The Flawed Timing of Fantasy Football

“Can Matt Ryan take a team to the Super Bowl?”

“How could you lose against the dog last week?”

“Why do I keep losing with that many points from Peyton? Is anyone else playing out there?!”

Distracted boys.

Globs of oatmeal on the kitchen table, spoons frozen mid-journey to debate rankings, Super Bowl chances, quarterback records, and fantasy teams.

Lots of 6 a.m. chatter.

“You lost to the dog again!”

“The Buccaneers are going down!”

Missing sports pages.

Thousands of “I just need to check my fantasy team” when they should be…
tying shoes
eating breakfast
memorizing vocabulary words
studying metamorphosis, maps, math and Mesopotamia
brushing teeth
practicing guitar
eating, playing, bathing, sleeping
listening to their mother…

…who wishes that football season and the start of school did not collide like this.

Thanks to the Victor

Last weekend, our Family Fantasy Football League had its Super Bowl – its much-discussed trophy, the ability to choose a special dinner.  Had the dog won, we all vowed to eat bacon for a day. I was gunning for a nice restaurant, anything I did not have to plan or cook.

In the end, however, our 2013 Family Fantasy Super Bowl pitted Dad’s Rockin’ Red Peppers against our fifth grader’s Team Orion. A poor showing this season by the Atlanta Falcons meant the preseason favorite (Fire Spirits managed by our fourth grader and fountain of football knowledge) did not make the playoffs.

Rockin’ Red Peppers had chosen peanut butter eggs for his prize, so of course, he had the family cheering madly for Orion, who promised dinner at the Olive Garden, where the bread apparently “rocks” and Mom would not have to cook.

Peanut butter eggs were concocted by my husband when he gave up carbs. His theory was that if he liked scrambled eggs and a piece of toast with peanut butter, there was no reason not to nix the toast and melt the peanut butter into a warm plate of pale yellow protein. I have since given up scrambled eggs altogether.

So his victory by more than 30 points meant disaster for Mom and three boys who hate eggs.

The morning of his celebratory feast, our fifth grader walked through the house moping that “today is going to be terrible.”

At lunchtime, we loaded everyone in the car on our way to a restaurant Dad discovered that “actually has peanut butter eggs on the menu! Can you believe it?!” Our fourth grader Googled it, but only found an Easter recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

When we pulled into the parking lot of Dave & Busters, the fifth grader asked, “There are two restaurants here?”

When we sat down in the booth at Dave & Busters, they rapidly scanned the menus, “Can we get something else if we eat the peanut butter eggs too?”

Then they fell silent. The fourth grader smiled first.

The fifth grader looked at Dad confused. “They don’t have peanut butter eggs!” Then he smiled too. “And we get to play games?!”

The kindergartener jumped up and down in the booth.

Dad’s victory celebration – a feast of nachos, wings, macaroni and cheese and an hour of video games. No peanut butter eggs to be found.


Fantasy Football: Peyton versus Copernicus

A second year of Family Fantasy Football has begun. Mom’s team, named Last Place Lulu for her last place finish last year was on a comeback after Week One.

First, Yahoo ranked Last Place Lulu the best draft picker of the five-person and one-dog league. Go Mom!

Then she came away with a huge first week win over the nine year old, even though she did not play Peyton, who rocked the house.

But in Week Two, she faced Bacon Puppies, and for the second year in a row, lost to the dog. Again, she benched Peyton because she assumed that when playing his little brother, who he loves, the game would come out fairly even. Apparently, not that even.

Basically, Last Place Lulu has a quarterback problem. She drafted two excellent quarterbacks: Peyton and Colin Kaepernick. In the first two weeks, both played well, but Peyton has been on a roll. Last Place Lulu, almost ten years his senior, keeps thinking the “old guy” will get tired or hurt. Knock on wood, he looks stronger than ever.

And Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener. On any other fantasy football team, he would be a smart choice.

So here we go into Week Three. Last Place Lulu is set to play Orion, managed by a smack-talking ten year old who is studying the constellations for fun.

Sitting at the computer, Last Place Lulu looks at her quarterbacks. On the advice of her nine year old, she actually reads the player updates. She debates. She avoids a Week Three decision by looking at her growing Running Back problem (none of them are scoring).

“Go Peyton, mom,” says the nine year old, “You can’t even say the other guy’s name. It is not Copernicus.”

Still, what if Week Three is Kaepernick’s time in Copernicus’ sun?

Last Place Lulu is playing Orion. Will it be the Week of the Astronomer? Or the brilliant Peyton once again?

Family Fantasy Football: A Night to Celebrate

Our 2013 Family Fantasy Football competition is at an end. Those of you who followed it know that The Best and Luke Skywalker found themselves in the Super Bowl with dinner and their pride at stake.

Tonight, we ate Froot Loops.

Yes, our five year old was victorious. We each held a Froot Loop in the air and said cheers to the winner before eating it alongside Christmas dinner leftovers.

And the strutting and bragging about 2014 has already begun.

The Best says he will be Better. The fourth place (out of six) winner, who we were trying to teach the art of smack-talking, is already trying to join someone else’s team. The Froot Loop lover and 2013 champion claims he will take the prize again with the exact same players. The dog enjoys the scene, waiting eagerly for a Froot Loop to fall amid the celebration.

The poor third place holder glares across the table plotting his revenge. “You’re going down next year,” our shocked expert says to the rosy-cheeked, know-nothing five year old taking a victory lap around the dining room table.

And me? In last place? Eating Froot Loops for dinner? I am thinking football is not my sport.

Just wait, kids, for March Madness to see what your Mama can do!

Family Fantasy Football: The Playoffs

I’m out.

Mom’s hands-off approach regarding her team did not prove successful. Those bye weeks kill you when you’re not paying attention!

So our fourth grader and I failed to make the playoffs. We are keeping our chins up, however, and being quite good sports about the whole disaster.

The third grader, who knows more about football than most people on the planet, will face our dog next week in a close battle for third place. He too is demonstrating a surprising dose of composure and good sportsmanship, but I worry that a loss by the Falcons next weekend could send him into a funk that lasts until our Family March Madness Pool three months away.

So…. in the Super Bowl of Family Fantasy Football 2012, its a confident Dad against the come-from-behind five year old.

The question for the rest of us is who to cheer for. Do you go for the obvious underdog, so that the guy who named his team The Best even before the season started does not have the chance to gloat endlessly? Or do you get behind the player with the best prize if he wins?

You see, a win means you get to pick a special dinner for the entire family. Dad wants to go out for dinner.

The five year old, whose team is Luke Skywalker, plans to celebrate with Fruit Loops.

Family Fantasy Football: Week One

After a stellar showing during week one of our family fantasy football league, kickbuttmama is in the lead.

YESSSSSSSSSS!!!! Mom is the best! Mom is the best!

But I can’t gloat too much. I beat the dog.

Of course, I was surprised that when I threatened to beat my eight year old, who I am pitted against next week, he talked football. He’s apparently switching his quarterbacks, and with Matt Ryan at the helm, he thinks he can win.

I have nothing to say to that. No valid football expertise with which to smack-talk back.

The fact that I only beat the dog didn’t weigh into it. I forget that the kids think our dog is smart. Beating her is a victory like any other.

So, though I may have a championship team of players, I just danced around the kitchen taunting my boys with “kickbuttmama rocks!”

Ignoring me, the eight-year-old sports fan rubbed behind the dog’s ears and told her not to worry, she will beat his little brother next week. “I didn’t know mom was that good either.”

Fantasy Football and Math

When my 7-year-old son was three, he became obsessed with Rockies baseball, and like generations of boys before him, he decided that knowing baseball stats made his father proud. So he learned his numbers by memorizing the players’ numbers. Soon he could tell you the number of every player on the team. He could tell you who had the highest number, even if that player had only been called up from the Minors for one game. He could count past 10 or 20 without a thought, because there are Rockies baseball players with numbers higher than that.

Now, he has adopted fantasy football. He wakes up thinking about who to trade to ensure a win over the weekend. He gets in the car at the end of a long school day and immediately asks what I think of yet another trade. He knows most players, their numbers, their positions and their teams.

How is it that he is already in a fantasy football league? Well, my husband promised the boys that if they picked a winning team for him this year, he would use the jackpot to buy them a Lego Super Star Destroyer – a ridiculously large Lego set.

Our seven-year-old researched player stats to participate in his first draft. He compares numbers and works with estimates on a weekly, if not daily basis. He does the math to figure out how many more points he needs to overtake his opponent. He adds, subtracts, and uses decimals to put together the best possible team for the upcoming weekend.

And he doesn’t realize that he is practicing his math facts, honing his skills, getting better than the competition effortlessly. Because he is having so much fun. And he wins!

Maybe that’s why, in general, many boys are stronger in math than many of their girl peers (though, of course, not all). The boys don’t only do it when at their school desks. They don’t only practice when they have math homework. They do it in their sleep dreaming about the next best trade in their fantasy football league. They do it at the same time they are potty trained by memorizing their Dad’s favorite baseball team by the numbers. They impress their friends at recess by knowing more stats than the next kid. They watch the clock wind down at the end of a close game, breathless, fingers crossed that their team gets that Hail Mary shot they need to win. For my seven-year-old, numbers are everywhere and all-important.

He does it for fun. He doesn’t even realize it’s math.