I remember as a kid my mom would drop me and my buddies off at the local movie theater and high school kids would cruise the parking lot. For the uninitiated, cruising was a late 1970s mating ritual in which teenagers would drive around the shopping center for hours in hopes to hook up. Occasionally, you’d see a guy clearly in his late 20’s, maybe early 30’s sporting a souped-up muscle car and you’d just cringe, vacillating between feelings of pity and loathing for the guy.
Now at 54 years old, I’m wondering, am I that dude? No, I’m not out cruising the parking lots. But I am in my 15th year of playing fantasy football. I have played in the same 12-team league, with many new guys (and a girl once) rotating in and out and I’ve always been the old man. It never seemed odd, but now for some reason, nearing my mid-50s, I have some doubts. I can’t imagine my father or any older man I’ve known playing a fantasy game at my age now. But I’m embracing what Oprah said, “50 is the new 30” and I’ll offer 5 reasons why every man (and woman) with a love for football should play fantasy football.
Play Fantasy Football Like You Eat Your Food
If you’re like me, you love food, right? And salt just makes food better, can I get an amen? Fantasy football has the same effect. It enhances what you already love and seasons it with feelings of ownership, competition, and camaraderie. You can’t wait for gamedays to yell at your TV screen. Every Wednesday morning is a bit like Christmas. You wake to see if you got the hot waiver wire players you wanted. And every day is a day to troll league mates rosters looking for a good trade. Fantasy makes the sport interactive for fat old men like me who can’t even throw a football anymore and who lack the dexterity to handle more than 2 buttons on the NFL Madden remote controllers.
And your significant life partner will gush with pride when you bring home the fantasy football championship belt.
Huddle Up With Your Fantasy Football Buddies
No man is an island, but as we get older men sometimes become more isolated. It’s not a good thing. But fantasy football creates an environment in which men can connect with the outside world over a common, passionate interest. I’ve met and made many great friends over my 15 years of playing, including two of my best friends. Granted, we have a local league, hold a live, in-person draft, and occasionally get together for beers, wings, and unadulterated trash talk, but some level of camaraderie can be enjoyed in online leagues, as well. Most fantasy football apps have a chat platform, but I suggest one more robust like Discord or GroupMe. They facilitate and foster ongoing conversations and my favorite part of the game, trash talk. Use pics, GIFs, text, and even record and upload your own videos to sneak into your opponent’s head. For us old men who play fantasy football, it’s a great way to stay engaged with other people, especially the younger folks, over a shared interest.
We’re On the Same Team
Fantasy football unites, not divides. We live in such a divisive, difficult time now, but I have learned over the last 15 years that fantasy football has a power that can be used for good. It gives me something to talk about with almost anybody. This goes beyond just my league mates. According to an ESPN article, about 40 million people in the United States play fantasy football. So, no matter where you go and who you meet, there’s a great chance you’ll have something in common in which to talk. Fathers and sons (or daughters) also benefit from the bonding effect of fantasy football. My teenage son and I play together in a secondary league which gives us much to talk about during the week and while watching games.
Playing Fantasy Football Keep Your Brain In the Game
Playing fantasy football keeps your mind active and sharp. Things change after 50. If you’re there already, you know I’m telling no lies. But an avid fantasy football player, one actively involved on a daily basis, is analyzing stats, evaluating and negotiating trade offers, scouring the waiver wire, studying matchups, deciding start/sits, and reading fantasy articles. All of these activities are like grinding a knife against a stone maintaining and sharpening your cognitive abilities.
Call a Time Out From Stress
The fifth and final reason for old men to play fantasy football is that it’s fun! Life is stressful. Will I have enough to retire? How can I afford my daughter’s wedding? Do I really have cataracts? Is my company going to replace me with someone younger? My goodness! We need a pleasant distraction from the daily worries and concerns – a pressure relief valve that’s innocent and keeps us out of trouble. And nothing is more fun than trash-talking, negotiating trades, and employing psychological warfare on your league mates to soften them up for trade offers. Well, yes, there is one thing that’s more fun – winning! But fantasy football can even teach us a few life lessons when we lose.
One final note in the event you catch this article midseason. You and your friends can get your feet wet by competing against each other on FanDuel. It’s a daily fantasy site in which you choose an entry fee and draft a brand new team every week. Create private contests with up to 20 people and the person with the high score takes home the money. No need to worry about in-season roster management, waiver wire, or trades.
You’re Not Too Old to Play Fantasy Football
If you already love football, by all means, shake a little salt on it by rallying your buddies together to play fantasy football. And don’t worry if you’re the oldest man in the league. You’ll get used to the boomer jokes and old man walking with a cane GIFs. Pay them back on Monday nights at about 9 pm by posting a selfie watching the game with a glass of bourbon in your hand while they are putting their kids to bed. But give it a shot. I think you’ll discover that fantasy football is the best thing since slip-on Skechers because lord knows we can’t reach our feet to tie our shoes any longer.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to start a fantasy football league.
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