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June 19, 2021

Welcome to fantasyland

Every now and then, I wonder who knows more about sports: the
writer or the reader. The amount of information available to rabid
fans is near limitless, and the amount of time those fans can
devote to their research depends on the level of obsession.
So, when I rallied the troops for my third annual fantasy
football draft this past weekend – where my college buddies and I
spend roughly three hours yelling, making inappropriate hand
gestures, dismissing each other’s sports knowledge, drinking beer
and making more inappropriate hand gestures – it became abundantly
clear to me that just because I spend five days a week talking and
writing about sports doesn’t automatically mean I spend more time
per week thinking about sports than some people.
Every now and then, I wonder who knows more about sports: the writer or the reader. The amount of information available to rabid fans is near limitless, and the amount of time those fans can devote to their research depends on the level of obsession.

So, when I rallied the troops for my third annual fantasy football draft this past weekend – where my college buddies and I spend roughly three hours yelling, making inappropriate hand gestures, dismissing each other’s sports knowledge, drinking beer and making more inappropriate hand gestures – it became abundantly clear to me that just because I spend five days a week talking and writing about sports doesn’t automatically mean I spend more time per week thinking about sports than some people.

What started as a league of football fans picking guys based on how they feel about a particular player has evolved into a geek squad that tracks numbers like statisticians.

Of the eight guys seated in a Hooters restaurant near Sacramento on Saturday – don’t act like this isn’t one of the top five places you’ve ever heard of holding a draft – one had several fantasy football books he had already read cover to cover, one had his own personal rankings of the top 100 players on his laptop, and another had gone to Kinko’s hours before to print 20 pages of statistical analysis, some of which even he couldn’t explain.

Now, you might still be caught up on the fact that the draft was held at Hooters of all places. The reason for such a location certainly wasn’t the food. But I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong. There is one reason and one reason only we held the draft at such a place: ambience. The service wasn’t bad, either.

With money on the line, though, no one was about to allow himself to be too distracted. Occasionally there were reaches of epic proportions (see the enigmatic Brandon Marshall being taken in the fourth round), which resulted in laughter and mock congratulations, but everyone seemed to be more focused than in seasons past. And having eight teams in the league this year, every roster was loaded by the end of the final round (see Terrell Owens being taken in the fourth round).

I returned home Sunday wondering if my team has much of a chance this season. I did more research than in years past, which left me second-guessing everything. Then I wondered whether my sports knowledge is slipping or if my friends are just catching up.

Then I realized the difference to being a sports writer and fan really isn’t that drastic.

It’s just that one gets paid to spend their time thinking about those who play, while the other pays for their knowledge in free time and money.

Of course, it could be said sports writers who do both live in the fantasyland known as Obsession (which can be found in the banquet room of Hooters).

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