Living in a fantasy world

Aug. 25, 2013 @ 05:29 AM
This morning I rolled out of my Egyptian cotton sheets, showered with the finest bath soaps, slipped into my $10,000 suit, kissed my super-model wife on my way out the door, climbed into my 2014 Range Rover and cruised to my office at one of the largest, most successful sports publications in the world to write my Sunday column. 
Not really. But that's a nice fantasy, right?
My mornings are generally much more humble, but as the NFL season inches ever closer to Week 1, we all have the chance to indulge in one of America's top culprits of procrastination and stress for males — fantasy football.
Preparation for such a meaningless yet stressful venture starts early. Before teams report to camps or rookies are even assigned numbers, I’m checking out potential sleeper picks.
Admittedly, I’ve never been terribly successful at fantasy football, but like real football teams that suffer disappointments year after year, there’s always next year.
Most of my attention goes to the league that was set up for me and a handful of my good friends from college.
Back in the day we threw on our favorite player’s jersey and congregated at a buddy’s house for our annual draft. The first few rounds were always tense as someone drafted a player just as someone else was prepared to scoop him up.
As we got to the later rounds it became more of a draft “party.” I’m not sure how much of that had to do with the lowering importance of the players or our rising beverage count. Regardless, now that I’m past those days I would love to gather around a giant whiteboard with my friends and have another draft party for old time’s sake.
Now we all have to coordinate and find a time where we can all sit in front of our computers and trash talk over a message board during the draft. It’s not quite the same, but we make due.
After I pour my efforts into my main league I fiddle around with one to two others that I join for fun. Of course I still want to win, but if I lose on a given week in these leagues I’m subject to much less scrutiny.
This year I’m trying to get my dad in on the act. He always wonders why I get upset or excited at plays that don’t involve our Panthers. When I tell him I have a certain guy on my fantasy team or I’m playing against another, he always rolls his eyes. Maybe if I get him a taste of it he’ll understand and I’ll have a few chance to rub it in his face.
The truth is, fantasy football makes watching football that much more fun. It gets you involved in games that you normally would overlook. It increases your knowledge and, in my opinion, makes you a better football fan.
As a sports writer I always think I know the solutions to my favorite team's problem and feel that I should be in charge, fantasy football gives me the chance to make the calls. But again, it's called fantasy for a reason. Deep down I know I'm qualified to make many managerial decision for any sports franchise. Former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney was a sports journalist and we know how that turned out. 
So over the next two weekends I’ll be organizing my cheat sheets and catching up on any podcasts that I missed in preparation for upcoming drafts. Although, I need to remind myself not to take things too seriously to the point that it isn’t fun anymore. Because I may not roll to work in a new luxury vehicle and write for the whole world, but I have a car that runs and gets me to a small newspaper where I write my Sunday column for a few thousand folks that know me well enough to greet me in public. So fantasy might be fun, but my reality is too bad either.