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Fantasy sports have made me a more informed citizen of the United States of America. Granted, they really just make me more knowledgeable about sports in general and I just happen to be a citizen of the USA, but still.
I wasn’t a big sports fanatic as a kid. I watched some baseball but largely didn’t know what was going on in the world of sports beyond the St. Louis Cardinals. I even started playing sports in 3rd and 4th grade but it was all brand new to me. I never watched basketball or football (so yes, I was awful at the start of both) so I never had much interest. I started watching some basketball in early high school, but it wasn’t until I tried fantasy sports that my passion for the game really took off.
After just a couple of fantasy seasons, I could tell you the starting five players for all of the 30 NBA teams. You had to know who was going to be getting big minutes, who could hit threes for you, or who the next big thing was that you had to pick up for your team. The competition between your friends is the driving force that makes every weekly matchup interesting. There are basketball games essentially every day during NBA season, so you are always checking your phone or computer in the evenings to see if your players are flourishing or floundering. The same goes for you watching your opponent’s team. Oh, and also it makes you swear sometimes.
When I started dating my wife, I knew nothing about football. I could tell quickly that that could get me into some awkward situations. Her family frequently spent Sunday afternoons watching NFL games and I barely knew what a down was or how many points a field goal was worth. I thought back to fantasy basketball and realized that this situation wasn’t as hopeless as it seemed. It took a few seasons, but I got into a league with a bunch of friends in college and my mind was quickly filled with glorious sports knowledge. My wife’s family claims me in public, and I’m sure that’s the reason.
I am from Missouri and am a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Naturally, I know more about the Chiefs than I do any other team in the league. A coworker and I were recently having a conversation about our fantasy teams and we quickly realized how ridiculous it was that we were able to have the discussion we were having due to the randomness of the players we were talking about. We named eight or so starters on offense for the Minnesota Vikings. Why on Earth would we know about, let alone be discussing the starters for Minnesota? Fantasy knowledge, baby. Fantasy knowledge.
Speaking of conversations, guys don’t always have a lot to say to each other. I know there are exceptions to that and interests vary, but in my experience, you can almost always bring up sports. Sports are a nearly universal language and it is much easier to speak it if you play in fantasy leagues. I am confident in my ability to hold down an airport conversation with a fella from Orlando about his favorite basketball team or a gal from New Orleans about her favorite quarterback.
I’m not telling you to take your kids out of school and enroll them in a fantasy league, even though that would be hilarious. I’m just telling you that if you are a sports fan or would like to be, I recommend deepening your knowledge with some good ol’ virtual team management. It will make you so obnoxiously smart that people will start to roll their eyes with jealousy when you launch into a spiel about basketball statistics or a football team’s third-string running back. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to trash talk those closest to you. If you take nothing else away from this: NEVER pass up an opportunity to trash talk those closest to you.