It’s Okay to Say No to Fantasy Sports
Football comes from autumn. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of most college sports seasons, the NFL looks set to continue its work, which means a fully digital version of America’s most popular sport is already ahead of the trend. Yes, this is that time of year when your inbox is greeted with email invitations and all discussion responses from friends asking you to join their fantasy football leagues.
For sports fans, fantasy lighting may seem like a pre-season pre-season as tips, cheat sheets, and season layouts appear on your favorite sites, channels, and podcasts. But for some of us (to be honest, I expect the number to increase) this year may offer the best opportunity we’re going to get to avoid the stress of the game.
Of course, if you love fantasy sports and want to play, that’s great! Fantasy sports – especially soccer given its weekly format – can be a fun, structured way to keep in touch with friends and family. If that sounds like you, well see you on the virtual grid and there are many articles for you on the internet. This is not one of them. But if the thought of running a mock draft and juggling your squad every week for the next four months gives you a sting of anxiety, consider it my permission to say no to fantasy sports.
You don’t need my permission, but again, in case it helps: you don’t need to play fantasy this season. Or next season. Or ever! You don’t have to play in the house, with a mouse, in a chair, here or there … No fantasy baseball, fantasy basketball, or any other fantasy sport that used to be considered a cool passive adventure. you realize that this may be too serious or too deep for your pleasure. Once fantasy sports are a real source of stress, you can – and should, I argue – let it go.
The biggest obstacle to a lifestyle without fantasy sports is social pressure. I have been on both sides of this game, and I know what it means to look for players in your working league, the league of random friends, the league of close friends and others. In the worst case, I participated in four fantasy leagues at once. It was, quite frankly, terrible. But while the volume I took on was clearly overwhelming (you may know someone worse or be that person yourself), any number of fantasy leagues can be more problematic than they are worth if you don’t invest, unless this number is not zero.
Personally, I accepted most invitations for two reasons: either I underestimated the time spent, or a friend asked well, and I did not want to let them down. You are no doubt especially familiar with the latter feeling if you are known as a sports fan, as your friends expect you to be more than happy to join them. But there are realities to face here: fantasy is stressful, time-consuming, requires significant involvement, can sometimes ruin your enjoyment of sports, and is more anxiety than real pleasure. Let’s take a look at each of them and find out how you can use them to say no to fantasy football:
Fantasy is stress
It is clear that fantasy sports can be troubling. Take fantasy football. It takes a significant amount of time to play well, and your chances of winning are low and, if you’re not a data scientist, highly unpredictable. Of course, you can always sign up and play effortlessly, but then you are the right person. Someone who upsets the league’s balance by serving as a doormat for those other players who have the advantage of a free, unfair victory over your skeletal lineup of substitute quarterbacks, weekly receivers, and injury pool runners. You are not doing your friend or league any favor by saying yes if you don’t like it. You are doing the Leagues a favor by saying no, whether they understand that at the time or not.
Fantasy sucks time
Fantasy is an investment, so ask yourself if it’s worth it. As someone who has won multiple fantasy championships, let me tell you: no one cares about this. When leaving the fantasy league, it’s more than acceptable to be honest about your unwillingness to waste time on it. Refuse politely, do it briefly and without apology. Don’t get into a game of listing competing priorities, as this will only give them the opportunity to resist. You are busy and that’s okay; or you’re not busy and would rather spend time sleeping than figuring out if Ezekiel Elliot is listed as questionable or likely, and that’s okay too.
Fantasy requires buy-in
And I don’t mean finance (although that’s another way out too – I have successfully emerged from many fantastic leagues, citing finance, which most league managers gracefully accept). But fantasy requires emotional support for months, and maybe life is a little stressful right now, given … everything ? Now more than ever, a simple “I can’t deal with stress right now” is more than enough. Maybe you prefer to play football with less stress.
Fantasy can ruin your football
One of the most insidious side effects of fantasy, especially if you’re a team soccer fan, is the shame that comes with supporting your team when your fantasy player is on the wrong side. This is a particularly useful excuse if you are known to be a sports fan and the previous sentences (“fantasy sucks time” and “fantasy is stress”) seem empty. Sure, you spend your time and emotional energy on sports, but this year you want to focus those resources entirely on your team.
Sure, you could be the team manager who only picks the Detroit Lions drafts to avoid conflicts of interest, but let’s get back to the mat problem: you’re not helping the league by sabotaging your team with a losing strategy.
Remember that you are doing your friends a favor by being frank about your involvement (or lack thereof). Their league will win with a substitution. This fall, you can enjoy other things besides the stress of fantasy. Once you create this use case, you will only be able to play the seasons in which you invested. Who knows, you may never want to play Fantasy Season again.