A better question from the reporter: You just cost my fantasy team the playoffs. What were you laughing about?
For years, there’s been a strange connection between crazed sports fans and their beloved athletes. Athletes rely on a familiar connection in order to sell their merchandise, but then they shut the fan out when it involves their personal life.
It’s a different manipulation than actors, musicians or politicians. The best actors reveal a part of themselves in every role they play, musicians invest their personalities into music and politicians, although seasoned manipulators, are inevitably required to disclose a portion of their personal life. Athletes? Not necessarily.
They make money with their physical skills. We know very little of Peyton Manning from a box score. In fact, we can’t even get a good shot of his facial expression as he naturally wears a football helmet.
Yet, despite all this, sports fans still oftentimes feel that truly they know the athletes. Following Kobe Bryant’s well-publicized denial of an alleged rape, a friend told me, “Kobe Bryant wouldn’t do this.” How could she know this? She had never met Kobe, never even come in contact with a Bryant acquaintance. So how did she know?
Perhaps it’s because he seems pretty trustworthy in his Nike commercials, right? Or when he’s putting up 81 against the Raptors.
I’m not trying to bury Kobe. Rather, I think it’s okay for me to admit that I just don’t know Kobe Bryant.
I don’t know Kobe Bryant, I don’t know Michael Vick, I don’t know Peyton Manning.
So this unwavering devotion to our favorite athletes is fairly astounding and I contend that fantasy sports has enhanced this phenomenon.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the individual athlete has taken over the sports landscape, and when we draft, trade and add/drop real players, we believe we know them even better. How well do I know Carl Crawford, who I’ve owned for four consecutive fantasy seasons? Not enough to know which team, other than my fantasy team, he’s going to play for next season.
However, many fantasy sports players feel that they must hack into the psyche of their fantasy players to prepare for their seasons. “Fantasy experts” will consider a player’s mindset when releasing their player rankings. How crazy is that? We have no idea what their mindset is.
Which brings me back to Derek Anderson. I blame his post-game meltdown on fantasy sports. In ESPN Fantasy leagues, 3.7% of fantasy players own him; therefore, less than 1 out of 20 players “knows” or even cares about Derek Anderson. That’s fairly frightening in a world of jersey sales and Nike contracts.
Hey, I’m not laughing either.
“Fantasy sports and basketball are really made for each other,” he said.
Although fantasy sports can be traced back to baseball and football, basketball’s style of play is ideal for fantasy.
Of the four major North American sports, basketball is the most individualistic. For one, as opposed to football and baseball, there are only five players on the court for each team. Furthermore, in opposition to hockey, which has six players on the ice, basketball players supply the most consistent production, largely due to the high scores of games.
In baseball, football and hockey, scoring is at a premium. Average totals in baseball are 7 to 9 runs per game; in football, 3 to 4 touchdowns per game; in hockey, 4 to 5 goals per game. Professional basketball averages nearly 200 points per game. Thus, a player like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant are going to get more consistent opportunities. In hockey, a great player like Alex Ovechkin can go an entire week without scoring a goal. Likewise, in one baseball game, the St. Louis Cardinals can score nine runs and Albert Pujols could go 0 for 5.
Consistency may be boring, but it is rewarding as well. Fantasy basketball rewards the knowledgeable fantasy manager. In football, you may get lucky with a guy like Kenny Britt, who has two more touchdowns this season than star wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Simply because he’s found the endzone four times, Britt’s value is high even though his real-life value is much lower than Wayne’s.
On the contrary, in fantasy basketball, if you draft the productive players, they are more likely to produce on a consistent basis. In other words, there’s no Kenny Britt in fantasy basketball.
Therefore, fantasy basketball tends to be the best evaluator of a fantasy sports manager. Less luck. More consistency.
As Ronis said, they’re “made for each other.”