Fantasy sports shouldn’t get in the way of fanhood

Michael Barthelemy, Sports Editor

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It’s a cold Friday night at Lazier Field and Evanston squares off against New Trier in a battle for the CSL title. With less than a minute remaining, the Trevians face fourth-and-goal. A stop by the Wildkits’ defense would mean glory for all of ETHS. But as the Trevians set up for the play of the game, you find yourself rooting against your own school because you drafted John Miller, the Trevians’ QB, to your fantasy football team, and a touchdown here would mean glory over your
entire league of 12.

For most fans who play fantasy sports, their priorities claim to be: first, their hometown team, such as ETHS and secondly, their fantasy team.

Though as we grow older and fantasy league rewards become bigger, these lines seem to quickly cross. What once felt like a casual hobby has transformed into a billion-dollar industry that people have created a livelihood on.

While fantasy sports are a great outlet for fans to show off their knowledge, it has also created a lack of commitment towards the apparent number one priority: your hometown team. No matter how much one may deny it, fantasy sports has created a way for fans to root against their own team’s aspirations.

For example, I am an avid Green Bay Packers fan (not the most popular move), yet in my fantasy football league, I drafted the Chicago Bears defense, forcing me to root for my team’s most bitter rival.

While I would still root for the Packers, I was subconsciously rooting for the Bears at the same time, going against the previously established list of priorities. Hoping for a game where the Bears’ defense played well while still losing is something that’s both contradictory and difficult to pull off week after week.

On top of all of that, if you do honor that list of priorities and choose to draft a number of players from your favorite team to your fantasy team, you not only set yourself up for failure, but also have to face a barrage of insults from everyone else in your league calling you a “homer” like it’s the worst offense one could commit in fantasy sports.

Now I’m not saying we need to abolish fantasy sports. I’m just saying that if you do choose to play fantasy sports, don’t try to juggle the responsibility of repping your favorite team and your fantasy team. In order to truly get the most out of either option, one priority needs to be compromised for the sake of the other.

Rooting for your favorite NFL team while also rooting against them for fantasy points is an unhealthy habit and creates a lack of commitment that could seep into your life outside of sports.

I may be making it out to feel like a hopeless balance, but there are definitely ways to draft a fantasy team that doesn’t create a scenario of rooting against your team: 1. Refrain from drafting players in the same division as your favorite team. These teams will play your favorite squad most often and often rival teams lie within the division. 2. Prioritize drafting players from your favorite team. If you’re facing a situation where you are between a handful of players to draft, try and go for the player who is on your favorite team or you know won’t play your favorite team.

I know this may not seem like a pressing issue and to be honest with you, it really isn’t. But trying to balance fantasy and reality is an unhealthy lifestyle to live and for most fans, they don’t even realize they’re doing it.