The Games We Play

By

Prime Time Fantasy Football Season

By TUSHAR DWIVEDI

 

I’ll be frank; I do a poor job keeping in touch with my high school friends. The things that brought us together seemed to be more a function of proximity and face-to-face interaction, which sometimes, simply can’t be replicated over thousands of miles.

Sports have a certain power to unite; standing amongst the crowd at Fenway or Wrigley, on your feet as a walk-off homerun departs the stadium, thriving off the energy of those around you, you feel alive. Not many have the skill to play, and few have the time to regularly watch.

But regardless of the brutality of the coming week, there’s something about knowing when you wake up on a Sunday, that there’s football on, and for one afternoon and evening, you can stop being an intellectual, and give in to the bright lights, big hits, shutouts and free throws of professional sports. I had dreams of playing growing up, and perhaps a little later than most, realized abruptly I wasn’t good enough. Worse than that realization, however, is the harsh understanding that you’ve lost all channels for expressing the competitiveness and grit that defined the sport.

Fantasy Football does perhaps one of the best jobs filling the holes and neatly wrapping the above up; Matthew Berry was one of the first to describe the power of Fantasy Football as an influential role in one’s life, detailing his own personal health and life struggles. By nature, fantasy football requires a near daily interaction with the sport of football. Constant injury updates, roster changes, and trade rumors provide the perfect output for frustration, competitiveness, trash talk and appreciation. There exists no dependence on proximity, and I’ve found the high school friends I do stay in near daily touch with weren’t my best friends, but those just as willing to obsess over a sport that brings us together.

By nature, however, Fantasy Football is an exclusive game to play – those without the time to check for bye weeks or watch the waiver wires fall far behind, and as such, I’ve found that leagues are hard to maintain at Harvard. Students are busy, and rarely do they have time to watch hours and hours of games on Sunday, when a daunting week approaches. Leagues that exist, exist among close friends, and joining a random league might appease the competitiveness one desires, but not the friendly bond that unites a league.

In a school where relationships are oftentimes capital and when pset deadlines come around, friendship is commoditized, it’s incredibly fresh and reliving to base a relationship off of a game that in the long run, really doesn’t matter. Win, lose, worst team or league championship, it’s a low stakes bond that rests lightly above the daily stress of Harvard life.   

I started my season 1-3 this year, having placed far too much confidence in Kenyan Drake, while waiting with perhaps most of Atlanta for Julio Jones to reach the endzone. I traded for Gurley knowing he could single handedly carry my season, and like most of the state of Colorado, I’m a believer in rookie Running Back Phillip Lindsey’s story, and someday hope that it can be mine too. Many look to athletes for inspiration, and fantasy football sometimes has us looking far too deeply into a player value, degrading real human players to points, not realizing that a broken leg matters far more to a player’s family than one’s team. But at the end of the day, fantasy football is just one of many potential communal activities that function to bring people together, in a common spirit, regardless of distance.

I play the game religiously, and hopefully after reading this, perhaps you’d be willing to finally follow through with the draft idea you’ve been tossing around for months, maybe years. Friendships based on mutual passions, with little more than personal pride and sometimes a few dollars on the line, are sometimes worth a lot more than one thinks.

 

Tushar Dwivedi ([email protected]) is always looking for new leagues to join!