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September 04, 2012 8:04 am

CULTURE SHOCK: The reality of my fantasy

Written by Dante Geoffrey

About 20 years ago I made a decision – an unequivocal mistake – that will limit the amount of pleasure I ultimately experience in my life. I pledged my allegiance to the San Francisco 49ers.

Let me be clear that the mistake was not in the team I chose to root for. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any team anyone chooses to root for. (Except the Raiders, I mean, what the hell’s wrong with you?) The reasons behind rooting for a certain team are mostly arbitrary, but that goes for 99 percent of sports fans.

The problem lies within rooting for a team at all.

This realization has slowly become more clear as I’ve aged, but has crystallized with the help of my love of, and involvement in, fantasy football.

Fantasy sports – especially fantasy football – have been an all-encompassing past-time for sports fans for an irresponsible amount of years.

But even with its vast popularity, fantasy sports have always also been a sidekick to actual sports. Sports were great on their own, and fantasy sports added something extra.

But after competing in fantasy sports for 15 years, I’m starting to consider it the main event.

There is no doubting fantasy sports’ ability to increase the entertainment value of any given game. If you’ve ever watched a Monday Night Football game with your fantasy team down by seven with just a kicker remaining, you know what I mean.

In many ways, fantasy sports is at a disadvantage. The most obvious reason is that it is 100 percent reliant on the existence of real sports.

But, it also has one major quality that appeals in a way real sports could never replicate.

The power of influence.

I have zero influence over “my” teams. As much as I’d like to believe it, the reality is my yelling and beer drinking did not help Cody Ross swing his mighty bat against Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLCS. I did not guide Alex Smith’s arm to the perfect throw that won last year’s divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.

And even though I was happy about those victories, I knew it was a hollow joy.

It makes little sense to be more proud of the accomplishments of a group of nearby strangers than your own accomplishments.

Yea, the Super Bowl is held in higher regard than claiming victory against semi-knowledgable fans managing their teams in mid-management cubicles. But basing pride and ego on your own successes holds a bit more value than living vicariously through athletes who “love” their fans until they sign a big free agent contract and “love” their new fans.

Am I saying I would rather beat my dumb friends (yea, you heard me members of the State Hornet league) than see the San Francisco 49ers win the Super Bowl?

Probably not. I don’t know. Maybe. I think so.

If there’s anything the San Francisco Giants’ world series run taught me, it’s that the moments immediately following your team’s greatest victory are fleeting.

The sports media moves on, the rest of the sport’s fans move on and ultimately, you move on too.

If the 49ers win the Super Bowl this year, what do I get to say? I don’t get to say “I won.” I get to say “The team I chose to root for won.”

Only the players of the Super Bowl champions actually get to walk around feeling prideful (while neglecting to stay in shape) during the offseason.

The day following victory, fans go back to work and back to life just as it was the day before their favorite team won, but with the added regret of dropping $50 on an office pool.

But the feeling of fulfillment, even for something as childish as a fantasy football league, is something a little more tangible, and a lot more personal. My decisions made me the best. Who cares if it’s best at something everyone pretty much agrees is immature? I competed, and I won. There’s something to be said for that.

But, next weekend, when the 49ers travel to Green Bay to battle the NFC-powerhouse Packers, I will be back in my chair doing all the yelling and beer drinking I can to will my team to victory.

I have made a huge mistake.

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