Football is here and if history is any indication, I am to spend the next 20 Sundays crushing beer and greasy food, rooting for underachieving fantasy players, and watching the Vikings offense systematically go three-and-out.
Does it matter that watching football, an indoor activity, conflicts with the nicest weather of the year? It does not. Even when my wife drags me from the couch and out to some apple orchard, my mind is still on the game…and my eyes are on my phone, refreshing box scores like my life depends on it.
Now, if this sounds like ridiculous behavior, it’s because it is. I know that. What started as a passionate hobby has mutated into an unhealthy obsession. And as a 31 year old father, I know there are other, more fulfilling things I should be doing.
The problem is I still like football. There are too many good things about it: long touchdowns, last-second comebacks from my fantasy team, and the undying hope that one day the Vikings will be World Champs and my time invested in this miserable franchise will pay off with unimaginable happiness that endures forever and ever, amen.
So, with that in mind, here are some quick tips to consuming football in healthy doses, so not only can you enjoy the game, but the rest of your life as well.
Get up early on Sundays. A great way to spend proportionately less time watching football is to extend the part of the day when football isn’t on. If you’re up at 6:30, you’ll have 5 glorious hours before you need to start setting fantasy lineups.
Be productive. Use the morning to do the things you should probably be doing instead of watching football: exercising, preparing for the work week, spending time with family, getting outdoors, etc. If you can squeeze an entire day of obligations and quality-time into a single morning, then there’s no problem spending the next 10 hours watching football. You deserve it.
Eat a healthy breakfast. I have eaten things on Sundays that would make Andy Reid blush. I’m not proud of it. However, I’ve found that a veggie omelet and a banana in the morning can help me cope with the shame that typically follows that fourth bowl of chili.
Prioritize and plan. A typical NFL week has 5 slates of games (6 if you throw in some shitty London game between the Browns and Jags). That’s 20 hours of televised football per week!
Now, you and I both know not all of that football is good football. So don’t watch it all. Take a look at the schedule and prioritize games based on fantasy relevance or when your hometown squad is playing.
Then make other plans for the games you don’t care to watch. Take your wife out to eat during Thursday night’s Bengals/Texans punt-fest. Take your kid to the park during the 3PM games. Sometimes less football is more football.
Limit drinking to one drink per hour. I have a breaking point, a point of alcohol consumption and when I reach it, I can do absolutely nothing productive for the rest of the day. When this happens in the evening, it’s fine. I just watch TV and go to bed. But when I reach this point at 1PM, it’s miserable.
But this year my strategy is to teeter right along that line. I’ll catch a nice buzz but won’t overdo it. The key is to find that limit. What is that limit? Well, if you read our post on how to get hammered without a hangover, you know that the body can metabolize 1 drink per hour. And since your average football game runs right around 3 hours, you can safely enjoy 3 drinks per game and not end up in beer purgatory for the rest of the day. Not bad!
Don’t buy RedZone channel. RedZone Channel is awesome, and that’s the problem. It makes all football exciting, even football that’s not exciting. Like I don’t give a shit about any Jaguars game. But bring me live to Blake Bortles overthrowing receivers in the end zone 3 times in a row, I could watch that all day. And I do, given the opportunity.
Last week was the first week in 10 years that I didn’t have RedZone Channel, and you know what? It was fine. I didn’t die. I didn’t withdrawal and convulse on the floor in front of my family. I survived. And you can too.
Streamline your fantasy preparation. There is so much fantasy content out there that reading analysis and fidgeting with your lineups can quickly become a full time job. Personally, I spend 90% of every football season refreshing Twitter, waiting for someone to release Jordan Reed’s latest injury report.
But this year I’m following a healthier strategy: streamlining all fantasy preparation into two 30 minute sessions. As a manager, you have two primary responsibilities: 1) submitting waiver claims and 2) setting lineups. These activities require homework on Tuesday evening and Sunday morning (with possibly a quick glance at your roster before Thursday night kickoff). That’s it.
So you can spend all week doing hardcore analysis or you can bookmark your favorite waiver wire and rankings articles — which, if you pick the right ones, will have already incorporated the hardcore analysis — and cram for an hour per week.
Remember fantasy is a game. I’ve won fantasy championships. And I have celebrated those championships like I was out there catching touchdowns myself. But I know those victories have less to do with my football genius and more to do with blind luck — injuries, the team I’m matched up against takes a shit, a play call at the goal line, etc. Fantasy is a game of highs and lows. But a simple understanding that
a lot most of it is luck can help keep you grounded.
Realize your season will likely end in disappointment. If you’re in a standard 12-team fantasy league, there is a 92% chance your season ends in disappointment. Your favorite NFL squad? Everything else being equal, they have a mere 3% chance of winning the Super Bowl — and if your franchise is cursed like the Vikings, knock that number down even further.
Of course, anything can happen, no matter how unlikely. This is why we watch and why the relationship with football is worth having. But just know that, statistically speaking, your season will likely end in misery, which is why that relationship needs to be healthy. Enjoy the season, everyone!