Year after year, avid football fans immerse themselves in the action of the National Football League. Sometimes it is to root for their home team, but more often than that, it is to keep up with the performances that their fantasy team players have.
Fantasy football, a simulator in which participants draft a team of their choosing to compete for prizes or bragging rights, has become a prime focus of many on gameday. While fantasy football does have its perks, such as the ability to draft favorite stars and have players to root for when the local team is playing poorly, punishments are common for the losers of these leagues.
In some cases, league members agree on creative and amusing punishments. Some examples of these are having to wear an outfit chosen by the other members of the league or being pelted by a steady stream of tomatoes thrown by competitors. In the other cases, the punishments are humiliating to the loser and only selectively funny for a short time before the laughter fades, but the effects of the punishment stay. Penalties that consist of physically altering one’s appearance for an extended period are not only miserable to experience, but also detrimental to the fun of the game.
The looming threat of a punishment during the regular season leads players to stress throughout the week about whether or not they started the right players. On Sundays, this dread of a mistake in one’s lineup is a recurring thought during the games.
While short term punishments are fine because they do not require lasting showcasing of a loss, permanent punishments are constant reminders that one lost and has had to suffer for it. For example, an all too common form of penalizing losers is by having them dye or shave their hair. This can be funny for a few days, but it soon becomes a normality to all but the loser. They have to live with the regret of agreeing to the punishment until their hair returns to its prior state.
Some may argue that fantasy leagues need punishments in order to prevent anyone from quitting mid-season, but aren’t the prizes reason enough to stay? If a punishment is absolutely needed, leagues should institute creative, short term punishments that are funny, but not pleasurable, even for the loser. This makes the experience much less stressful and even adds a little friendly competition.
Due to the severity and permanent nature of many fantasy football punishments, countless people are driven to check the standings obsessively, resulting in a much more unpleasant game. For this reason, punishments should be eliminated completely from the game or at the very minimum be made to be creative and interesting.