Chicago, IL — Being a Chicagoan I grew up with a clear-cut vision of who the enemy was and who the rivals were of my teams. There was never any question as a Bears fan that my disdain for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Viking and Detroit Lions was as free-flowing inside of me as well my blood. As a die-hard Blackhawks fan I always loathed the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and recently the Vancouver Canucks. I would never find myself cheering for these teams or their players. Enter fantasy sports.
I love fantasy sports. I can’t wait for my draft days for both fantasy football and fantasy hockey. I do my research and prep work for who I want on my team and enjoy the entire concept of fantasy sports. I believe it brings fans to teams that may not have a great fan base or simply have bad teams or are in bad markets. By doing this I think it is better for the leagues namely the NFL and NHL.
Lately however, I am feeling very conflicted. I have Aaron Rodgers as my fantasy football QB and now I find myself actually cheering for him to do well despite my disgust of the Green Bay Packers. I actually had Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Sedin on my list of draftees that I would take if they were available. Can you image as a Blackhawks fan? My stomach churned at these thoughts. I got lucky in my fantasy hockey that both of these players were taken but the point is if there were available I would have taken them.
How can I cheer for these players when they have always been the enemy? If I do cheer for them am I a disloyal fan of my team? I know your thinking if the leagues are for money that should make the agony a little less but let’s be real being a fan is not about money. I was very conflicted for a long time for most of my playing fantasy sports I would steer clear of players on my rival teams.
In my fantasy football leagues as you can imagine steering clear of Aaron Rodgers you might end up not winning on your leagues too often. So I realized I needed a different approach and that I can still cheer against the Packers but hope Rodgers statistically does well as long as the Packers lose. For a Packer I actually like Aaron Rodgers and think he is tremendously talented and I can not imagine what he had to endure being in the Favre shadow for all those years. So now I still hope the Packers always lose but am very glad when Mr. Rodgers has a great day statistically.
Now for my fantasy hockey league I came to a different realization. I absolutely love my Chicago Blackhawks and always want them to do well and succeed and while the Red Wings are their divisional rivals I can still have their players that I have in fantasy do well in the regular season as long as they fade in the playoff series if they encounter my Hawks. I actually think Pavel Datsyuk is an amazing player and can do things with pucks that are unreal. If my Hawks can not benefit from his skills why can’t I? But I felt somehow I was cheating on my team until I realized that the more people who watch hockey games regardless of team the more the NHL and the game will benefit. This in the long run will benefit my team and the sport in general.
So has my fandom changed because of fantasy sports? Yes but then again isn’t life about compromises and choices. Fantasy sports has changed the landscape of sports and how we are fans but there are pluses and minuses like everything else. While I am a Bears fan I do cheer for Aaron Rodgers I know blasphemy so that part of my fandom has changed. The one area where my traditional fan meathead still exists? No matter how much money I may lose or bragging rights I forfeit I will NEVER have on my fantasy hockey team anyone wearing a Vancouver Canuck jersey. The Blackhawks fan in me, that can never be changed.