high school fantasy leagues?
i much prefer watching high school football on fridays to pro football on sundays. the night air is crisp, the hot dogs are cheap, you sit closer to the action, and the kids just seem to try a lot harder.
this season, however, st. paul's daily paper came up with the second creepiest thing i've encountered as a football dad: The Pioneer Press High School Fantasy Football League.* a quick google search revealed a broad national trend, with high school fantasy leagues popping up in ohio, new jersey, louisiana, texas, and elsewhere. yeesh.
as a guy who spends a lot of time with a high school sophomore, let me just ask ... have these fantasy football writers ever spent any time with a high school sophomore? if so, they would know that no good can come of this. the kids get too much attention for playing football already, often swamping the attention they get for academic work. plus, the great life lesson in high school football is about teamwork (and overcoming fear and pain with one's buds) rather than the individual stats compiled so carefully in fantasy leagues. finally, i cringe at the thought of some fantasy rube accosting the neighbor kid for failing to accumulate sufficient points under the friday night lights.
i tend to draw a bright line between amateur and professional athletes, with only the latter subject to critical analysis and ridicule. i'd keep college students out of such leagues as well -- let the coaches rip the players and the fans just be fans. i once taught intro statistics to an earnest sociology major who happened to be the walk-on kicker for the football team. i winced whenever he missed a field goal, worried that he'd be savaged by the local scribes. he was a fine student and didn't even have a scholarship at the time, so it wasn't as though he owed the university or the writers or the fans anything. fortunately, he didn't miss very often.
it is bad enough that we put teenage college athletes through the media wringer, but high school kids? i noticed that one of tor's teammates was a first-round draft pick on this team. i hope he takes it as a compliment and then puts it out of his mind. clearly, the middle schoolers are next, with the pee-wees following shortly thereafter. i just didn't expect the daily paper to join in on the fun.
*the modern-day injury waiver form remains the absolute creepiest thing i've encountered as a football dad. and, heaven help me, i signed one that was way scarier than this. i felt as though i were signing enlistment papers for my fifteen-year-old.