‘The soccer gods went and stomped on my heart,” My No. 3 son wrote on his Facebook page after the U.S. team lost in the Women’s World Cup battle in soccer last July.
At the age of 12, this same committed sports enthusiast sat through a whole Seattle Seahawks game with an untreated broken arm, and only after the game was over and the team lost spectacularly did he admit the injury and observe mildly that he probably should go to the hospital.
You could say my family takes sports seriously, so I felt a bit apprehensive when an official email came last week from the Wilhelm Territory Fantasy Football Commissioner (No. 4 Son) asking if I’d like to form a team for this year’s family fantasy football league.
My heart leapt, and I thought as any mother would at such a time, “Wow! They must really be desperate.”
I don’t know anything about fantasy football and I am a notably slow learner, but I have a soft spot in my heart for football that goes back to the days when my children were young and the Seattle Seahawks were a brand-new team. In those days, we’d often go to watch the team practice at their training camp in Cheney.
The players, full of raucous enthusiasm, bursting with hopes and dreams, were very generous with their time. It was an unbelievable comfort to my youngsters who had just lost their father when the team let our boys try on helmets and shoulder pads while their heroes, quarterback Jim Zorn and wide receiver Steve Largent, competed with each other to tell stories of their exploits on the field.
“My hands, Jimmy! Tell about my hands,” Largent, noted for his sure grip, once interrupted excitedly.
The youngest boys were so star-struck that they concocted a plan to entice the single Jim Zorn to marry their older sister. She knew nothing about the idea, of course, or she would have killed them instantly and settled the whole question. From their point of view, she was just hanging around doing nothing, and here was a chance for her to be useful – which, I must say, she failed to appreciate.
One holiday, an unnamed family representative stood in line for hours to get Zorn’s autograph and show him photos of the proposed picture bride. The young quarterback listened with unflappable good humor, but the autograph he returned said, “Merry Christmas, I don’t think I’ll marry your sister.” (Safe to tell this story now because all characters involved have been happily married to exceptional spouses of their own selection for decades.)
Wanting to live up to this history, I accepted the fantasy football offer graciously and started off by naming my team Granny’s Raiders (purple helmet with lightning bolt and cookie jar rampant).
I went online to try to find out about fantasy football, which is now played by 27 million Americans. The idea is to create an NFL fantasy team, composed by drafting players from various teams to fill the positions needed. Wins and losses are determined by what the real players do in their regular season games. It’s a game of strategy and skill, sort of like chess with nachos.
A primary rule of aging creatively, they say, is to keep learning new things, new languages, new customs, but fantasy football seems to be a new world with no passport. I downloaded the 2011 Fantasy Football Draft Kit. It was 27 pages long, and not one word seemed to be in English. And with the season starting, there was no more time to research the strengths and weaknesses of each prospective team member.
Finally, I decided to employ the vastly underrated Counter Top Method of selection where I spread all of the rosters on the kitchen counter and chose the names that garnered the most splatters.
Worked great. My team is nearly complete. My No. 1 pick (determined by mayonnaise smear) was Ryan Matthews of South Dakota. (South Dakota has a team?) Oh, wait, it turns out that’s San Diego followed by (under the gravy smudge) Sidney Rice of the Seahawks. I don’t have my quarterback yet. That all depends how the spaghetti sauce splatters when I cook dinner tonight. I love football. Pure fantasy.
Dorothy Wilhelm is a professional humorist who specializes in Laugh workshops. Dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com, itsnevertoolate.com.