What’s up, Special Ed?! WELCOME TO PRESEASON WEEK ONE! Are you guys ready for some football or what??
Pre-season is an electric time. There’s an unmistakable energy in the air. It’s as if the summer breeze itself is being propelled by the steady, perpetual stream of NFL news. As if the mid-day heat is generated by the very intensity with which we scrutinize every play of every training camp practice. When the summer nights come alive with lights and sounds you can hardly distinguish the glow of fireflies and the chirp of cicadas from the ticking clock and flashing notifications of our mock draft apps.
It’s no secret that the DYM staff are heavy mock-drafters. Although, we follow enough off-season NFL chatter that we admittedly don’t really get that much value out of them anymore. We used to tell ourselves that these mocks are “important” to do in order to get mentally prepared for the season. We’ve even convinced ourselves that it’s important to mock draft heavily in May, June and July in order to track the shifting ADP of our targeted players. One should not just be aware of a player’s market value at draft time but also aware of the trends in the industry and public opinion that brought the player’s value to that point.
Now, is it actually beneficial to know these things before a fantasy draft? Maybe.
Are there better ways of accumulating this data than doing 100 mock drafts a month? Absolutely.
But we now know that this is not the real reason why we mock draft.
FANTASY IS REALITY
What good reason could we possibly have for spending our summer playing a fake simulation of a game within a game? The great philosopher and cultural appropriationist Alan Watts* once said that playing games is a fundamental component of all human life. In essence, "play" is any activity that we do “simply for [itself], and not for some ulterior motive.” Like a work of art, there is no goal in playing a game that is not contained within game itself."What, for instance, is the use of playing music? If you play to make money, to outdo some other artist, to be a person of culture, or to improve your mind, you are not really playing—for your mind is not on the music. You don't swing." You ought to simply enjoy the activity of playing the game, since the only purpose of the game is to be enjoyed. What other purpose could a mock draft ever have?
Although games are not necessary, meaning one is not compelled to play, a game still ought not to be taken lightly. To play a game is “not necessarily doing something frivolous … there is something in the nature of all play that is not serious, but at the same time might be sincere.” Take again the example of the musician - he is a craftsman as well as an artist. He is skilled and holds his work to an aesthetic standard. In this way there is always value in playing a game although that value does not extend beyond the game. Watts goes on to say that all of our life experiences can, and perhaps ought to be, approached this way – as if they are games -- because the meaning of life is simply to live, and although your life is not necessary to the rest of the universe, it is uniquely meaningful to you. Fantasy football likewise has a value only in and of itself, but treated with the appropriate sincerity, the depth of it's significance is unfathomable. Because we are sincere in our pursuit of a Special Ed Super Bowl we clearly understand that the goal of the fantasy football game is not merely to play, but to play well. Like master artists we apply painstaking effort to construct the perfect lineup. Playing well is by definition preferred over playing badly, and likewise we obviously prefer to win than to lose. But the reason why we play is simply the enjoyment of the game itself, we must love the journey for there may be no destination.
Fantasy sports is the game of our time. It is a unique creation of our post-modern age in that this is not only a game, but a game within a game.
Scientists recently discovered that our entire universe is actually a holographic simulation. This means that everything we see, including ourselves, is not really here at all, but actually taking place (or already has taken place) somewhere else and what we experience is merely a recreation or simulation of real events encoded onto a flat surface. Some have called this news "mind-blowing", but we would argue that it doesn’t really change much about our day-to-day. The things that seemed like they mattered yesterday still do matter today. There’s no need to let the fact that nothing is real stop us from doing real things! What does “real” even mean now anyway?
This existential crisis we all must face is really the same contention that fantasy football has always faced – "it’s not real," they say, "so why it does it even matter?" Many people who have a more traditional appreciation for the game of football still bristle at the idea that stats and analytics (that are the basis of fantasy) have made their way into the mainstream of NFL organizations and media outlets. They say that we fantasy gamers don’t appreciate the (real) NFL Game because we have made it a means to an end within our own (fake) game. The point is valid within Watts' game-playing paradigm as described above, at least in principle. In practice, though, we would argue that fantasy football is truly its own game. In many ways it exists without regard for "real" football: The fortunes of NFL teams are of just as little consequence to the Special Ed League as our personal fantasy fortunes are to the NFL. You don’t even have to watch NFL games to play fantasy football, and some would recommend that you don’t.
The fantasy game is inexorably linked to the NFL game just as the holographic simulation of life on earth is inexorably linked to the diabolical schemes of sentient robots that use our bodies to generate electricity. And the NFL is possibly just as brutal and inhumane as that “real world.”
Well, we say: "Plug us back in! We prefer fantasy."
This is the truth about mock drafts and all of fantasy football:
We don’t do it because it’s useful, we do it because it’s fun! We're mock drafting because we like playing fantasy football even when there isn’t any real football going on! Fantasy lives because we love the logical puzzle of roster building. The pressure of contending in a competitive zero-sum game is always stimulating, even if we’re only playing against a computer or eleven dullards on yahoo. Truly, the only reason anyone plays fantasy football is because the game is fun.
A lot of people who don't understand fantasy football either need to be talked into playing it or need an excuse to justify their interest in a useless game within a useless game. These people tend to rely on arguments for the game’s seriousness, meaning its impact on other parts of their life:
Their league breeds comradery and brings their friends together in a communal shared experience
They enjoy competing with friends because victories bring greater pride, and losses bring more bitter embarrassment
They think they are going to win money
They even say it makes football more enjoyable
If they truly believe any of this they will never be satisfied with the fantasy game because their joy does not come from the game itself.
They will become disinterested in your league
They will draft Gronk in the first round
They will not comment on the message board
They will stop setting their lineups in week 10
Here in 2018 -- where sports-betting is legal, and travel and communication have never been easier -- there are better ways to spend time with your friends, much better ways to make money and even better sports to watch. No one needs fantasy football to do these things. DYM is not afraid to admit that fantasy football doesn’t matter and it’s the best!
HAVE A GREAT PRESEASON EVERYBODY!
*Alan Watts quotes from: