This fall, fantasy football is as trendy as ever, and it has made its way to Lewis & Clark. Official leagues and online gambling websites are common, but competitive games can take place among families, groups of friends, and in the case of LC’s Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams, real sports teams.
Football has been an American pastime for almost 200 years at this point, but fantasy football is a much more recent invention. Tracing its origins back to the managers of the Oakland Raiders in 1962, fantasy football is a game in which participants draft a personal football team composed of real NFL players and use their statistics to simulate the management of a whole new franchise on the owners phone or laptop.
Frankie Reid ’24 is a captain on the Men’s Cross Country Team. As the athletic department focuses on inter-athlete community, the Men’s Cross Country team embodies this with their fantasy football league..
“We thought about making a league my freshman year but things kinda fell through,” Reid said via email. “So last year was the first year we made a fantasy football league.”
Fantasy football, with its competitive and detail-oriented nature, breeds a strong sense of engagement in players. From online forums and journalism to in-person debates, getting involved in the fantasy football community can be a real time investment if one wants.
“I think fantasy football brings out the natural competitive side in us,” Reid said. “It’s something almost all of us are a part of so that means we’re always talking about it (probably a little too much). I played in a league for a couple of years in high school but it wasn’t as competitive and high stakes as the cross country league is here.”
As Twitter and TikTok show us more on a daily basis than our ancestors saw in a lifetime, activities new and old find their audiences and swell in popularity. Fantasy football leagues are getting their moment in the sun via one of its trademarks: its punishments. For the crime of having the worst team, players can be expected to perform tasks from the inconvenient – losing money or buying rounds of drinks – to the outrageous – paintball barrages, getting tattoos. As popular posts online often show, leagues get very creative with the consequences for an underperforming draft.
“A lot of the guys talk smack to each other every week which also really ups the ante,” Reid said. “Some of our punishments are kinda inappropriate. We are doing a punishment wheel this year, so the loser has to spin the wheel and whichever punishment it lands on, they have to do. Here are some of them: spray tan, have to retake the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), wear a shock collar for 24 hours and the winner has control of it, and wear a MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat to classes for a day.”
As the real NFL season heats up, the fantasy football competition does as well. Around the United States, groups of players are battling their buddies and getting ready to dish out severe repercussions to inadequate general managers. Here at LC, that anticipation is bringing one group of athletes closer together.