My fantasy football team is good this year. Week One saw me post the second-highest point total in a stacked league, and that’s with poor contributions from two of my top three draft picks. I could–nay, should–be a juggernaut. Well…….
Don’t you feel like that’s always the case with fantasy owners? We leave the draft with the confidence of a thousand Mick Jaggers, only soon to be smacked across the eyes with the realization that our team plays with the enthusiasm of exactly one Charlie Watts.
And then we grouse. We grumble. We get downright choleric, not about our ability to pick and set a lineup, but the inability of these supremely talented athletes to accrue yardage and catches and touchdowns, all in the name of helping us put a plaque on our wall and maybe a little cash in our pockets.
I won’t lie: I still love fantasy football. But Sunday marked a sad epiphany in my fake football fanaticism. Heck, maybe it’s just a sign of growing up. Or maybe it’s not about me at all…..
First half, Giants ball. Saquon Barkley falls awkwardly on his elbow. GASP! Seconds drag by before, almost magically, he’s back in the game, running the ball. WHEW! But like clockwork, as quickly as the relief entered my body and escaped through an audible sigh, another Saquon injury. This time, he isn’t getting up so easily. Looks like an ACL. Back to GASP!
Later…. in San Fransisco, Jimmy Garoppolo throws a second TD to…..Jordan Reed(!?!). Looks like I might still be okay in my matchup. But, Jimmy G is limping. Report later: out for the day with an ankle injury. Man, oh, man!
By that point, I was pretty sure my fantasy Sunday, if not my fantasy season, was done for. And then….
Thudding finality hit.
James White, my flex play, is out. Parents….car crash…mother critical….father deceased. Real life….not fantasy….not fantasy football….Reflection….
As we all egotistically run things through our own prisms, maybe I take Sunday as a lesson learned. A lesson needed, but longing for a different, less final, less tragic teacher.
I’ll still love fantasy football, but maybe I won’t check my phone fifty times an hour to see if my players have scored or if my opponent’s players are putting up career numbers. Maybe I’ll actually watch the game and have fun, but apply perspective. And empathy.
Empathy. Most of all, empathy. Empathy is the most desperately needed, 100% free gift we can all give. No trips to the store or delivery boxes on the porch. Just trying to feel how someone else feels for a while. Not fantasy. Not fantasy football. Humanity.
As the guys on my team will no doubt practice this week, preparing to help their own teams win (and hopefully mine, too), I hope to practice empathy more and more. In the end, there will be no plaques on the wall, but I’ll be much richer for it.