by Kevin Burton
Managing a fantasy football team has totally changed the way I watch the NFL. And it may have given me insight into post-national America.
In fantasy sports, you draft and “manage” a handful of players you predict will do well, pitting your team against other teams created in the same way.
I have been watching NFL football since the 70s, since before the Tampa Bay and Seattle franchises were born, generally rooting for the Ohio teams and the Raiders.
Now with a fantasy team, my focus has switched and narrowed to my players only. So now it is close to irrelevant what a particular team does except inasmuch as it affects the individual players on my fantasy team.
I call it “fantasy brain” and it’s a real thing.
For example, Green Bay and Cincinnati played a strange game recently where both teams missed multiple field goals with a chance to win the game. Consequently the game went deep into overtime.
Who was I rooting for? I like both teams, but I was hoping they would go on missing field goals for a while because each team had one of my fantasy wide receivers. All the more chance for my players to catch more passes and get me more points.
It mattered to me that Green Bay won, only because the Green Bay kicker in on my fantasy team. I got four more points for the winning field goal.
If my Cleveland running back fumbles, that’s a disaster, minus two fantasy points. But if the other Cleveland back fumbles, or his quarterback team mate throws an interception, that means nothing. My guy didn’t do it so I don’t care.
Basically, I have lost track of the bigger NFL picture. In fact, I have rejected the bigger NFL picture.
This change of thinking didn’t take long.
The accomplishments of my players, measured in statistics, have been yanked from the context of their team, placed into the context of a fake team that I define.
Well that’s fine if all we’re talking about is football. But is this not analogous to what is going on in the modern United States?
Do we not have people defining what America is and is not, based on “fantasy teams” they have constructed in their own minds? People who look and think like them, that’s America. All others are the enemy.
Are people not making decisions, taking actions, based on the well-being of that fantasy team and not the country as a whole? They have their narrow focus and all else be damned. Give me victory in my handful of issues and who cares about whatever else happens.
I don’t write about divided America much because others are in a much better position to follow events well and because it depresses and frustrates me.
I have used the term “post-national” from time to time on page 7 without defining it well. People should be able to understand it by context.
But just in case, what I mean is that the United States of America I grew up in has ceased to exist. We haven’t had the full-on upheaval that will make it visibly irrefutable, but it’s over.
It’s just like a marriage that goes wrong. The marriage has ceased to exist long before the divorce papers are served. What you have left is terms of separation.
I can assure you I would love to be wrong about this post-national business.
Also, my analogy is a vast oversimplification of the many and complex problems confronting the United States.
It’s just a thought that struck me as I was surfing the waiver list for serviceable running backs.