Fantasy Fan Culture

I’ve been in the same fantasy football league for years now, and the guys who are in it with me are my good friends. Most of us are still in college, but a few graduated last year and the year before and are in the area working. Those older guys in the group are starting to get a bit fatigued with the culture of our little group, and I think maybe I agree with their concerns. This is a hard-drinking group, and I’m getting sick of partying hard on NFL Sundays. There’s lots of booze at the draft each year and the prize for winning the league is – you guessed it – booze. How can we fix our fantasy football league and make it work for our increasingly mature friend group?

It sounds as if you already know what needs to change about your fantasy football league: you need to cut back on the booze in a big way. You strongly imply that your league indulges in a lot of binge drinking, which is a very unhealthy habit. Binge drinking is a dangerous epidemic among college students, with about 2 out of every 3 college drinkers indulging beyond reasonable limits. And, of course, you have pointed out that this kind of drinking is even less compatible with a mature, professional life than it is with an academic career. As we get older, our hangovers get worse and our bodies become less able to help us manage our bad habits – plus, ideally, we become a bit more mature and a bit more aware of just how dumb the things we are doing really are.

But as much as you seem to understand the big problem here, it also seems as if you view your fantasy football league’s culture as pretty integral to the fun of the league. That’s too bad, because fantasy sports are plenty fun without the help of alcohol. Perhaps it’s time to sit down with your league and raise your concerns. By talking with your friends, you may be able to see what you’re really enjoying about this league – beyond the booze.

One thing that could help might be substituting other things for booze in the league’s culture. For instance, why not buy a little less beer for the draft this year, and invest instead in some better food? Maybe you’ll have enough left over for a big sticker draft board or some other thing that will make the whole experience more fun (and you’ll remember the fun – and interact more meaningfully with your friends – thanks to being a bit more sober). The same goes for the game watches, of course!

And there’s really no reason to have booze serve as the reward for a big fantasy win. That’s something that anyone (or anyone of age, anyway) can buy at the liquor store, so why not ditch that prize and replace it with something more fun? Fantasy football rings are a popular choice in many leagues, suggest the cultural gurus at Fantasy Champs, as are fantasy football trophies. You could get something engraved for the winner, or could do something more sentimental, like offer the winner a group photo of the league – you could get it blown up on a large canvas print. Whether earnest or cheeky, a personalized memento is infinitely more likely to bring a smile to your face years down the line than a bottle of booze long since drank.

Ultimately, the thing that makes your league great is the people in it, so why not emphasize that in the prizes, draft, and game-watches?

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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