My son and I were invited to become a team owner and join a fantasy football league. I figured why not?
It's a way to learn something new, bond with my son and maybe even win some bragging rights. Of course, I had no idea exactly what it involved.
Being late to the party, I've since learned that more than 27 million players play fantasy football. In fantasy football, players (usually called owners) draft NFL players into their fictional teams and compete against each other throughout the NFL season. They spend an average of nine hours a week (during football season) playing fantasy football. Ugh…that's a lot of time!
Last weekend was the draft. My son and I studied up, picked our players and had a lot of fun talking strategy. It allowed me to spend one-on-one time with my son in a way I otherwise might never had done with all the demands on my time.
The great part is that suddenly, I have some common ground to spark conversation with sports lovers, most of them men. Over the years, I've been told that talking sports is key to a woman's advancement in the workplace. I've have to admit, there may be some truth to that!
I've asked some of the busy men I know how and why they make time to participate in fantasy football. They've explained it's an outlet to release stress, and build comraderie. I get that…for women it's like being in a book club or joining up regularly for girls night out. Some of the dads actually do it as a father-son or father-daughter bonding exercise. I'd love to see more girls get involved.
I'm not sure yet how time consuming fantasy football is going to be. But because it's just for fun, I'm only planning to spend a hour or two each week with my son monitoring our team. My friend, in two leagues, said he only spends a couple hours a week on his teams.
Some believe that fantasy football was originally created by people that loved the game and were extremely bored at their job, needing an outlet to waste time at work. There may be some truth to that…. Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently released a study calculating exactly how much money employers lose every year due to their employees procrastination and managing their fantasy football rosters. Their number? $ 6.5 billion.
Still, I see an advantage to employers: To be a better worker, we need to be well rounded and able to talk about something other than work all the time. One fantasy football participant admits to I did using some office time to research backup quarterbacks and figure out starting lineups. However, he argues: it's refreshing to take a break from my daily grind and then get back to work with a clearer perspective.
Even more, managing our roster gives us a chance to feel like a team owner. It may even help some workers to better understand how and why decisions are made by their managers.
Though it's still early in the season and I'm a newbie, I see a good case for making fantasy football part of your work life balance.
What do you think? Is fantasy football a huge waste of time or worth fitting it into your life as a guilty pleasure? If you were an employer, would you encourage or discourage participation in fantasy football in your workplace?