Columnists 23.9.2016 12:58 pm

A welcome relief from harsh realities

Tamlyn Patterson

Tamlyn Patterson

It really is fun being a football fan.

Besides being spoilt with non-stop coverage that allows us to follow our teams across numerous channels 100% devoted to soccer, we also get to play a bit.

Fantasy league is the biggest game yet, and with only five weeks done and dusted, it’s about to get a whole lot more intriguing in the buildup to the busy festive season. Of course in our office, the stakes are high, although some have opted not to enter, fearing commitment issues. These fly-by-nights specialise in month-long tournaments like Euro 2016 and the World Cup once every four years. The rest of us have braced for the nine-month slog and throwing in the towel isn’t an option.

A few interesting trends have since emerged since the season kicked off in August. It takes a brave soul to venture too far away from the players who feature in the dream team once a post-match Monday comes along. The following has come to light as the Premier League heads into week six. A total of 4 223 062 transfers were made with an average of 48 points per player.

Just to bring this home for those non-Fantasy besotted souls out there, our pool, which consists of 10 players, had a highest weekly score of 67 points, and he has since moved up to third spot. Topping the list in terms of popularity was Watford’s Etienne Capoue, who is also currently the highest-scoring player with 44 points.

Hot on his heels is the Manchester City duo of Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, with 39 and 38 points respectively. As with any fantasy league, the ante has been upped in our little world. With two hundred bucks thrown into the kitty, there’ll be one or two fat cats come mid-May 2017.

Then there’s also the determination not to end last with nowhere to hide in the form of updated rankings by the hour. Four of us brave hearts have also signed up for Superbru’s match predictor game. This adds a whole new ballgame when it comes to dedication and discipline with picks required every few days. The hard work (and a whole lot of luck) does pay off on the odd occasion, although I do hope sponsors like Debonairs loosen their purse strings at the end of the season.

Ending seventh out of more than three thousand players should at least qualify for a pizza surely? And if you think we are alone in our madness, fear not. The Americans also clearly have reality dissociation issues. Fans melted into little panicky puddles of sweat when the ESPN website crashed minutes after kickoff on September 15. As a result, millions of NFL fans weren’t able to monitor their teams’ progress, oh the shock and horror of it all.

All this just proves the unassailable power of this global phenomenon. It has been reported that more than 74.9 million players took part in last year’s NFL fantasy league.

And with a nation so divided by politics, along comes a social sports game to smash all differences out the park, if only for a few minutes each week. Let the games go on, here, there and everywhere.

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