I, like most sports fans are in multiple fantasy sports leagues, ranging from Football to Baseball to Basketball and even an occasional Hockey league. What I have noticed over the last few years though, is that as I play fantasy sports year in and year out I have noticed I no longer have favorite teams. When asked a few years ago my answers would have been quick and easy, favorite MLB team Detroit Tigers, Favorite NFL team Carolina Panthers, Favorite NBA team Detroit Pistons. But now when posed with the very same question, all I think about is, that there are four Houston Astros and three Boston Red Sox on my fantasy baseball team, so how are they doing lately?
I have subscribed to MLB At Bat the last few years, so I can watch any game I choose except for my once favorite Tigers due to local blackout on the app. So instead of watching my favorite team I find myself flipping in between almost every game, so I can see J.D Martinez bat for the Red Sox and Raisel Iglesias close out a game for the lowly Reds. I don’t watch games start to finish like I once did.
It’s the same thing for other sports too. What running backs are on my fantasy football team? That’s who I’m rooting for. Instead of watching my favorite team on Sundays, I’m watching NFL RedZone so I can see whenever one of my players score and I can root against whoever is on my opponents’ team. Scott Hanson the host of NFL RedZone is my favorite sports personality during football season because he’s on every Sunday with no commercial breaks. I’m not interested in what team wins or loses, just how many points I rack up during the day. A single injury can ruin your entire day or season for that matter. I don’t care if the backup is capable enough to carry the team to victory, unless he is also on my fantasy team.
Fantasy sports fill a gap of competitiveness, as every week I have a new opponent to beat. There is a traveling trophy sitting in my living room right now as reigning champion of the fantasy baseball league I’m in. There is also the traveling Joey Harrington jersey for the fantasy football league, that has my signature on it from the inaugural 2015 season for finishing in last place. It’s a great feeling to look at the trophy and know you have bragging rights for the entire year over eleven other people. It’s also just as humiliating to look in your closet every morning and being reminded that you had the worst team as well.
As I’m thinking about it now, is it better now that I am essentially following players instead of teams? There is never a down year when following players, but I have nothing to celebrate at the end of the year if my favorite team does happen to win it all. For now, I am enjoying how I consume sports, but I do fear I have lost my identity as a sports fan. Will I regret the new way I watch sports if one of my teams go on a run and win a championship? I will let you know when it happens but, for now here’s to Jose Altuve, J.D Martinez, and Sean Doolittle and hopefully I can at least win my fantasy league.