When Fantasy Goes Too Far

Ray Rice is one of the best running backs in the National Football League. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler, rushed for 1,000 yards each of the past four seasons, and made one of the biggest plays in Ravens history en route to a Super Bowl championship. With his many accomplishments, one would think he would get a pass for leaving a game with an injury. Among logical football fans, he does. They respected Rice, who is one of the nicest guys in the league, and sent their well-wishes via social media, specifically Twitter.

Fans aren’t logical, sensitive, or sympathetic, even towards one of the good guys. Social media reared its ugly head again on Sunday when some fantasy football owners decided to take their frustrations out on Rice. They logged onto Twitter and blew up the tailback’s mentions with vicious, mean-spirited, and unnecessary tweets. If you search his mentions, you’ll find tweets like, “Ray Rice is the reason I lost this week. Stop fumbling and get more than one point loser,” and “Thanks for all the points Ray, I lost by two,” and, of course, the usual tweeters telling Rice to kill himself.

Though millions of Americans love fantasy football (myself included), it’s not a matter of life or death. Whatever buy-in your league requires, you agreed to that buy-in. Betting on fantasy football is a conscious choice, one that you choose. And part of betting on football is injuries. You can’t just look at the fantasy scoreboard, see that Ray Rice only got one point, and immediately log onto your computer to bash him via social media; if he’s hurt, he’s hurt. Baltimore isn’t going to take an unnecessary risk by sending their $40 million running back out there with with an injured hip in a Week 2 game against the Cleveland Browns.

And those two words from the last paragraph are key in this column: Week 2. If you’re such a good fantasy owner that you can blast Pro Bowlers for not producing, then one game shouldn’t make that big of a difference in your fantasy football season, should it? A loss in the second week isn’t going to ruin your season if you make the right waiver pick-ups, play the right players in your lineup, and pay attention week-by-week. Even if you have a bad year and go 4-9 or 5-8, the sky will not fall down, I promise.

In the end, Ray Rice is right: the bad eggs in fantasy football are ruining the fun of it. Isn’t the point of fantasy football to have fun? Jaw with your buddies, cheer on your players and strategize your way to the top? For readers who watch the FX show The League, take the characters on the show for example: they don’t go on social media and tell a player to kill himself just because they lost their fantasy matchup. For the most part, they accept the loss and move on (although Ruxin did have some issues accepting his Sacko punishment). So in conclusion, have fun playing fantasy, and remember that your team is not more important than the careers of the players competing in reality on Sundays.

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