Sports: Armchair Athletes

“Everyone has a hobby. Some people like to finger paint or fly kites – I like to guess how many yards people are going to run,” says Dan Kubier, fantasy football enthusiast.

Fantasy football is an increasingly popular hobby where “owners” select and trade real-life football players and collect points based on how well their dream teams perform each week.

Websites like espn.com and yahoo.com keep track of what each football player accomplishes for free, that way owners don’t have to keep track of every game themselves. Some websites update the points mere seconds after the real-life achievements are made. The owner with the most points at the end of the season wins.
It’s possible to select your fantasy team and leave the game alone until the end of the season, but it helps to keep an eye on which players aren’t playing that week, and to make sure your star player isn’t injured or playing poorly in real life. If this happens, a simple rearrangement of your starting lineup can save you lost points.

Kubier, a UCO student, is currently in three NFL leagues. “I used to play football, so I get to live vicariously through people who made it to where I wanted to be as a kid. When you beat somebody, even though there is a lot of luck involved, it’s a thrill,” he says.

Kip and Natasha Baird, with Farmers Insurance in Edmond, recently got into the fantasy football craze last year. “It sounded like fun and I understood the concept of it,” said Natasha. “I decided I would do it if there was a college league. At the last minute, I got a couple people together and set it up.” Natasha and Kip played as a team and wound up winning first in the league.

This season, the husband-wife duo formed a college football league with Edmond Chamber of Commerce members and area business professionals, mainly as a social activity, but also for networking.

Draft night is Kip’s favorite part. Everyone gets together to pick who their players are going to be for the season. They watch games together as well. “It’s the sense of camaraderie and competition among peers that makes it a riot,” Kip says.

Kip and Natasha prefer college leagues over NFL leagues because they like to see new, young talent and appreciate athletes who stick with one team for years. “In the NFL, you never know what’s going to be what in any given year,” Kip says. “You can’t fall in love with your players because next year they could be playing for someone else who is paying them more. Fantasy football makes the whole of college football, not just your favorite team, more interesting.”

“We’ve got a great group of people who are passionate about football and like to get together and socialize,” Natasha added. Their group goal is to develop business relationships as well as friendships.

The social aspect of fantasy football is important to Kubier as well. He uses it as a means to keep up with friends who have moved hundreds of miles away. “Friends like to have traditions and this is something you can do year in, year out,” Kubier says.

Owners can’t pick a player who is already claimed by another owner in the league. Kip and Natasha’s league has ten owners. Each league can establish how many points each achievement will be worth. For example, in Kip and Natasha’s league, a quarterback gets one point for every 25 yards ran, while a running back gets one point for rushing 10 yards. Point values are customizable.

“It makes every football game interesting,” says Oklahoma Christian student Blaine Morgan, longtime fantasy football participant. “I remember many times when the game’s over and I’m begging my player to get just 10 more yards in a Monday night football game between two teams that no one cares about.”

Morgan says the best way to get started is to round up some friends or join a beginner league. “Study up on the stats of players and run a couple mock drafts to see how things will probably pan out,” he says. “It’s always great to feel like you made a great pick.”

Whether your favorite players are in the NFL, or whether you prefer the young excitement of college games, it’s clear that fantasy football has taken the armchair athlete to a whole new level. 

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