Fantasy Football: A woman in a male-dominated world

I’m not entirely sure what the majority of people picture in their minds when they hear the term “Fantasy Football,” but I’m sure it often includes a bunch of men sitting around on their computers, messing with each other like they do on the TV show, “The League,” and driving themselves crazy by trying to decide which player they should put in their line-up for the week. Most of that image is extremely accurate, except for the word “men.”

I joined the fantasy football realm about six years ago, and I have to say, it was quite intimidating at first.

I have always loved football, ever since I was a little girl. All of us neighborhood kids would play on teams against one another on mid-summer nights, with some of our dad’s being the “coaches” for the teams.

I was that girl who wanted to play football on the boys team at school. This, of course, was so outlandish that I eventually gave up on that thought and just kept practicing with my neighborhood friends for fun, trying harder and harder to get better than the boys. Because yes, I wanted to prove that girls were just as good as boys.

As I got older, most of my good friends–both guys and girls–knew that I loved football and had a passion for the sport.

I wanted to work towards becoming a writer for the NFL.  Abruptly, when fantasy football came about, my guy-friends started talking to me about their leagues, which was completely foreign to me, and once I learned about what it was, I was intrigued.

Some of them started asking me if I wanted to join their leagues for the following season. My excitement cannot even be described.

“Me? A girl? Really?” I thought.

Some of my guy friends, whose leagues I joined, have been friends of mine for years, and they always thought of me as “one of the guys,” so they could have cared less about the fact that I was a woman, participating in the male-dominated sports world.

However, many of the guys in the leagues didn’t know me at all, and I definitely experienced gender-role discrimination at times.

The first league I joined definitely had some players with that “boys rule, girls drool” mentality, which just made me work harder. I would study player stats and team strengths and weaknesses like they were going out of style.

And, even though my waiver claims would get snaked by the same people at times, which was more than frustrating, I was determined to prove that girls are just as good as boys–and I did.

Successfully, I drafted a killer team, with strong running backs, wide receivers, and Phillip Rivers as my QB, who will always have a special place on my team. I ended up third in that league at the end of the season, and won an award for the highest points out of all teams in the league.

I was ecstatic. I felt like I had just conquered the world.

The following year, I joined a second league and won the championship. The third year, I won again in a different league. The fourth and fifth years, I made it to playoffs in a couple of leagues but didn’t get the title.

That was definitely okay with me – I try not to get too competitive, or upset if I lose. It’s football, in a fantasy world. It’s a game. It’s meant to be for fun. And honestly, some people just get lucky at times. There were years that none of my starting players got injured, leaving me grateful, for them in real life too, and other years where my first three picks were all out for the season.

I’ve never tried to act like I am better than any of the guys I play against–ever. But it is nice to be taken seriously when you are a woman in a male-dominated industry.

It’s nice to see that you might’ve changed somebody’s opinion of what a woman is capable of. Because to me, I’m just a person who loves football, who happens to be a woman.

Someone’s gender shouldn’t matter in any industry. As I played, it was more than just winning a game to me. I was excited about winning, so that I could help progress gender-equality across the board, showing that someone’s gender does not matter.

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