The Draft took an hour, elevated my heart rate, made my palms sweat, exhilarated my spirit and ended with an anti-climactic computer pop up saying The Draft is Now Over. Of course, neither of us got all the players we had hoped for, but the excitement of the event left us both highly charged. A few minutes later the euphoria balloon burst when the Fantasy Football website sent us each an email assessment of our newly created teams: I was awarded a C – and Kristy’s grade was B. Not feeling particularly hopeful, but each being highly competitive, we pressed on, named our teams, set our starting line ups, and prepared for Game One.
Every team owner was given access to an NFL website which listed every team in our league, the players on each team, and the schedule of virtual games. A Game Centre screen displayed my team and the opposition for the week; it then became a score sheet for points amassed by each player as the NFL games were played. On first opening the website we were not surprised to find that all the other eight teams were owned by men. Even without looking for the owners’ names, teams named Killer Colts, Miami Maulers, T’s Terminators, Barb’s Bobcats, and Kristy’s Kermits made the male/female identity of the owner abundantly clear. And so began Season One, an experience that was intimidating, humbling and ultimately, joyful.
Weekly NFL games are typically scheduled and televised on Thursday evening (one game), all day Sunday (three), and Monday evening (one) for sixteen weeks, and are followed by eight weeks of playoff games. Kristy and I watched every game together. Prior to each one, we checked in to see if the other was tuned in and ready to watch. Then we communicated all through the game(s) by texts: “did you see him do ….” “I can’t believe he got (x) points.” “I hate John, he’s got all the good players. Wow, look at your guys getting you lots of points.” We laughed at mistakes others made while relishing our transient luck, trash-talked the men’s teams, encouraged each other when our team wasn’t doing well, and discussed strategies that might improve the performance of our teams. It was always us, two women, against the eight teams of men. It was also a mother and daughter re-connecting from a distance in a shared passion.
At the end of the season, we both landed at the bottom of the Leader Board, but instead of being disheartened, we couldn’t wait to do it again. We felt we had learned a lot and were confident we could do better the following year. We were both down in the dumps when NFL season ended, and talked constantly about playing Fantasy Football again in the fall. Not only had Kristy & I begun almost daily communication over NFL players, our teams, and our standings, we discovered how much we each loved playing the game.
As Season Two approached we both tried to recruit friends to play with us, but neither of us had any luck. Everyone we invited looked at us quizzically and with disbelief, as if we were speaking a foreign language. We went through the same process as we had in the previous season, but this time we landed on an eight team League that had two other woman-owned teams. We did the Draft exactly as in the previous year, but this time I didn’t stumble. I had made just as many prep charts as for Season One, but as Kristy and I coached each other over the phone she expressed surprise at my knowledge of the players. “How do you know this stuff, Mom?” Being retired, I had many more leisure hours than she did, and I used them to study the NFL players. I was proud that she had noticed, and acknowledged, my improvement. After the Draft, however, our emailed team grades from the NFL did not reflect my hard work.