Back in its inception, fantasy football was only for the nerdiest of nerds. Now the game has exploded in popularity and availability so anyone and everyone can participate. While there’s no denying the positive affect that fantasy football plays in the popularity of the NFL, is it having a positive effect on the intelligence of the fan-base too?
Personally, I’m not one to criticize the intelligence of fans. I see it done way too often on the major sports networks by some of the so-called “experts” and I just don’t get a good feeling by a sport or, the people covering the sport, insulting the intelligence of the fan-base just to prove a point when needed. For example, last season ESPN’s Trent Dilfer said, following the debacle of the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers which featured the faux touchdown mess-up by the replacement refs, that the game insulted our (I can only assume he meant him and us fans’) intelligence.
Less than a month later, he took to ESPN’s Mike and Mike show to say that NFL fans were dumber following an incident in Kansas City where a few fans reportedly cheered a Matt Cassel head injury. He specifically brought up fantasy football when throwing the jab at our intelligence that time.
The theory that fantasy football makes NFL fans dumber relies on the principle that if you are good at fantasy football, you can’t apply that information to the actual games played on Sundays. That you can’t tell the difference between a player with good fantasy stats and a player that can contribute to a team’s success regardless of what the statistics say. This theory would also have you forget the fact that even if you are football genius; wise beyond imagination on stats, depth charts, rankings, offensive formations, defensive schemes, etc. you could still be a total loser at fantasy football. Sometimes it just takes dumb luck; a good position in your draft, and player availability that can be the difference between the bottom of the pile and hoisting up whatever fantasy football trophy you play for.
The other difference is money. If you’re not a betting fan, and just watch because you grew up following a team or whatever reason, you don’t get anything but the pure joy and ecstasy from watching your favorite team win a championship. You don’t get a ring, a bonus check, hell you even have to pay for any championship gear you might want to sport. But you do that because you love your team and because football controls your emotions just like it does for me.
Because of fantasy football some fans don’t even care about the outcome of games. That, to me is dumb. Sure, fantasy football can get you more versed in statistical information, depth chart analysis, and can improve your understanding of the game that way. But fantasy football was designed to enhance the fan participation in the sport and not replace it with people paying more attention to the waiver wires than final scores. I’m certainly not a “You’re not a true fan if…” kind of person by any means. Each of us get what we want out of the game and if you’re only interested in being a fantasy football kind than good for you, but you’re missing a hell of a real game out there.