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Monday, September 8, 2008

And Where Would You Get the Water-Safe Helmets?

You know about "fantasy" sports, right? Fantasy Football and Fantasy Basketball and Fantasy Baseball. If you love sports, these are no doubt your fantasy. You get to play team owner and draft players from any professional team in the sport to create a fantasy team of epic proportions. The only limit on whom you can draft is that you are typically playing in a league with a group of other people who are also picking teams -- and just like in real life, two teams can't both have dibs on Peyton Manning. Then, there are complex systems of point assignments that have to do with how many points the players on your fantasy team score in real life in their games, as well as how many yards they run or rush or pass or whatever. You have a roster of more players than are allowed on the field in a real game, and you choose whom to play each week. You win and lose "games" in contests against other team owners in your league based on how many points the players on each team rack up. And you even get to playoffs.

If you aren't a sports fan, that paragraph above probably read like this: blah blah blah blah blah blah Peyton Manning blah blah blah blah blah blah points blah blah blah blah blah blah playoffs. *snore*

If you aren't a sports fan but you live with someone who is, I'm pretty sure you read this: Ah, yes, Fantasy Football, the bane of my existence. Now, not only does my _________ [fill in the blank with relationship name of your choice, such as "darling husband"] have to follow the every move of the teams to which he has long-time loyalties; he also has to watch every single football game broadcast on any channel anywhere because his Fantasy team includes players from all of them, and he needs to know how many points he got this week. Which means approximately 984 hours of football per week from now until the Superbowl in early February. By which time basketball season will have already started, so there will be simulcast picture-in-picture watching of football games AND basketball games so as not to miss any of the possible points that Fantasy Basketball team players rack up.

Which means: it's hard to get anything productive done on the weekends from September through May.

As if football, basketball and baseball weren't enough fake sports to stack up to make family daytrips on Saturdays a difficulty, this summer, I heard they'd introduced Fantasy Golf. I just find that amusing, since it's such a solitary rather than team sport, and I can't really imagine how that all works... Everyone playing gets just one player? I don't know.

But here's something I learned all about today while running on the treadmill at the gym, something I'll bet you've never heard of, something so over-the-top that really, it deserves the name "Fantasy" even just for its gutsy weirdness: Fantasy Fishing.

Yes, you read that right. You can now participate in Fantasy Fishing. The best part? The tag line on the television was "Just like Fantasy Football--But with Fish!" And there was a fantastic animated graphic of two beefy-looking bass decked out in football helmets butting heads like angry goats to emphasize the comparison.

Seriously, I could not make this up if I tried.

And here's the thing: if Fantasy Fishing actually WERE just like Fantasy Football with fish, I'd be all over that. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to try to wrestle a whole bunch of testosterone-crazed pumped-up trout into shoulder pads and uniforms? How great it would be to see human team owners fighting over the mute muskies they wanted on their teams? How interesting it would be to watch coaches underwater screaming plays at knuckle-headed catfish who refuse to run the 3-4 defense and instead just scurry along the bottom looking for some sludge?

But you see, here's where that comparison falls sadly short: if in Fantasy Football you draft players from various teams and care about their points, then in Fantasy Fishing, you don't actually draft fish. You draft fisher-folk. Anglers. Guys and gals with poles in their hands.

They don't play on teams or have coaches. They don't have any baby-mama-dramas or ostentatious necklaces. They don't tend to get tackled by other anglers, producing unexpected season-ending injuries that make your first-round draft choice suddenly and completely into a dud.

They just sit in boats, toss back a few cold ones, and fish.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not in the least implying that fishing is not a sport that requires tremendous skill. I have huge respect for anyone who can land in just a few hours five fish that collectively weigh over 30 pounds. What I am saying, however, is that it doesn't seem like a sport with enough drama to warrant a fantasy. It's not like you'd have to decide strategically whom to play each week based on injuries. Your winnings will be based as much on the luck of which fish bite as on the skill it takes to land them. It's sort of like turning high stakes poker into a Fantasy game where you manage teams of poker players. It could work. But how exciting would it be?

Unless of course, you are this guy, who won $100,000 playing Fantasy Fishing one weekend in May. No, he is not a professional angler. No, he did not have to suit up, buy a bass boat, or do anything other than pay his nominal online entry fee, draft a "team," stock his cooler, and turn on the television. $100,000.

The most I've ever heard of anyone winning at the end of an entire SEASON of Fantasy Football is about $600.


Even though the head-butting fish make no sense whatsoever to explain this sport, and even though I can't figure out how it would be fun to play, I am willing to admit that Fantasy Fishing does have its charms.

Not least of which is that $100,000 in prize money for one weekend of devotion to the television sounds so much more family-friendly than six long months of football. And $1,000,000 for the winning "owner" of the Fantasy Fishing team with the most points at the end of the tournament season isn't so bad either. With that kind of prize money, I'd say Fantasy Fishing might just be the only sport around that really lives up to its fantasy name.


MIQuilter said...

Those Fantasy sports just seem to get more and more relaxing. I'm holding out for Fantasy Sleeping. It could be a championship of 6 month olds for who could sleep the longest number of consecutive hours. I'm drafting the family with the parent that works for the pharmecutical company. cha-ching!

All Adither said...

Every day I'm grateful that my huz isn't into sports.

angie said...

You know, I always feel guilty about your husband's fantasy football playing. :-)

Jaina said...

You know, I've never quite gotten Fantasy sports.

Insta-mom said...

My husband plays Fantasy Football (so I usually spend football season yelling, "You played him this week? What were you thinking?" because I'm crazy obsessed like that and no one wants to let me play with them). But that much money for Fantasy Fishing...I think we may need to change our chosen fantasy career.

Aimeepalooza said...

Well, at least they don't have fantasy buck hunting because I'd seriously have to kill someone. I hate watching the hunting/fishing channel on TV...but every time I wake up I have a family full of boys clapping and screaming. How bad would it be if they could win money???

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I'm with MIQuitler! Fantasy sleeping, yeah, now that's something I can embrace! Literally!

Momo Fali said...

My husband lost his chances at winning fantasy football this year with Tom Brady's season ending injury yesterday. I'm totally telling him about the fishing.

Mrs F with 4 said...

Fantasy Sleeping? Pah, with Fantasy Cricket, you can have all that, and less.

The only game in the civilised world that goes on for FIVE DAYS and at the end of it, you STILL don't have a result.

conversemomma said...

Okay, I grew up with a dad that would rather watch or do fly fishing that any other sport around. I can not let him find out about this. Seriously, it might wreck his marriage to my mom. He would be A.D.D.I.C.T.E.D!

MommyTime said...

OOOH, yes, I vote for fantasy sleeping too! What a good idea.

Ang, don't feel guilty, honest. I'm joking (mostly). I can always get the REALLY fun stuff or the REALLY big chores done; there's always DVR. :) Or I can blog while he watches games. It's only while the kids are awake that it's hard.

Aimeepalooza, you crack me up!

Conversemama, good luck keeping that fantasy fishing away from him. Though, honestly, it might be worth the addiction if he wins $1,000,000!

Amy said...

I actually have a friend that played the Fantasy Fishing before it took off. Now he's all bummed that the secret is out.
I am on the couch with the guys on Sundays, I love me some Fantasy Football and I'm pretty good at it too!

lattemommy said...

Oh, I am so not telling my husband that you can win serious money at something as ridiculous as that. As if WoW and fantasy hockey weren't taking up enough of his time already. Aaaargh!

Ree said...

I heard about this fantasy fishing stuff and had much the same reaction. Although, honestly, Real Life fishing is weird to me, too.


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