In the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen front man sings, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”
The same question could often be asked of those playing fantasy football each fall. With the 2020 NFL season starting shortly, I recalled my last encounter with fantasy football while reviewing current data about the popular pastime.
According to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association, there were 59.3 million people playing fantasy sports in the USA and Canada in 2017. As of 2019 there were an estimated 45.9 Million fantasy sports players over 18 in the United States alone. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the organization, demographics for fantasy sports — not just football — include the following:
81% male, 19% female.
50% are between the ages of 18 -34 (average age is 37.7).
67% are employed full-time.
47% make more than $75,000 (national average is 34%).
The Sports Management Degree Hub clarifies that, “Of the 56.8 million players, more than 40 million play fantasy football.” The website further shares that fantasy sports participants spend an average of $465 a year on fantasy sports with fantasy football alone operating in an $18.6 billion market. That’s $6 billion more than the current estimated NFL revenue, and 4.5 times the current value of the NFL’s top flight team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Sometimes you can say more with music than you can with words.
In that spirit, I am today launching a new feature on this blog in which I will showcase a musical selection on Mondays appropriately titled Music Mondays.
Due to the nature of my schedule, there might not be an entry here on every Monday, but whenever the mood strikes, there is some thematic relevance, or some especially poignant purpose in doing so, you will find music here for your aural enjoyment.
“The only head coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowl championships in a four-year span. He currently ranks 10th all time with 177 total victories as a head coach. His winning percentage of .639 ranks third in NFL history among coaches with 150 or more wins, trailing only George Halas (.682) and Don Shula (.666).”
How’s that for good fortuna? Of course, there have also been struggles, but, Belichick took a team from the bottom of the NFL and made it a championship contender. This piece is also played at each Patriot’s home game as the players enter the field.
Lastly, Belichick casts a rather “ominous” presence while on the sidelines during games and, due to his frequent wearing of hoodies, has often been called “Darth Hoodie” (a reference to Darth Vader).
And so, without further adieu, here is O Fortuna for you to hear:
Yesterday, while volunteering during my younger son Max’s visit to his school’s library, we found and read through a Boston Celtics book together. On the cover of the book was a picture of the Celtics playing the Chicago Bulls. When Max, who loves basketball and is playing in a youth league, saw the picture, he exclaimed “that’s my team!”
He then added that he wears jersey number 13 (presently worn by Joakim Noah), to which I joked “unlucky 13?!” Being a week shy of 6, Max looked at me and said “what does that mean?”
I realized our cultural dislike (in some cases fear) of the number 13 — which, in Greek, is called triskaidekaphobia — is learned. But why does our culture dislike the number 13? Since today is “Friday the 13th,” another common fear (called paraskevidekatriaphobia in Greek), I wanted to briefly explore some of the origins for these irrational ideas. Below are some snippets of insights I collected:
“The number 13 and Friday are recurring presences in mythological, spiritual and religious tradition. In Christianity, 13 people attended the Last Supper before Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ death on a Friday. A Norse myth warns of dire consequences for dining in groups of 13. Friday the 13th was the date the medieval Knights Templar were imprisoned.”
“…the number 13 may have been purposely vilified by the founders of patriarchal religions in the early days of western civilization because it represented femininity. Thirteen had been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures, we are told, because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days).”
“Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved.”
“As if to prove the point, the Bible tells us there were exactly 13 present at the Last Supper. One of the dinner guests — er, disciples — betrayed Jesus Christ, setting the stage for the Crucifixion.”
In his speech he addresses questions such as “Why do people see the Virgin Mary on cheese sandwiches” or “Why do people hear demonic lyrics in ‘Stairway to Heaven’?” It is for many of the reasons above that people look for logic — or at least deeper meaning — in places where there might really be none.
When it comes to Tim Tebow, many well-meaning and honestly inspired individuals nevertheless connect dots that don’t necessarily make sense connecting and draw conclusions that are entirely based on assumptions and anecdotal evidence. “Tebowmania” seemed to hit a crescendo following the hysteria when what appeared to be a “halo” formed over Mile High Stadium in Denver last Sunday after the team’s playoff win.
Interesting, whereas many jumped to conclusions that it was some kind of heavenly sign, one rationally minded reader of the article (who uses the name “Rotten Rodriguez”) explained it as follows:
“It wasn’t a halo. I was at the game. After Denver scores pyrotechnics are shot out of a cylinder in the south end zone. A smoke ring came off the cylinder then floated over the stadium for as long as it take a smoke ring to dissipate.”
If only Tim Tebow wore the number 13 instead of 15, perhaps he could have provided additional inspiration for those who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. That would be especially helpful this year since, as the USA Today article also points out, “for the first time since 1984, those three Friday the 13ths — Jan. 13, April 13 and July 13 — are exactly 13 weeks apart.”
So, if you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, maybe you should start Tebowing — or consider the luck-related insights of Guy Kawasaki to whom I attributed the phrase “go luck yourself!”
Update: Despite the above exploration into the absurdity of superstition, I wore my “lucky” Wes Welker jersey when my favorite NFL team, the New England Patriots, hosted the Denver Broncos for the AFC Divisional Game on Saturday, January 14, 2012 and they won! The following week, on Sunday, January 22, they beat the Baltimore Ravens in dramatic fashion at the AFC Championship Game, sending the Patriots to Super Bowl XLVI — while, again, I wore my “lucky” Welker jersey. Unfortunately, the Patriots faced and — in an almost exact replay to Super Bowl XLII — lost, yet again, to the New York Giants on Sunday, February 5, 2012. And, in true ironic form, one of the many reasons the Patriots lost was because Welker dropped a badly thrown pass from Tom Brady — negating the Patriots attempt at a very possible come back win. How’s that for luck and superstition? I admire Welker, but clearly I will need to wear a new jersey next year!