• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Fantasy Football: All-consuming torment and home of the humblebrag . . .

HUMBLEBRAG is apparently now a proper word.

Roger Federer: The king of grass and chief humblebrag. Picture: Getty Sport
Roger Federer: The king of grass and chief humblebrag. Picture: Getty Sport

This we know as it has just been added to the Oxford online dictionary alongside other modern terms such as YOLO (not a round caramel-flavoured chocolate apparently), binge-watching and, erm, sideboob. Should such phrases remain in general circulation they will eventually make it into the paper edition of the dictionary, something which is either a sign of the relentless evolution of language or further evidence that it's only a matter of time before traditional sentence structure is replaced entirely by a string of numbers, symbols and hashtags.

Humblebrag as a word already looks like it might have staying power. The dictionary defines it "an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud". Or basically anything ever uttered by Roger Federer (check out the excellent Twitter parody account @PseudoFed for various examples).

Humblebragging may be useful for those times when the Scottish dislike of people showing off prevents anyone from ever talking about their achievements.

An example; "I somehow fluked a win in the office NFL Fantasy Football tournament last year despite not knowing anything about the sport".

This ticks all the humblebragging boxes. Self-deprecation? Check. Secretly boasting? Check. Immediately hating yourself for doing so? Check, especially if you are Scottish.

This actually happened. The rise of fantasy sports competitions has reached such a point where you can just about knock a team together for anything. If there isn't a fantasy version of Highland Games wellie throwing then it can't be far away.

The premise is fairly simple even if some of the rules aren't. Participants get the chance to show they have what it takes to manage a professional sports outfit by selecting a side made up of players from every club in their chosen league and then compete against others doing the same. And you don't even have to send inappropriate texts to take part.

It appeals on various levels. Firstly, you get to prove that you know more about, for example, football than all of your friends/work colleagues/social circle/the universe. Secondly, it helps build or sustain interest in a sport you may otherwise not tend to pay much attention to (ie the afore-mentioned NFL example). Thirdly, there could well be financial gains.

Or it could simply be that tinkering with your team offers an alternative distraction to wasting more money at the bookies.

For those who take it fairly seriously, however, there can be drawbacks. For the proper fantasy football obsessive it can become all-consuming. Keen participants have been known to have stared at their screens pondering possible transfers or tactical switches for so long that they start to drift off into some sort of hypnotic, yogic trance.

Then there is the endless pondering about what would make a good team name, preferably something funny, current and edgy, but not so controversial as to get banned by the organisers. After a few hours of headscratching most end up plumping for the mundane: Macca's Maestros it is again for the new season.

When the action, the real action, gets underway, then being the owner of a fantasy football team can cause a great degree of tension and frustration. It becomes impossible to watch a live game, or even Match of the Day, without thinking of the possible consequences for your team and its standing in your league.

So when Andre Schurrle scores for Chelsea against Burnley following a terrific pass from Cesc Fabregas there is little time to admire the goal. Instead, the first reaction is: "who has Schurrle in their team? Will they now go above me in the league? Why is my team so bad? Why, why, why?"

There can be moments of confusion, too. Watching a match in which you have a goalkeeper and/or a defender in one team, and a striker in the other can lead to inner conflict as to what might be the best possible outcome. Do you want a goal or a clean sheet? Such is the torment that it actually becomes impossible just to enjoy the match.

Given all this stress it is a wonder anyone bothers playing fantasy football at all. But if they didn't, what would they have to humblebrag about should they win?

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

256586