Fantasy football is the most brilliant of inventions. It combines pro sports, friendly camaraderie, stat research, gut intuition, and results to look forward to every Sunday. When I was first asked to provide a rebuttal in response to WAFS (Women Against Fantasy Sports), I was immediately enraged and went straight for the jugular. I wanted to refute the grievances and disparage the atrocities of these proclaimed “fantasy widows” who would criticize and condemn this amazing sport.
Then, of course, I took a hot shower to wash off the disgust, lathered myself in lotion (I am such a sucker for toiletries), poured myself a bourbon to relax, and did a little research on my new nemesis. As it turns out, these women aren’t exactly the enemy. The WAFS organization is not saying they are necessarily against the entire industry; they are just against their husbands being overly consumed with it. In fact, some of the women are sports fans as well.
OK, I will agree that being involved in 10 leagues can be considered overboard, but obsessions and addictions of all natures are dangerous. And yes, it is helpful to provide a place for people to share in their struggles, i.e. I Hate Cilantro.com offers a haiku page for fellow victims of the herb to vent their frustrations, just as the WAFS forum exists for women to gripe about their lives.
That said, the biggest flaw I found with the WAFS is this: if you are in a relationship where you feel you are playing second fiddle to the football league, fantasy sports is NOT the problem – it is just the symptom.
Here are a few other bones of contention where I felt they fell short:
WAFS showcases an issue from a woman who yammered: “My husband made a fantasy trade on our wedding night when he pretended to check on an airline flight.” Puh-lease!!! So what? How is that a big deal? Realistically, how long did it take him to do this, maybe 15 minutes at the most? The fact that he had to sneak this trade from you is a red flag in the first place. Don’t be so self-centered to think you have to be his only passion. Seriously, that would be too much pressure on both ends of the equation. Besides, if needy women who whine about not getting enough attention make my stomach turn, one can only imagine how their husbands must feel.
One of the philosophies on the site argues “a true football fan picks one team and only roots for and watches football when that team is playing.” WHAT?!?! A true fan will soak in as much of the sport that is out there! What if your team wasn’t the one involved in a game that had the day’s best action?!?! Besides, you can always root for your team to get the win and your individual opposing player to get the yards. Those interests are not at all mutually exclusive.
I don’t think it is right for people to be judged on how to be a fan. If you find fantasy ridiculous, then don’t play it. Obviously, the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach is going to fall on deaf ears here. If you are downright opposed to playing the game yourself (why?), that is fine. Go ahead and watch your one game without switching the channels.
But WAFS, really? What's next? A website for men called "I Thought My Wife Married Me, Not Oprah?" No, because men are perfectly capable of keeping themselves occupied. So, I highly recommend you to find something else that you are passionate about, something that is so intriguing that you want to excel at it and spend time on it. If you can respect this, then you can congratulate your partner for finding something that makes him (or her) happy, because you can share in the same gratifying personal achievement.
WAFS claims that fantasy sports can make husbands “hollow shells of former selves” and turn them into “fantasy-obsessed junkies.” Well, some people are workaholics. Some people are lazy and aimless. Know what kind of man you chose before you decide to bear his children that you were hoping he would help you raise. Of course, being out of hand is a bad thing, but would you rather the habit be something less benign? An affair or a drug habit would be much more detrimental. Fantasy sports are relatively safe; they are stimulating. Count your blessings.
Basically, it comes down to this: If fantasy sports were able to make a man out of control and distant from his family, then something else was bound to do it eventually. Yes, obsessive behavior is unhealthy, but the perpetrator is not fantasy sports; it is just how the unfortunate problem manifested. In the meantime, be thankful he is happy. If you don’t want to share in his hobby, then find one of your own. Healthy relationships require personal space, support, compromise, concessions, and acceptances. Which means I personally have to get over your refusal to play. …Working on it.