Fantasy football flourishes throughout South

Ruby Dennis, Staff Writer

Magical unicorn quarterbacks. Wizards coaching teams of panting dwarves. Dragons throwing flags onto a field of sparkling turf. While these fantastical concepts would certainly add flavor to your average football game, they’re not fantasy football.

Fantasy football is a game played by humans based on the performance of other humans who play on NFL football teams. The NFL website eloquently explained gameplay as follows: “Acquire a roster of players (either through a draft or through autopick assignment), then set your lineup each week during the season and watch as touchdowns, field goals, yards gained, sacks, interceptions and much, much more generate fantasy points for or against your team. Whether you win or lose and climb or fall on the leaderboard all depends on how well you maximize the talent on your roster each week.” In short, use the success of football players in conjunction with your own strategies to win the tournament.

“I started out in a neighborhood league,” explained senior Andy Orton. “I was on a team with my dad for a while, I branched off [and] I got my own team, then I joined the South league, Gillette Fusion Young Guns … they’re very notorious around here.” Multiple fantasy football leagues exist at South, including one made up of past and present staff members.

Richard Nohel, a social studies teacher, is part of this staff league, which is called the South High School Fantasy Football League. “I played fantasy baseball for many years, and I thought [fantasy football] would be a good way to kind of get to know people,” said Nohel when asked why he was inspired to play the game.

So, what do people get out of fantasy football? “It’s really competitive and fun,” said Orton. “I do it with my friends and I like to showboat when I win. And I win a lot.” The thrill of doing well in the game is a large part of why people play.

Nohel commented on the suspense added to the seemingly mundane act of watching a football game. “It makes it more fun to watch [football] games, because you have more of a stake,” he said.

However, it’s not just a quest for superiority. Nohel especially enjoys the socializing aspect of the game. “It’s fun to mix it up with the other teachers,” he said. “We have a party at the beginning for the draft.” Whereas Orton’s league is made up of people he already knows, Nohel went into his without knowing as many people. “I didn’t know as many people when we started the league as I do now,” he commented.

As well as meeting new people, Nohel gets his kicks from researching players. Putting more thought into the game is an aspect that comes along with having large leagues and more unknown or less famous players. “I’d much rather have it that there’s more teams so you have to do the research of the players,” he explained. “I like it more difficult. I can’t stand it when people have leagues with 6 teams or 8 teams, because everybody gets top players and you don’t really have to know that much about football to pick them.”

To Nohel, the more participants (and therefore teams), the better. “I think it’d be fun… to have 16 teams, but I’ve never done that,” he said.

The largest draw for many players of fantasy football, though, is not just the thrill of the game or meeting new people. Gambling is a large part of the game for quite a few people. Orton’s league has a pool that awards prizes to the people whose teams take first and second place. “The commissioner generally will give like a hundred bucks to the winner, and $20 or $10 to the second place,” explained Orton. “I got second place last year.”

Nohel’s league does not involve money in the game, aside from funds for their draft party, which takes place at the beginning of the season. As an added bonus, “we have a trophy,” he said.

Many readers of the Southerner will remember that Adrian Peterson was put on the “exempt/commissioner’s permission list, essentially a suspension with pay,” according to the New York Times. Peterson was an extremely desirable football player on the field and in the drafts, and indeed a part of our own Minnesota Vikings. However, he was put on this list because he was recently discovered to have used corporal punishment on his son, at a level which may be considered child abuse.

One might think that this would negatively affect the fantasy football players that had chosen Peterson for their teams, thinking he’d be a star player. But both Orton and Nohel had drafted him, and neither of them mentioned that it had been a large problem. Orton elaborated: “I thought it was going to affect me really poorly. Luckily, I have another good running back, and he kind of took over the workload, and he’s doing a terrific job. So I am doing very well, but I wish [Peterson] would come back.”

All in all, fantasy football is a widely-played game at South, with its players reaching from administration down to average students. It seems to be fairly intense as well, with real-world events directly affecting players’ chances of winning.