Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tupperware Parties for Sports Jocks

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, 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.


Corey Bond said...

Walking Sports Database Scorns Walking Sci-Fi Database

Thanks to Victor for supplying the above link to one of the best Onion articles ever. I'd gone looking for it myself, but was searching the Onion archives for "sports" and "comics" instead of "sci-fi" and couldn't find it.

Cap'n John said...

Dude. Who, in their right mind would invite YOU to a fantasy football draft? They might as well invite you to a poker game. Do these people not KNOW you? Oh, wait, that might have been me. My bad.
Seriously, though, I couldn't agree more with your comparison of sports geeks to comics geeks to sci-fi geeks. I, for one have long since fully embraced my geekiness in all of its myriad and wonderful forms.
Nice post.

Corey Bond said...

Thanks! I'm relieved that you like it, since I will be referring to your many fantasy leagues as tupperware parties from now on.

cap'n john said...

Get it right, now. The DRAFTS are the tupperware parties, not the leagues themselves. It's a subtle but important difference.

Corey Bond said...

Okay, I see. The fantasy season kicks off in the summer with a tupperware party, and then continues for months like an interminably long Dungeons & Dragons game. Got it.

Point taken, thanks. Call me in February after your fantasy characters have defeated the Boss Level and divided up the treasure.