an imaginary line with your imaginary team. Just this past year, I was called into work on a Sunday morning, which doesn’t typically happen. I work in a newsroom and we have weekend producers and I wasn't on call. I later found out that I was the last resort because several of my co-workers were at a Hooters to draft their fantasy football teams. Are you shitting me? I have to work on a Sunday because my colleagues are playing make-believe? (And drinking beer and eating luke-warm cheese sticks served by walking daddy issues in dolphin shorts.) This was beyond annoying. I've now seen my work associates come in on a Monday beside themselves with anger over the devastating blow their make-believe team took on Sunday. At some point, they may need to leave their feelings on the invisible field or in the fairytale locker room. I might as well have an imaginary friend, if you think about it, it's just as arbitrary as having an imaginary NFL team. The way I have seen people behave over their fantasy football teams makes me embarrassed to be a grown-up. There are plenty of people who don't take their fantasy team seriously and I applaud those folks. I have no problem at all with fantasy football, as far as I see it, it is just a compliment to the sport of football and a great way for fans to get involved, but take it down a notch or 12. It's not real. Have some dignity. Don't stomp around calling the players by their last name as if they actually work for you. It's embarrassing -- for YOU. I truly love the sport of football and am a fan of the Houston Texans (AFC champs! Woo Hoo!), but I draw the line at playing make-believe team owner. Enjoy the sport. Respect the sport. But for the love of GOD, don't let your fantasy football team turn you into a real-life asshole.
(My Christmas present to my mom is me not using the f-word in this article. Merry Christmas, Mom!)
Jenny Johnson is a television news producer and comedy writer living in Houston, Texas. She's adorable, foul-mouthed and can do 20 girly-style push-ups. Follow Jenny on Twitter at @JennyJohnsonHi5.
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