An Alternative To Hyper-Woke Sports 

Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms and kneel during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a respite from the constant intrusion of off-field drama and scandal and joy-sapping real-world politics into what was once escapist entertainment, then fantasy is your gateway back into sports fandom. It’s where between-the-lines production is all that matters.

The advantages of make-believe teams over the real thing have never been more evident than in today’s hyper-woke climate. In fielding a fantasy team, you are far less likely to find yourself making mental notes of who’s kneeling and who’s not. It matters little that Alvin Kamara has been a kneeler and outspoken SJW (unless that’s your thing — I don’t know what you’re into); what matters is that he had the third-most fantasy points for a running back through four games in league history and that he helped you beat that douchebag Bill from Accounting.

Mookie Betts may have offended you with his refusal to attend the Red Sox White House celebration following the team’s 2018 World Series title, but if he was on your fantasy team that season, he no doubt delighted you with his .346/.438/.640 slash line.

ESPN and its fellow travelers in journalistic woke-dom may annoy you with their ongoing refusal to “stick to sports,” but fantasy content is typically a politics-free zone.

Nor does thuggish behavior dampen your enjoyment of your make-believe team’s exploits. In 2015, when I won my first fantasy football league championship, one of my team’s cornerstones was Odell Beckham Jr. During my league’s Week 15 Super Bowl, OBJ was flagged for three personal foul penalties, later drawing a one-game suspension from the Disciplinary Committee for dangerous on-field conduct. But all that mattered to me was that Beckham salvaged an off day — and saved my season — by catching what was a decisive touchdown for my cause.

All this is not to say that you check your beliefs at the fantasy league door. You’re free to let real-world concerns color your perceptions of every pro athlete out there. But fantasy provides a safe harbor from the storm of negativity that has consumed this country and the world of sports along with it.

I know I’m coming to you late with this recommendation, since we’re almost halfway into this NFL season, and you may have written off the NFL anyway; I know several people who have.

But it’s never too late to get into the fantasy game. There are weekly options, formats that shelter you from bad drafts or season-killing injuries and allow you to jump in at any time.

One word of warning if you’re new to the fantasy world: Nobody cares about your team but you. That’s something that fantasy old-timers like me have learned the hard way. It’s a hobby best suited for rugged individualists. If you’re looking for someone to share your joy over your success, get a dog.

Related: 7 Sports Figures Who Should Go Into Politics, and 5 Who Shouldn’t

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