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Why I’m a fan of fantasy football (and really all fantasy sports)

Family. Friends. Fun.

NFL: AFC Championship-Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Fake Teams! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

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It’s hard to write this when I’m not in the throws of fantasy football, when the season isn’t in full swing and I’m not filled with the joy of relentlessly mocking my opponent for their horrible decision to start Eli Manning over Philip Rivers. September seems so far away...

But, this isn’t about me complaining about how far away fantasy football feels. This is about me—and us!—celebrating how amazing fantasy football and fantasy sports are. Celebrating all that makes us love playing fantasy: from the drafts to the trades to the heckling to the crippling agony of watching a player on your bench go for 25 points.

Growing up, I loved playing Madden. I still do. I love building and managing a team, making the tough decisions and watching those decisions succeed—or spectacularly fail—on a computer generated field. Fantasy sports is basically the same thing in principle. Team owners get to build their roster and make moves based on who they think with help them win games. Yes you don’t play as the players as you do in Madden, but you still get to witness the success of your decisions on the field (this time, not a computer generated one).

However as a kid, I never thought of playing fantasy football. It was still rather nerdy back then (early 2000’s) and the whole infrastructure that we now have wasn’t around or as accessible. I knew of fantasy football but never thought I’d be an active participant in the game.

Then The League came out.

Then I learned what kind of shenanigans happen in a fantasy league (or at least one depicted on TV).

Then fantasy football didn’t seem so nerdy.

So, my friends and I created a league and it was—and still is—amazing. Not quite the shit-talking, hellstorm that The League depicts but still, it’s a rowdy bunch of guys and gals all who love football and hate losing. The recipe for success.

And here is where I have my own Grinch moment and share the true meaning of fantasy football: friends.

Yes, that one word is what fantasy football is all about (at least for me). Throughout my life I have made close friends but have lost contact with them because of school, moving, work, or whatever other reason you could have. But fantasy football has been an avenue for me to stay in contact with friends who otherwise I might have fallen out of touch with.

I have a league with friends from college. I have a league with friends for past sports teams. I have my aforementioned league which has become a hodgepodge of family friends, my actual family, my girlfriend and college friends. I’ve played in leagues with complete strangers, only to be friends with everyone by the end of the season.

Fantasy football for me has been a terrific way to stay in regular contact with friends from around the country and world.

It’s also a terrific way to flex your sports knowledge on unsuspecting fools. Sure the social community that fantasy sports cultivates is the top reason I love fantasy sports, but I do love winning. And I do love making moves that no one else thinks to make and then just crushing everyone in my path because of them. Like trading Amari Cooper for Ezekiel Elliott in Week 2 last year and watching Zeke more or less single handedly lead me to a championship.

It’s fun staying in touch with your friends, it’s also fun beating them.

Now it’s your turn to share! Head over to our FanPosts and write a quick post, no more than 800 words, explaining why you’re a fan of fantasy sports and you could win a $500 Fanatics gift card!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.