Growing up, I've heard adults talk about "discovering" a rock band before they made it big. Things like, "My older brother's best friend's sister dated Eddie Van Halen... when he was a kid! So I started listening to them really early on..." I try to act mesmerized and engaged in the stories, but the rock world doesn't really resonate with most of my friends and me.
The other day I realized something many of my friends and I do take credit for "discovering": football players. No, we don't claim to have watched their high school games, coached them in Pop Warner football leagues, or even seen them practice, but if we knew to "draft" Calvin Johnson to our fantasy team before he started scoring so many points, it is considered our discovery.
We grow attachments to our Calvin Johnson-like discoveries in a similar fashion to how adults became attached to rock bands. Dealing with the breakup of Van Halen may have been traumatic for many... but if a player I entrusted with my fantasy season got cut or performed badly, I would, however ridiculous it may sound, feel really betrayed.
And this is our culture. None of my friends can name all of the guitarists in the 100 biggest bands in the world, but I bet some of them could name 100 wide-receiver-sleepers for this football season.
I've written articles about how fantasy football has corrupted the youth and promoted a self-centered sports-watching community, but I've come to terms with the fact that many sports fans in our generation aren't connected by where we live, but by what players we decide to draft in our fantasy leagues. And there's no point in trying to get people to listen to me and "root, root, root for the home team" because "home" is an entirely different thing as well. With the Internet connecting people from all across the globe, cultural differences are shrinking and a hometown isn't even something important for people to have in common.
So, I've decided that this fantasy season, I'll be less of a fantasy snob and brag about drafting whatever sleeper of mine turns out to be great. Who knows, maybe "My older brother's best friend's sister" will end up dating him.