Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fantasy Football Phenomenon

Introducing…drum roll please…the Champion! That’s right folks. You are reading a blog from the winner of the inaugural TBI fantasy football league. Now, lest you think I am simply blogging in order to toot my own horn, I do plan to make a legitimate post. However, before I can do so, I must admit to having done a little victory dance this morning in front of a coworker and I have already placed my order for my prize: a 4-pack of Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. A quick shout out here to Agincourt for helping me in my victory. I couldn't have done it without you.

This was my first year at Fantasy Football. I jumped at the chance to join my work league this year for multiple reasons. (1) You know how I feel about the inequality between male/female sporting opportunities. (2) I was the only woman remotely interested in this league. (3) I was the only woman even asked to compete in this league…the curse of being the token sports knowledgeable lesbian. (4) As the only woman in this league, I felt the need to represent for the ladies. (5) My options for competition grow limited these days so this gave me a way to kick some ass. (6) I thought it might be fun for us to spend our NFL football season interested in the success of players from teams other than the Indianapolis Colts.

I decided to see what the internet had to say about this fantasy football phenomenon. And to be fair, it is better to call it the fantasy sport craze because you can make believe in almost any sport out there. I am also tinkering around with my English Premier League Fantasy Football (soccer) team. Lo and behold, there are articles out there as late as this year focusing on how (*gasp*) there are more women participating in fantasy football now than a mere five years ago and they can't *all* be lesbians.

There are a few articles out there that I would like to focus on in this discussion. Allow me to start with an video about women in fantasy football: “Women Taking on Fantasy Sports Leagues: Do Men Really Want Women in their Leagues?” This piece annoyed me. First, let’s look at the title. Are you kidding me? 2007 and ABC is putting out a new piece questioning whether men want women in their league? My response to that was a knee jerk “I don’t give a rats-ass what the men want, I want to play in the fantasy league and I’m going to win!” At one point, the news anchor suggests that perhaps men should be open-minded to the role of women in fantasy sports. I’d have appreciated this story more if it had focused more on the fact that women are athletes, period. Alexa Pozniak, a producer at EPSN, tried to do so, but I found the piece in general to be lacking in substance.

The New York Times put out an article that I approve of a bit more: “In Fantasy Leagues, the Field Is Level.” A portion of this article states, “Perhaps it should not be a surprise that more women are participating. Title IX paved the way for more women to play sports, and their elevated interest level is manifesting itself in the stands, in the front office and in front of the computer — competing in the sports world’s alternate universe, where genders are not assigned separate leagues.” Now, while I appreciate the optimism of that statement, it is not entirely true. There can still be sex-segregation in fantasy football. All you have to do is create your own male or female only league. The article "Women Tackle Fantasy Football for the Love of the Game" article mentions: how difficult it was for one woman to join a men's league, gives a shout out to two women's only leagues, and waxes poetic about how one wife enjoys fanstasy football with her husband even though he is in a men's only league. I find that so appalling I am almost speechless. Maybe I am being too harsh here. If men or women want to create their own sex-segregated league, then that is a valid right, no? Well, no. Sports in general continue to perpetuate sex-segregation in the real world as it is. Why on earth do we want to foster that Neanderthal notion in the fantasy world as well?


La Pobre Habladora said...

Hey! Congrats! Ayinger Celebrator is a nice prize.

It sometimes seems to me like ABC et al. run intentionally sexist human interest pieces. One of the most outrageous was this BBC piece from a couple of weeks ago - I thought of doing a post on it entitled "Jackass on Unicycle Still Can't Get Women to Notice Him" - but... X-mas travel trumped snark. Are these sorts of articles evidence an overt sexist agenda, do you think, or a ploy for some attention?

Mächtige Maus said...

Sigh. Way to go BBC. The only way that article becomes more outrageous is if the "scientist" on the unicycle was juggling and somehow that was made to correlate with sex drive.