It’s the bottom of the ninth inning and your favorite MLB team is trailing by one with runners on second and third. Your team’s RBI leader is at the plate and a base hit could bring in two runs to win the game for your team and send them to the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.
"Come one, strike him out," you shout at your television screen, supporting the opposing pitcher who is trying to ruin your favorite team’s chances of winning and making the playoffs.
Or perhaps it’s later in the year and your favorite NFL team’s kicker is lining up for a game-winning, 47-yard field goal with just three seconds left on the clock, trailing 21-20. Your beloved team is 5-6 on the season and really needs a win to get some momentum to make a run at the playoffs.
"Miss it! Miss it," you exclaim sending negative vibes towards the man who is bearing the weight of keeping momentum alive with a win on his shoulders.
It would seem that you should want the hitter for your team to get that base hit and bring in the tying and winning runs, or that you should want that kicker to send the football sailing through the uprights, sending your teams to victory. Why is it, then, that you are hoping for the exact opposite?
Well, because the opposing pitcher is on your fantasy baseball team and by striking out your favorite team’s hitter, he will gain a valuable two points for your fantasy team and the kicker is on your opponent’s fantasy team and a successful field goal would mean that your fantasy football team is still outside of the playoff hunt.
Sports fans around the entire country are sacrificing cheering for their favorite teams so that they can cheer for a win in their fantasy leagues, hoping to gain bragging rights against their friends.
Every year, sports fans throw their real-team pride in the garbage when they sit down for chicken wings, beer, pizza, chips and salsa, and of course their draft, where they will pick players from all over the league of the sport they are playing so they can battle against their friends all year long.
For years and years, fans all over the world have gone to stadiums and arenas, wearing the colors of their favorite teams, ready to cheer loud, jump around and feel the pride of being a fan with hundreds or thousands of fellow fans.
Many people, nowadays, elect to sit in their "owner’s luxury sweet," for me that is my couch with the games on my TV, my computer, and maybe even my tablet, so that I can cheer on my favorite teams, but also keep track of my fantasy players, who are usually in charge of whether or not I can face my friends on Tuesday, after the final fantasy scores have been posted.
With a 2-2 count and your favorite team’s leading batter at the plate, the opposing pitcher, your fantasy team’s pitcher, hurls the pitch towards the plate. The batter swings with all his might and misses. Strike three.
You cheer for the two points and the victory your fantasy baseball team just secured, but your stomach turns, knowing that the real baseball team that you’ve cheered for since you were six years old, missed the playoffs one more time and their season would be ending early this year.
After a timeout to ice the kicker, he steps on to the field, determined to keep your favorite NFL team in the playoff hunt, well after the halfway point in the season. The long snapper snaps the ball to the backup quarterback, who holds the ball down while the kicker sends the ball towards the goal posts.
The ball sails through the uprights, sealing victory for both your favorite NFL team and your fantasy opponent this week. You cheer, knowing that your favorite football team is still alive in the playoff hunt, but your stomach turns, knowing that you will not be joining your friends for dinner tomorrow night to avoid them harassing you over your recent fantasy loss.
Fantasy sports can bring triumph and it can bring defeat all in one short moment.
While some might say this takes away from the game, it makes fans turn on their own teams, you can’t deny that it makes more active fans and helps get people more involved and more aware of what is happening all across the leagues.
People who aren’t otherwise football fans, might tune into the big game on Sunday to track their fantasy players and they might even spend some money at a local restaurant or bar that is showing the game on TV.
I can honestly admit that while I was once on a pep band trip in Oakland while I was in college, I made a decision to go to see the Raiders host the Broncos because I had Darren McFadden in my starting lineup that week.
So in one situation I can actually say that I made a decision to buy a ticket and go to a stadium (that seemed to be falling apart) and take in a game with fantasy football implications for me.
While I think the arguments against fantasy sports are valid, I think it does some good for a lot of people, even beoynd sports.