Living in a fantasy land

I'll come right out and say it: We spend too much time fantasizing. Well, at least about sports.

I recently came to that conclusion while managing my fantasy football team - Michael Vick is playing great this year, by the way - and I glanced at the "Fantasy and Games" tab on ESPN's website. I guess it just really hadn't caught my attention before, so I gave it a quick look-see and was flabbergasted at the number of sports fans can choose to fantasize about.

Of course, there are the standbys like football, baseball, hockey and basketball, but it doesn't stop there. Football alone has its own subcategories, allowing people to play 10 different fantasy-football-related games at their leisure, at work, or when they're supposed to be bonding with their children.

In the past, if you asked a male staring blankly off into space what he was thinking about, typical responses would have probably been "Ladies," "That good beer I had last night and can't remember the name of," or "What? I didn't do it!"

Now, rushing yards, passing yards and who would be a good "flex play" are taking up crucial space in the minds of men - and some women - and crowding out generic fantasies that once filled our bored brains.

For the record, I though a "flex play" was some kind of painful exercise I should probably avoid before I delved into the realm of fantasy football. Now I know that it's a sometimes-painful exercise in futility (insert fantasy-football-nerd chuckle here).

Being a fantasy football player, I can understand some of the fascination with it, but some of the other games baffle me. There's fantasy stock car racing, fantasy poker, fantasy Olympics (boy, you'd want to find out who was the top-ranked curler in the world if you played that one) and, if you're so inclined, fantasy bass fishing.

I don't know about you, but I don't really see the appeal in watching bass fishermen I've drafted to my "team" on TV as I keep track of their stats. What would I do, dispute their lure choices? Their reel technique?

"No, don't cast over there! There's bound to be more bass by the lily pads on your left!"

Also, one of the fun things about fantasy football and some of the other sports is "managing" your team, making trades and picking up free agents if your players are injured. If you want to, you can change up your team faster -- though perhaps with more success -- than Brad Childress.

That factor would be missing in other games. Those who get injured bass fishing or playing poker probably shouldn't have left the safety of their basements. Well, I suppose any poker player might occasionally suffer from facial strain due to hours of maintaining that stone face. Bass fishermen could also suffer a few ailments, such as tennis elbow from too much casting. The only other factor I can imagine would be the unlikely scenario of drowning. At that point, fantasy players could pick up a livelier angler out of the bait bucket - er, pool - of free agents.

That might make for some good water-cooler talk the next day, though.

"How'd your fantasy bass fishing team do yesterday, Bob?"

"My top pick slipped on a package of PowerBait, fell into the water and never came back up! That doesn't bode well for the rest of the season."

As exciting as that sounds, I don't think I'm going to hop on the fantasy fishing bandwagon or play any of the other fantasy games anytime soon. I'll stick to my fantasy football team, and not worry about any of my players falling out of a boat. Well, unless I have a Viking or two on my team. The purple hasn't had the best luck with boats in the past.

Derrick Knutson can be reached at southwest@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

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