Growing up, my mother watched football and cleaned while my father watched Star Trek and cooked. I acquired one hobby from each- watching football and cooking.
My mother has been a commissioner of a football pool for more than 15 years. The pool works like this: each week everyone picks the teams they think will win, and the person with the most wins at the end of the week goes home a winner. No point spreadâ€¦easy does it. There is a “trash talk” section of the website available for disgruntled losers or hot-headed winners, but the group consists of my mom’s coworkers, my aunts and uncles, and my grandma, so needless to say, I desperately bite my tongue on a weekly basis as to not cuss out those who weaseled their way to victory.
I utilize the pool to keep my mind actively up-to-date with the NFL. But most importantly, I use it as a tool to talk to boys in a sort of damsel in distress manner, if you will:
Growing up: “Hot history teacher? I’m having trouble with my homeworkâ€¦but worse, I’m having trouble picking between Dallas and Chicago. Please help!”
Now: “Hot boy at bar? What are you drinking? I can’t decide! Red or white? But the real predicament: Browns or Redskins? Please help!”
In both cases, I secure(d) one-on-one time with the men I desire(d), discussing a topic that made me a more desirable woman! I love the football pool for this – it has worked like a charm (with the exception of the history teacher, of courseâ€¦he turned out to a horrible football pool advisorâ€¦oh, and my teacher).
Last year, I took my devotion of the “sport” and trash talk to the next level- I joined Fantasy Football. The league consisted of seven gents I know from high school and one dashing young lady: yours truly! Not really understanding the rules or the idea of Fantasy Football, I wanted to participate for trash talk purposes. I crave talking trash!!! It’s the best, but please know, I can never back up what I say. I love mankind, I respect animals, I cherish my friends, I adore the gays, duh duh duh. But sometimes it feels incredible to cuss, say something racist, indulge in language that will make me out to be a pervert, compare a gay to a goat, blah blah blah. Half the time what I say doesn’t make sense and I never mean it, it justâ€¦wellâ€¦gives me a sense of empowerment during moments of weakness.
Fantasy Football works like this:
First: Muster up a bunch of friends who want to waste a lot of time and energy during the season managing a “football team” via their computer or iPhone (Blackberry phones are impossible).
Second: Pick a date and time for a draft and spend more time and energy “drafting a ‘football team'” made up of a quarter back, a few running backs, wide receivers, a kicker, defense team, a tight end, and a few more to “sit on the bench” and wait restlessly to be subbed in for injured players from your starting line-up. Each position earns and loses points for its good and bad deeds on the field: Touchdown? Many points. Interception? Many lost points from quarterback and defense. It accumulates as the games are played each Sunday, Monday and of course, some Thursdays.
The day of the draft I sat on my computer with a scrap of paper inscribed with player names and defense teams. I knew I wanted Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and Baltimore defense. I trash talked the entirety of the draftâ€¦aloneâ€¦on a computerâ€¦with a mouth of a Southern Sailor. I did not succumb to the tempting “auto-pick” and ended up with a solid team, including Manning, Wayne and Baltimore.
Third: Keep up with current events within the NFL and trade, substitute, drop, add players on your roster depending on their health, injuries, sexual mishaps, arrests, and so on. Each member of the league plays another member each week. So understanding your team and other players is crucial.
I knew aid from a boy would be a bit more complicated than my other pool because of the intricate nature of Fantasy Football. It’s not a simple “Who is San Diego playing?” â€¦It’s “Who’s your quarterback playing? Isn’t Percy Harvin suffering from migraines this week? Your defense has a bye, so you need to bench them and pick someone else up.” What?! How do you know Percy Harvin has a migraine?!?!
Answering these questions would mean disseminating my email address and password to these strange men for adequate advice so they could login themselves and tweak my team! I wasn’t that desperate, please, I could still use my other pool to make conversation. So instead, I chose to prevail alone with advice from Sportscenter. I quickly learned what players were on their period, who raped a bartender during the bye week, who to look out for in upcoming weeks, etc. The vast knowledge that ensued in my brain quickly changed my conversations from “I know Oakland can’t win,” to “Peyton Manning scored me 49 points last week because of his long pass to Reggie Wayne, who by the way is on my roster too!!!” Some scoffed at my “fantasy” talk, while others deeply cared. It felt like a quarrel between people who understand Dungeon and Dragons and those who think it is buffoonery.
It became an obsession. Sundays on the couch watching games turned into something far beyond that: an anxiety ridden stress fest of pressing “refresh” on my laptop frantically anticipating a score update. ALL DAY! I didn’t want to lose to these boys – I wanted to demolish their jugulars with my fist full of fantasy points. I remember one Sunday I had to attend a memorial barbecue at a friend’s house. I walked in and immediately turned on the TV looking around to see if anyone else seemed at all interested in the game (or judged my behavior)– Colts were playing; I NEEDED TO SEE WAYNE AND MANNING!– No one noticed except one anzy lad who also had Wayne on his fantasy roster. We stood in a corner, fixated, enthralled, pathetic for thirty minutes until the game ended. Wayne took our teams to victory that week, while we took ourselves to social despair.
Lastly: Trash talk about how much other people in the fantasy league suck each other off, duh duh duh, blah blah blah.
Being the only girl in the league, I had to prove myself through vulgarity and racist remarks while at the same time deem myself as a lady. Hmmmmm…I don’t think the latter is possible. Blast! Maybe this year, I’ll wear heels while watching the games and making trades?
Last year, I placed second and all those who fell below me accused me of “auto picking” my team during the draft. For the record, I did not. For the other record, I actively changed my team all season. For the last record, they are all sore losers bitter by their loss to a woman.
I delibarated whether or not to reinstate my position in the Fantasy Football world this year and save my self-respect from further destruction. After much internal debate and therapy, however, I chose to dip my dirty little toes into the mystical waters once again.
We drafted our teams live and in person last week (my idea so that all accusations of auto-picking would be proven wrong) in a room with laptops on each of our eager little laps. I arrived with a new scrap of paper inscribed with notes. I knew I wanted Peyton Manning, but had the 5th pick in the first round, which meant choosing a RB over a QB (that’s what everyone advised me to doâ€¦ugh). Anxiety swarmed my body after drafting Ray Rice as my firstâ€¦I hoped that Peyton and my soul would be unscathed by someone else in the next round.
“Anderson Carrson” shattered my dreams when he snagged Manning two picks before me. I yelled with rage and threw my pen across the room. “She must be on her period,” they concluded after my fit. Not for another two weeks, boysâ€¦TWO WEEKS!!!
The draft continued, I picked a stealthy team all the while shit-talking in a chat room to everyone who, by the way, all sat in the same room (we agreed we would only type the things we felt uncomfortable saying out loud).
I left that evening without my pen, my dignity and Peyton Manning. However, I did gain Carson Palmer and yet another season that, although written in fantasy, is nothing less than a daunting reality.
May the best team win, you pieces of shit.