Nobody cares about your fantasy football team. Except you.Never forget that.
Discussing your roster, the details of your recent “thrilling victory” or lamenting your lack of quality running backs should remain off limits at work. Only bring up these subjects in casual conversation with friends, preferably at a bar when hopefully all participants have enjoyed enough drinks to feign interest. What I will tell you about my fantasy football teams — that’s right; I’m in two leagues despite being a mostly grown adult — is how important the connections to other members have become. Participation in these annual four-month odysseys gives me a reason to keep up with people once big parts of my life, now spread out across the country in some cases. These provide an outlet that no social media site or text message exchange can duplicate. I truly believe this and probably have spent entirely too much time thinking about. Labor Day weekend at the Martin household started with chores and an appointment to have 1-year-old portraits taken of our son, Cale. It also included a trip to Liberty Hospital to visit friends and their newborn baby girl who arrived early Saturday morning. The three days also provided a chance for a pair of fantasy football drafts. Neither was as filled with vulgar insults or beer as it used to be — either a sign of my maturity or fear of my wife’s potential wrath for getting too far out of line. The first occurred early Sunday afternoon at a bar in the Power and Light District. I met up with a friend at his house in Platte City, and four old buddies rode town together, a pleasant 25-minute drive that allowed us to talk the way we used to when we all hung out together in college. We discussed jobs and kids, and Mark’s injured leg from his escapades the night prior. Very little has changed. There were jokes as the usual suspects tried to draft players taken an hour earlier, so convinced they’d outsmarted everyone. “No, Bubba, you can not have Roddy White in the 11th round because he went six rounds earlier. Keep enjoying those shots of Fireball.” Hey, some of them still used the chance to have a few drinks. After about 3 hours, we parted company for another year but with an unspoken knowledge we’d all be back again next year. Beats the heck out of scrolling through the Facebook timeline for empty updates on them, and not nearly enough of them have the desire to wade through my deluge of Royals tweets to know what I’m up to at the moment. No offense taken. After the hospital trip early on Labor Day, I returned home and set up for the even more important draft. Every year since 2007, St. Joseph News-Press employees past and present meet up to sort out a three-player keeper league with special rules. The past two drafts have been online as it became more and more difficult to bring us all together at the same place and time to trade occasionally explicit good-natured insults due to our hectic journalist schedules. Over the years, participants have come and gone due to job changes. Only three original members remain, myself included, and the 2014 season marks the first time in its eight-year history the league features more past employees of the News-Press than current. I’m also included in that second group this year because I’m finishing up my third month in charge here at The Citizen. This helps keep me connected to those still fighting the good fight at the News-Press. I still miss a lot of those guys and our daily interactions in and out of the office. Trust me. I’ll make sure to take the chance to send a few extra texts to members or post a league poll to the league page with all answers designed to make fun of others and maybe my self. I need those interactions in both leagues to help keep me connected to my past. Can you imagine what our parents and grandparents used to do to keep up with old friends after a job change? I bet that actually picked up a pen, put it to paper and scrawled a thoughtful message then sent that through the mail and waited days for a reply that might never come. Doesn’t that sound awful? I’m mostly kidding, but technology is great. I could spend time telling you about the internal debate on keepers — I ended up choosing Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles but also re-drafted New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz to keep even more of my 2013 championship core together. Or I could bore with you talk of how running backs are overvalued, and elite quarterbacks should be early targets — I swear it’s true if you look at the statistical breakdowns. But I know nobody cares about my fantasy football teams. I also know that these fictional rosters I spend time upkeeping provide a conversation starter and a good excuse to be a better friend, and if you’re like me, that means they matter more than they otherwise would.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Ross.