Everyone has a Sunday routine. We sleep in late, go to Leo’s for afternoon brunch, chain ourselves to a desk in Lau and proceed to do the homework that we neglected the previous two days. Unless, of course, we play fantasy football.

In this case, we chain ourselves to the living room couch and stare at the TV for hours, tracking stats from five different games on our computers and our phones. We watch anxiously as little horizontal bars stretch across the screen, following the drive chart to see if any of our favorite players have scored.

Every yard is 0.1 point. Every field goal is three. Every touchdown is six. Each point is a little victory, bringing us one step closer to beating our opponent and earning bragging rights for the rest of the week.

It is not a very productive way to spend a Sunday, but it sure is entertaining. It makes the most lackadaisical games and moribund teams interesting.

Though they were once irrelevant, I suddenly care about the Cincinnati Bengals because I draftedBenJarvus Green-Ellis. I now root for the Patriots because I have their starting running back, and I don’t hate the Cowboys as much because I want Dez Bryant to play well. Owning 15 players from 15 different teams significantly expands the breadth of my interest in the NFL.

Sunday becomes sacred, not for homework or going to church, but for watching football. Owning a team is time consuming ,and reading Plato is impossible when you have several games to track at once. There’s a real benefit to having an 11 p.m. Mass and no classes on Monday.

With four playoff appearances and one fantasy championship under my belt, I know the glory of winning it all. But there are also many sacrifices along the way.

Hearing your friend scream every time Arian Foster scores a touchdown can get extremely annoying. It is agonizing watching your roommate pound his chest after beating you by the slimmest of margins. Some guys in your league create weird nicknames and develop strange alter-egos. Your heart is torn when your hometown team plays against your fantasy quarterback.

Is it all worth it? Although it seems like a mundane way to spend your weekend, there are actually a lot of important things on the line.

Despite its name, fantasy football has a lot of real-world implications. Over the past few years, it has grown tremendously popular, with an estimated 27 million participants last year.

Every major sports website — ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, CBS, FOX — has its own team of fantasy writers and analysts offering week-to-week coverage of games, draft strategies and player rankings. Popular analysts have columns and radio shows devoted just to fantasy sports.

How did we get to this point? How is it possible that Matthew Berry gets paid full time to write about a silly game of stats and numbers? Are we spending our Sundays in vain?
Sure, it is a lot of fun competing with friends and cheering for our favorite players, but fantasy football — and fantasy sports in general — is corrupting the game in many ways.

It has reduced football into its basic elements — points and yards. We are enslaved by the numbers. We cheer for players instead of teams and touchdowns instead of wins. We betray our hometown teams. We muddle our loyalties.

Fantasy football makes Sunday the busiest day of the week for all the wrong reasons. At the end of the season, the glory of a fantasy championship sure is sweet. But it might not be worth all of the hair-pulling and screaming at the TV. After all, it is just fantasy.

Nick Fedyk is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. MORE THAN A GAME appears every Tuesday.

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