- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fantasy football is not just a game. It’s a game based on a game. It’s less than a game.

Now, it may sound odd coming from a guy who writes a fantasy football column, but it’s a game that doesn’t matter. Not in the grand scheme of things.

In that respect, fantasy football is a microcosm of sports itself — an often-welcome and occasionally needed escape. A catharsis.

Sometimes we lose perspective on what is and what is not important in life. I thought a lot about that Wednesday night and into Thursday morning as I alternated between watching the events unfold at Penn State in the wake of Joe Paterno’s firing and interacting with my 3-month old son.

I watched young adults protesting the firing of a coach — not based on the merits of the decision or the facts surrounding a growing sex scandal involving a former longtime assistant and underage boys, but because it’s going to hurt The Team, it’s going to affect The Game.

That’s a frightening lack of perspective. These aren’t college “kids.” They’re adults and they should know better.

But that’s what sports does at times. It clouds our judgment. Sometimes we lose sight of reality in a fantasy world where nothing matters but The Team, where it’s all about The Game.

I’m not going to lie. I’m 39 years old, a husband and father, and I still find myself getting upset when I lose a fantasy football game. A game I have virtually no control over. A game that didn’t even exist in its current form until I was in high school. Somehow I managed to survive all those years without it.

Being a father has made me more introspective and cognizant of how I approach certain situations. When a receiver I face on a given week scores three touchdowns and I lose to fall below .500, I can no longer release a string of profanities and curse my existence.

I can no longer let losing a fantasy football game ruin not just my Sunday afternoon, but my whole week. It’s just a game.

I think back to how consumed I used to be with fantasy football and how childish I used to act because I lost not just a game, but a game based on a game. To be honest, I’m embarrassed by it. Just as I was embarrassed watching the students at Penn State.

As I watched, I wished my son was older. Old enough that I could explain to him how misguided the students were being, and how silly his father had been.

I wanted to explain that immersing yourself in sports can be a wonderful, fulfilling and memorable part of life, but that it’s important to maintain perspective, important not to let the games become more important than they really are, important to know that when it comes right down to it, when real life intrudes, games don’t matter. Not in the grand scheme of things.

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