Living the Fantasy

Play in a football league without scandal or greed


by Tony Basilo They set up a Christmas tree although it was 95 degrees outside. It was literally Big Boy Christmas last week in beautiful Norris. We were at Brian's for our annual fantasy football draft. Ours was no different than the other fantasy football drafts that have taken place all over the country for the past couple of weeks, except that we had a cake that said â“Merry Big Boy Christmasâ” on it.  

Over 40 million people, mostly men, now take part in the annual pastime that has empowered them to actually own the game they love. In our realm, fantasy football is an escape from the money, drugs, greed and dissension that has come to mark the sport these days. So, it was time for what my radio co-host Beano terms â“Big Boy Christmas.â”

In their greed, the major sports leagues claim to own the statistics that drive the games, thus looking for a way to fleece the public and capitalize on the craze. So far, they've had no luck in the courts, but multiply 40 million by $10 and you could have enough for Travis Henry to pay his child support.

Before we got down to our draft, it was time to honor one of our own. Ben, a coach and teacher at Bearden Middle School, was turning 33. So we did what any group of men would do and sang â“Happy Birthday.â” Yes, we sang and celebrated. The great thing about fantasy football is that it's not about winning and losing but about being a part of something that is our own. It's about momentary bragging rights, minutiae, and good, clean fun. True fellowship in the purest sense. What sports should be about. Community. Inclusion. A melting pot of cultures and backgrounds.

Besides the Christmas tree and cake, there was also a full spread on the table that would make any Mary Kay agent green with envy. I'm talkin' hors d'oeuvres, finger foods, etc. Brian did it up right!

There were a couple of ground rules to go over before our draft, but first there was the acknowledgment of last year's winner. Except that no one could remember who won the league last year. The champion had to be reminded that it was, alas, he who won it all, and he sheepishly accepted our congratulations. Fantasy sports aren't about winning it all but winning week to week and, more succinctly, moment to moment. Sadly, you will find me on Sunday afternoon checking the scores on the computer in real time. Every 15 minutes brings a new high or low. Complete stupidity.

One league is not enough for me, so I'm in the ultimately ridiculous band of geeks known as the Atomic FFL. We have a salary cap; 26-man rosters; full line-ups of offensive and defensive players; head coaches; special teams, and game prognostications. Utter absurdity.

The draft for that league was held at Ray's ESG on Kingston Pike beginning at 5:30 p.m. I showed up in sweat pants left over from the '80s, black shoes, white socksâ"un-showered and all. Imagine the looks on the twentysomething crowd at 11 p.m. as the 22-round draft dragged on in the midst of all the hotties and cutie-pie guys? It was a true sight. It was as if we were playing shuffleboard in the middle of their dance floor. The looks were priceless. Caption bubbles would have no doubt said, â“I mean, who are those guys? Look at those nerds with their laptops and that goofy chart. Oh my gosh, why are they all acting like such geeks?â”

Speaking for myself, I resemble that remark. I love fantasy sports. And for this I'm part of a 40 million-man movement that is making geekdom cool. Merry Big Boy Christmas fellow fantasy losers. Now let the games begin.

Tune in and talk sports with Tony Basilio weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio WVLZ 1180 AM.   Visit for more information.


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