Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Men Will Be Boys

Maurice Jones-Drew, star running back of the Jacksonville Jaguars, also has a team in a Fantasy Football League. He had first pick in his league's draft. He chose himself.

Hubris, you say? I don't think so. Any self-respecting fantasy league owner with the first pick is going to choose the player that gives him the best chance to win. The fact that Jones-Drew chose himself may be a bit of a longshot, but you've got to take those kinds of chances if you're going to win, and a veteran owner like Jones-Drew knows that. Besides, he knows what condition his knee is in better than anyone else. He must like his chances and his team's schedule.

You may remember that Jones-Drew wisely took a knee instead of scoring a touchdown last year in order to run out the clock and beat the Jets; then he apologized to Fantasy owners. So, yes, the two worlds are forever inextricably linked.

Let's review. A professional football player, certainly one of the top players in the world at his position, not only plays a game for a living, but is completely caught up in a game based on that game. That's fantasy, baby! Even someone who is living the reality is indulging in the fantasy.

If you think all of this is pretty silly, I'm not going to argue with you. I'm just going to embrace that silliness. Call it immaturity, if you like. But also call it big business, a factor in the GDP, and relatively-harmless fun.

"It gives you something to talk about on Mondays," said a Fantasy owner yesterday. As if that were all of it.

What male, given the chance to call the shots, be the big dog, get in the game, live vicariously through the actions of superstar athletes, wouldn't do so? I mean, why is Madden Football so popular year after year after year?

Fantasy Football's continuing growth in popularity should not be a surprise to anyone.

What does surprise me, however, is that Fantasy Football has been allowed, by the women in our lives, to assume a kind of legitimate quasi-importance. Certainly, we never expected that. Yes, Women In Our Lives, we are pinching ourselves all the time to make sure that we are awake! Amazingly, statements like "I can't, I've got the Fantasy Draft tonight" or "I'm one of the commissioners of the league, so I've got to be there," have credibility in a relationship. We are constantly stunned that those excuses don't simply receive looks of blank incredulousness.

And we know we are boys. What pleasantly shocks us is that we aren't told what boys we are more often.

My wife chewed me out on Sunday because she thought I was in a bad mood over our high school team's loss on Friday, the Vols' loss on Saturday, the Mocs' loss on Saturday, and the close Steeler game I was watching at the time, or some combination thereof. Wrong, honey. I had already weathered most of those storms. I was just worrying about my Fantasy team.

It's funny how often we men feel like boys or realize we're headed that way. With our music and our beer and our toys and games, we cling, not even desperately, but societally, to our youth.

But do we ever tell a woman that she's being a girl? Not really. Not too often that I'm aware of. It doesn't even make sense, does it? Men tell each other that they are being girls, but tell that to a woman? No. It doesn't fit.

Because women, whether they have children or not, become moms, and I mean moms in the sense of caretakers, moms in the sense of "what kind of crazy shennanigans have our boys gotten into now?" Women have allowed themselves to be willingly co-opted into supporting our games. If they don't, I guess, they run the risk of their men running around in bars with a million televisions and waitresses in tight referee's outfits and piles of unhealthy foods and other, looser women and all of that. "I've got to go, honey, it's Fantasy Football," we say. So they figure they'd better become a part of it. Men are so easily distracted.

NOTE: My team, Po-Boy, faces off against John's team, My Nascar Ex, in a Billy Division showdown this weekend. My opponent is favored by three, but I'm working feverishly on tooling and readjusting my line-up to try to get the edge.


rodle said...

John defeated me this weekend; He's a force to be reckoned with. I'm already looking forward to my victory over Billy himself, which is so rare it should be worth two wins.

Billy said...

The dudes in Mad Men call women "girls" a lot, but it doesn't seem to be either endearing or complimentary.

The New Yorker article from a while back about the current state of romantic comedies - listless schlubby loser of a guy who outkicks his coverage to land an ambitious, organized lady - still holds true, it seems, both in the real world and on the big screen.

Over time, I've gotten less obsessed about my fantasy football team. No more Sunday Ticket on DirecTV. No more preparing for the draft three weeks in advance. No more giving much of a crap about it in advance. YET... here I am in week two, loving the fact that I get to obsess over it for the remainder of the fall.

Bob said...

Plus, Billy, you cared enough about it to spend half of your Free Agent money the first week! That doesn't look too casual to me. That looks like you're going for the jugular.

John said...

Bob, great insights. I'd add that I wish your observations about wives extended to daughters, as well. When I told Alex that Football Season was here, her response was, "Oh that's just great, Dad" (sarcasm on).

What friendly wager can we put on the outcome of Week 2's game?