So the other day I'm watching G4 TV at work and I happen to catch an episode of The Loop called "Fantasy Football -- D&D For Jocks?" (you can watch it here) that compared Fantasy Football to the classic fantasy roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons.
The high point for me was when David Dorey (the guy on the far right) of thehuddle.com, in an attempt to defend Fantasy Football from its critics, described the fantasy football draft party as a guy version of women's tupperware parties. Good job, dude, that sounds WAY cooler than D&D.
I would say that Fantasy Football is one more phenomenon that blurs the line between jocks and geeks, but I don't think that line has existed for a long time. This historic rivalry has been a false paradigm for years now.
Sure, when I was a kid being a comics geek/sci-fi nerd occassionally made me a target for Neanderthals, but by the I started college, the overwhelming majority of my friends were comic book readers and obsessive sports fans. I seem to be part of a dying breed of purists, but I try to make up for our dwindling numbers by despising professional sports with all my heart and soul.
Televised sports -- the original Reality TV -- have been the bane of my existence since childhood. Football especially. Not only is it responsible for decades of screwed-up television schedules, but even more egregiously, it caused the cancellation of Futurama by pre-empting it every freaking Sunday until its ratings were down in the sewer with the mutants. For that alone I expect a few Fox network executives to burn in hell.
So realistically, nothing is going to get me interested in watching pro football short of the NFL implementing the rules of Blood Bowl or the suggestions of George Carlin. Yet that doesn't stop the people around me from engaging in excruciating sports conversations and inviting me to fantasy football drafts... which, as I understand it, are like tupperware parties for guys.
I find it amusing that fantasy football players take offense at being compared to D&D gamers, as if they aren't already consummate geeks themselves. Sports geeks are no different from roleplaying gamers, comics fans, or costumed Trekkies. They just have different memorabilia collections, and different tedious conversations that put everyone else in the general vicinity to sleep.
If fantasy football isn't enough proof for you, consider this: When I was a kid, my Mego Super-Heroes and Star Wars action figures were disparagingly referred to as "dolls" by adult males and jocks of all ages. Now, a generation or so later, the comics shop where I work has an entire wall covered in sports action figures -- football, baseball, basketball, and hockey players, even NASCAR drivers -- simply because Todd McFarlane was able to anticipate (and exploit) the geekification of the American sports fan.
Sports fans in denial just need to relax and embrace their inner geek. After all, it's not like anyone is implying that you're gay simply because you play with dolls and play fantasy games. The trading cards are still problematic, though. Because as Bill Maher pointed out, when you're a kid, baseball cards are keepsakes of your idols, but once you're a grown man, they're pictures of other men. Not that there's anything wrong with that.