One can argue, there is too much emphasis on sports in our society. Too much hero worship and money spent on undeserving athletes who are guided day-in and day-out by a questionable moral compass. While I agree on some of these points, I know this, there are few things on earth that can unify people of different religions, nationalities, social-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and political parties like rallying behind a beloved sports team. More times than I can count, I have stood in a crowd of cheering fans, high-fiving, and hugging, and marveled at how, while we may not see eye-to-eye outside the walls of the stadium, for now, inside, we are one, and it is awesome!
An example of the unifying nature of sports can be seen through the lens of a story my dad wrote about his fantasy football league. He shared this story with me a few years ago and since then, it often comes to mind when I think about the ways sports can positively impact lives and relationships. So settle in with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine as I turn the stage over to Pops.
A Game Changer – Fantasy Football
… By Dad
This story begins four years ago with a small company located on the Western Slope of Colorado. The company was engaged in energy-related research and developed, which by its nature brought together exempt and non-exempt employees. More often than not, such organizations typically suffer from employee bickering, often resulting in a degradation in morale and a less than joyful workplace…and this company was headed in that direction.
One of the more senior executives of the company could see the handwriting on the wall. This executive had also been playing fantasy football for a number of years and had witnessed first hand of how fantasy football could serve to establish a special sense of comradery. So he proposed that the company start a fantasy football league with those employees who had an interest to participate. Despite some reluctance on the part of another member of the senior management team, the league was formed. While there were a handful of employees who were NFL maniacs, it took some friendly arm twisting to get others to join, in order to fill out the new league…including the female office manager who finally succumbed to the pressure.
Barely two weeks into the NFL season, there was a noticeable change. The bickering had stopped and was being replaced with heavy yet friendly trash talking, as rivalries and player trading between team owners evolved. There also was a significant improvement in morale…many employees were even showing up early so that they could engage with other fantasy footballers before the beginning of the work day. And it didn’t take long for the NFL “newbies” to get with the program, including the office manager who soon became a tough matchup. Clearly, fantasy football had provided a forum for the gathering of a collective interest and for the building of friendly relationships.
Then, a couple of years later, the company reluctantly had to scale back its operations and, as a result, about half of the fantasy football employees were laid off. Fortunately, and while it resulted in the relocation of several of these families to other areas of the country, all of these fine folks quickly found other employment. You might expect that such an unfortunate circumstance would cause the undoing of this fantasy football league. Remarkably that did not happen. In fact, each and every one of the fantasy footballers was adamant that we keep the league going, and it remains alive and well as we kickoff the 2017 season.
I remember the day my dad shared this story with me. It was a “Can you believe it?” moment for him when friends, now former employees, started reaching out to him about the upcoming fantasy football season. You see, my dad bore the weight of those layoffs. He not only lost a crew of highly talented staff, but he had to say goodbye to people that he liked and respected. The wellbeing of these former employees was dad’s greatest concern; the fate of the fantasy football league was his last. But, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t have hope that the league could continue and persevere. As member after member reached out to my dad, his surprise was quickly replaced with a sense of wonder that something as simple as a league, formed around National Football League players, could have such a profound and lasting impact on people. Specifically, this league, formed in a small business, with a mishmash of staff, in a little town on the western slopes of Colorado. But it did, and it does because that is what sports do.
I plan to share more fantasy football league stories over the next several weeks, and I would be honored to share yours! If you have a story, please write it down and send it to me through the email icon on this website or Messenger on Facebook. Being the wife and mother of fantasy football players can be highly annoying and highly exhausting, but by focusing on the positives, it is survivable. Your stories help me to do this, and I thank you!
Happy Funday Sunday! Go Chiefs!