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Pricey dinner tabs for fantasy football losers

Photo by Matthew Serafin

Photo by Matthew Serafin

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The stakes are high in a fantasy football league. The rewards and the punishments can extend far outside the realm of sports. As much as people play for the joy of winning the league, the fear of coming in last place is just as motivating. A cash prize or a year’s worth of bragging rights is nice, but being humiliated in front of friends is even worse.

“I think the punishments are the best part,”Colin Eschweiler, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said. “There’s always a couple on ESPN for the people who get last place in a big-money league.”

“For my league, everybody will have individualized punishments if they get last place,” Wyatt Stokesberry, also a junior in the College of Business Administration, said. “Like wearing the shirt of a political party they would never vote for, or buying everybody a food that they hate, stuff like that.”

And that’s only once a participant selected his or her team. Few things can match the stress of a fantasy football draft. While there are certainly more important situations, there is still a certain level of anxiousness and chaos that comes with drafting a team.

Preparation for the draft depends on one’s involvement and dedication to fantasy football. For some, it means months of grueling research, ranking players and running through different scenarios that could play out during the actual draft. For others, it amounts to praying that internet connection doesn’t let him down, as he performs a frantic Google search, with thirty seconds left before he goes on the clock.

“There is a certain panic that sets in when it’s your turn to pick,” Stokesberry said. “Even if you know who you want, you start second guessing yourself and wondering if you have the right idea.”

During the draft, there is tangible excitement that the real deal is finally there. No matter the preparation, everybody only gets one chance at making his or her picks. A single mistake can be fatal, and even the most confident of fantasy football players can experience crippling self-doubt after submitting a pick. It’s almost unbelievable the degree to which one can fall in love with a certain player during the pre-draft process, only to immediately feel that selecting him has sunk your season.

“When the clock starts winding down on your pick and you have to make a decision, it’s terrifying,” Nick Malik, a junior in the College of Communication, said. “You just throw your hands up and hope for the best.”

The later rounds of the draft have a different type of feel. The early excitement has faded, and now the marathon of draft picks instead feel like an unnecessary slog. It is especially frustrating when the player, will use all ninety seconds of their pick clock to decide which kicker to select.

“The draft goes from this exciting thing you’re looking forward to to an insane first couple rounds, where you’re hoping you can get some of the guys you wanted, to this endless drag that feels like it will never end,” Eschweiler said. “Because, once you’ve made your picks, you just want the actual games to happen.”

Finally, the actual season has arrived; however, the drama will only continue to build. Rooting interests can confuse the most hardcore of fans, and some will find themselves actually looking forward to garbage time, the last minutes of a blowout game where individual players try to pad their stats. Who can blame them, though? Stats are stats, regardless of their actual football importance.

Losing a fantasy football game when one feels he or she deserved to win is the ultimate frustration for fantasy league participants. In fantasy football, every player is allowed to feel like the most unlucky player in the world.

This is because everybody has a time they can remember having their heart broken, whether it’s a long touchdown, a seldom used backup tight end or a missed field goal from chip shot range. Yet, we play on.

Football season is back, so if you see anybody looking especially tense during a game, it might not be that their favorite NFL team is losing. They might just be thinking about how their season had better turn around quickly, or they’ll get stuck with that big dinner tab they can’t afford to pay.

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