A Letter to Fantasy Football Owners – Football Friday

Football Field 1

Dear Fantasy Football Owners,

This, my friends, is the most glorious time of year. The air is a little more crisp, the temperature is slowly dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are being purchased and… it’s football season!

With football season comes fantasy football season. Some of you are very serious fantasy football owners, some enjoy a casual competition, others may have had their spouse twist their arm to participate, while others may have been lured by free food at a draft party. No matter the manner in which you decided to become a fantasy football owner – congrats! You own a “team”! Hopefully, it’s your dream team that will bring you to victory.

Fantasy football can be a very serious competition in some leagues. This competition can lead to some VERY disgruntled owners – men and women alike. Disgruntled owners often feel the need to vent their frustrations to the players they “own” (and the entire world) via social media, which is where I want to focus this letter – the all too popular player bashing that’s ALL over the internet. Yes, my husband plays in the NFL, so this topic is personal.

As we sat around the table for Christmas dinner last year, we were surrounded by several of Jacob’s teammates. In attendance were a rookie, a Pro Bowler, a player who is the highest paid at his position in the league, and several veterans, all of which had been threatened, harassed, ridiculed and belittled on social media. As I listened to the guys talk about things people had written about them on Twitter, I realized that even these rough and tough NFL players can be bullied. There is nothing more cowardly (or silly) than personally attacking someone that you’ve never even met, and yet it happens day after day online. I dare say, not a single one of these online bullies would EVER be brave enough to say to an NFL player’s face what they have said online. Hiding behind their electronic device gives them a sense of security and social media gives them a voice – and a way to voice their opinions directly to athletes through mediums like Twitter.

I’m not naive. I’m not asking for sympathy for NFL players. I realize that they choose to play football for a living and therefore they choose the spotlight. However, they didn’t choose to be bullied, online or otherwise. [Jacob says “bullied” is not the right word to use… But I don’t know what else to call it!]

People feel the need to ridicule players when they don’t perform to their standards, which is just crazy. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Missed a meeting? Been late to an appointment? Lost a client? Didn’t close the big sale? Has your student ever failed a test? Or your child been disobedient? We ALL have bad days at work, no matter the profession. Usually a bad day at work elicits a “better luck next time” or passing the blame to [insert your excuse]. What excludes NFL players from that? The fact that their work is displayed for millions to see each week. Can you even imagine if your work was on network tv and shown to the masses? Yeah, me neither.

It seems so easy to bully NFL players. I mean, on the news they are portrayed (and sometimes rightfully so) as cheaters, womanizers, thieves, drunks, and even murderers. It’s easy to see them as something other than real people. However, when you’re on the inside of this fraternity of sorts, you see things a little differently. Before you decide to bully one of your fantasy football players, remember this: The VAST majority of men playing in the NFL are men of character and integrity. You may see them catch touchdowns on Sundays, but on Tuesdays they are visiting the pediatric cancer ward at the children’s hospital. On Wednesday evenings they are attending Bible Studies. Thursday nights are spent signing autographs for children at the local grocery store. The off-season is spent running non-profits and organizing fundraisers for charities. They use their breaks between practices to call fans with terminal illnesses. These men are not the thugs the media portrays them to be and they are certainly not deserving of the hate that is spewed at them when they drop a pass, throw an interception, or otherwise don’t play to the standard that would have helped win a fantasy football game.

So, fantasy football owners, my one request is this: Please be kind. What you say (or write) says much more about you as a person than the player you are writing about.

Regards,
An NFL wife




Comments

  1. You hit this right out of the park (how could I avoid a sports analogy of some kind!). My husband has raced cars professionally for a number of years, in Australia he was a two-time champion- and I will never forget when he made the choice to come here to the US to race, he flew over for his first race and unfortunately I couldn’t accompany him. I remember reading on Facebook of all places two drivers at that race discuss how they would “teach him a lesson” and hope that he” had good insurance”! I must admit I was not as gracious in my words as yours but I was so angered that they had taken to social media to threaten him, his family could see those comments! I was so tempted to write them a note when he won that race, even more so when we finally relocated to the USA and I saw them both at a track event. While my husband is strong enough to shrug it off, as a wife and mother I am not, I don’t like people talking so poorly of the man that carries our family, especially when their words are hurtful. This was such a great letter. Our family are Denver fans and we were sad to lose your husband this year but wish him (and your whole family) a great season in Atlanta!

  2. Well said!

  3. Good job!!! And I’m sorry your husband and others go thru this!!! This could be said to anyone using social media to attack anyone about anything. But good job for confronting it!!! Blessings this year!!!

  4. Great lesson Allison, thanks for sharing!

  5. Well said! Harsh words hurt everyone.

  6. This reminds me so much of the subject of a book I recently read: “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson. I highly recommend it for anyone who spends any part of their time on social media (so, pretty much everybody!). Maybe Jacob would agree with the word “shamed” instead of “bullied?” The main idea of the book is that the anonymity of social media, combined with the accessibility it gives users, makes it very easy for people to say, do and share things they would never do face to face. In some ways, it’s good – it gives the previously voiceless a platform, and injustices and good things can be pointed out and shared in a way we could never do before. But often (and it seems to be getting worse every day), people use it as a platform to ridicule and shame people mercilessly. It really made me stop and think. I hope I’ve never been guilty of doing it myself, but at the same time have I participate in some way? Have I favorited, liked or retweeted something I thought was humorous without thinking about what it might feel like to read that about yourself, your son, your husband? I’m sure I have, but ever since I read the book I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about my role on social media.

    Love your posts and perspectives, Allison, and looking forward to more Football Fridays!