Following Football Through Fantasy Football

(I hope to god that Everton keep a clean sheet tonight; I’ve got Baines and Coleman in my team)

This is the first season I’ve played Fantasy Football in a meaningful sense; he other time I tried it, I got bored after one game and let my team rot unchanged for the rest of the season and I didn’t log on to the Fantasy Football site again. And while watching football is undoubtedly rendered more interesting – I’m rooting for Everton against Arsenal even more than usual, and I backed West Ham against Newcastle earlier simply because Weimann is in my team – it does mean I only really care about players in my team. For instance, I didn’t know the result of the Chelsea game, only that Fabregas got an assist, which is relevant for me.

This means that I’m not really enjoying the league as much as I did in the past; I’m more aware of results, but only those involving eleven players, across about seven teams, a week; I may have ignored Stoke’s awesome comeback against Liverpool last season if I didn’t have those team’s players scoring me points, and some of the most entertaining matches can be those between ‘weaker’ teams, where both have the freedom to play an attacking game, instead of being forced to defend against superior opposition as they often are – these players are often ignored too, because they do not command as high a price as their more illustrious peers.

Also, the game becomes far more mathematical; Aaron Lennon is influential in Tottenham’s tactical setup, but because he scored few goals and provides few assists, his impact in Fantasy Football may be lesser than his impact in real football. This is a key reason why I’m not the best at fantasy in the world, but I like to think I know a thing or two about football – I can pick a team for a real game, but not one that’ll get shedloads of points in a system EA Sports decide is representative of a player’s quality.

Perhaps the judgement to make, therefore, is that playing Fantasy Football can make you more aware of the league, and provide extra motivation for following certain teams, but it can be misleading in its presentation of players and teams. I suppose it just reinforces the only accurate thing we can ever learn from watching professional sports – it’s much harder than it looks.

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