Commentary, Sports

Game on, phones down

Sports has the ability to completely change your day. The smell of the field, the crisp air of a rink or the crunch of the cleats on the ground. Whatever your sport is you know the feeling when you watch your team play and everything else melts away. The fixation on fantasy sports is threatening that experience.

I despise fantasy sports. I know I’m the odd man out, but fantasy kills the spirit of sports which brings people together to play. In contrast, fantasy sports creates an environment in which individual statistics are glorified and outshines team play.

It may be a fun and different way to get people involved in sports, but it kills my major sports fan soul.

I began watching hockey with my uncle before I could crawl. Being a hockey fan was something I was born into and it quickly became a fascination of mine. I have crazy team loyalty and my love for the Ducks is deeper than just being a fan.

You know that movie “Fever Pitch” where Jimmy Fallon is all obsessed with the Red Sox? That’s basically me with the Ducks. I have a different jersey for every day of the week, and my love runs so deep I could see myself being just like the movie and having to avoid hearing about the game until I have a chance to watch it.

Hockey means more to me than just two and a half hours of skating, boarding and fights. It’s free therapy for me, and everything about hockey gives me a sense of pride that I haven’t found in anything else. The smell of the ice, the environment of the rink, the numerous jerseys my closet is riddled with — it’s all important to me.

Seeing people use the sport I love so much as a form of betting or an ego boost among friends hurts my heart.

Betting is a big part of fantasy sports, which is a double edged sword. Where betting can get a new fan into the game it can cause a seasoned one to change how they view the game. A true fan has team allegiance as opposed to being obsessed with only winning based on particular players.

Stats are everything in fantasy, which deters from the sport itself. Fantasy players are attached to their phones and looking at who performs the best instead of simply enjoying the game. It gets to the point where fans even root against their own teams because of their obsession with winning that week. A fan would just watch and enjoy the game unlike a fantasy player. Now I get that some people aren’t fully into either and just play fantasy to try to get into the sport, however, a better way to get into the sport would be to just watch the game.

When I’ve played fantasy hockey, my team loyalty either hinders me during the draft and causes me to combine my favorite players onto one team, or turns into a dream laundry list of every athlete I wish was on my team. During the season I went from watching my team and being engrossed in the game to being entranced with player stats and trades instead.

According to a poll by Lend, fantasy players commit an average of 8 hours a week to the game.

Fantasy sports dehumanizes players. Basketball, hockey and football are all fundamentally team sports, but with the addition of fantasy, a forward, defenseman, kicker, guard, goalie and lineman are treated much like a stat.

Let’s continue loving sports, but just keep your statistical and competitive game on the field instead of your screen.

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