Why fantasy sports suck (commentary)

Remember back when you could easily identify the good guys and bad guys at sporting events by their jersey colors alone?

I’m talking way, way back-before you needed three spread sheets and a graphing calculator to decide whether or not you should cheer for a football team to score on a given possession.

Pre-Al Gore and the invention of the Internet, pre-steroids and shattered milestones, and pre-dorky sports fans that worry incessantly about their fantasy basketball team’s free-throw percentage all week long.

No matter what they may promise upon signup, fantasy sports don’t give you any insight into what it’s like to be a general manager. Managers don’t pay anybody anything, there’s hardly ever enough on the line to justify the thousands of hours of work a competitive team demands, and players that shouldn’t even play professionally (say, Lamar Odom) become superstars in the eyes of 35-year-old Mathletes everywhere.

Fantasy sports is not like being a GM, it’s not like being a player, and it’s not even as fulfilling as solid, old-fashioned support for your favorite team.

Of course, fantasy fans argue that their pursuit keeps them interested in games that would be otherwise meaningless.

Well, if waiting until the seventh inning to see Mike Sweeney hit an RBI double is your idea of a good time, maybe you should check out cricket or something. It’d be more suited to your attention span, trust me.

Instead of enhancing our viewing experience, fantasy players make watching sports worse for everybody else around them.

How many times have you heard somebody bitch about what they “need” to happen in some random game to win a head-to-head matchup that week? Not only is it boring to listen to, it lends an awkward, almost-economical feel to America’s greatest sanctum of triviality.

For instance, we probably have fantasy sports to thank for the popularity of John Hollinger and his “Sabermetrics”-which essentially reduce everything in baseball to some bizarre linear equation. And, thankfully, we now know that Paul Konerko hits .293 against lefties if the infield grass is cut below two inches.

Never before have sporting events felt so stale, so?incorporated. Where have our souls gone?

The best evidence of this prevailing icy and insular attitude toward athletics in our country is the pathetic level of national support America received at the Torino Olympics.

The Olympics, unlike our own made-up pastimes, are all about grandiose passions that can’t be quantified or compared. Growing up, I remember crowding around the TV with my friends during the USA games, feeling shivers run down my spine every time that cheery NBC Olympic interlude music came on.

Da da dum dada dadada, da da dum dada dada da?

We were all on the same page. We were all rooting for the same thing. And it was beautiful. You’ll never see a gang of rambunctious little terrors remain civil and agreeable for so long again.

Apparently, we’ve become too damn divisive for that anymore.

Particularly in places like Utah-devoid of pro teams in three major sports-it seems that nobody ever finds common ground in sports anymore.

In any given football game, one Utahn’s rooting for the running back on one team and the defense of his opponents, while his best friend and league rival sits next to him on the couch praying that the kicker makes five field goals. No matter what, the result of every drive makes somebody angry.

How is that enhancing the viewing experience? People who work on Wall Street jump off the Trump Building after just a few months of similar madness. Trust me, if you root for one team, you’re happy at least half the time, and you can even (gasp!) CELEBRATE WITH OTHER PEOPLE.

I hear some people call that partying.

But hey, who wants to do that? I’m sure you need to get back to figuring out if Alfonso Soriano is eligible to play second base yet this year.

Just remember: Whether you win or lose, with fantasy sports you’re always a loser. I guess there’s some common ground, after all.