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Archive for Monday, February 1, 2010

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The fairer sex: Female fantasy-sports junkies stake their claim in a male-dominated game

Gina Byrd, left, and Autumn Jones are avid fantasy football players. Both girls are the lone female competitors in leagues dominated by men.

Gina Byrd, left, and Autumn Jones are avid fantasy football players. Both girls are the lone female competitors in leagues dominated by men.

February 1, 2010

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Super Bowl XLIV

What: Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, 5 p.m. Sunday, CBS, Sunflower Broadband Channels 5 and 13 and 201 HD.

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. This is the 10th Super Bowl played in Miami and the fifth at this stadium.

Attendance: To date, 3,347,608 have attended Super Bowl games. The largest crowd was 103,985 at the 14th Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Viewers: The game will be distributed internationally by the NFL and NFL International to more than 185 countries and broadcast in 30 different languages.

Players’ share: Winners: $83,000 per man. Losers: $42,000 per man.

The trophy: The trophy stands 20 3/4 inches tall, weighs 6.7 pounds and is valued more than $25,000.

— The Associated Press

Ignore the pundits on “Sportscenter” — Gina Byrd has her own theory about why Brett Favre keeps coming back from retirement.

“It could be because he heard that I was loyal every year,” says Byrd, who drafts Favre every year for her fantasy football team.

After nine years of playing fantasy football, Byrd has developed her allegiances to her favorite players. Her league mates — all men — often tease her for being so predictable.

“I don’t know if this is because I’m a woman or if it’s just me, but I tend to pick the same players year after year,” she says. “I stuck by (Favre) through the lean years. It turned out to be a good thing this year.”

The fairer sex

In the male-dominated world of fantasy sports, it’s not uncommon for players like Byrd to be the only woman in their league. The game generally caters to hardcore sports fans who crave competition and get a thrill out of assembling a team that’s more dominant than the product on the field. There are multiple online forums to play in for all major sports, but the concept is the same: field a team with the best players and obliterate the competition.

For Byrd, fantasy football offers another rooting interest when the Pittsburgh Steelers have a bad year.

“I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who isn’t into sports and is just trying to do something with their husband,” says Byrd, whose grandfather was an actual steel worker who rooted for the Steelers. “You need to have your own interest and competitiveness to make it really fun.”

Byrd plays in a league with her husband, Dave Stadler, fueling her drive to win. One year the couple made a bet that whoever finished lower in the standings would have to clean out the garage.

“I lost, but I’m pretty sure he helped me,” Byrd recalls. “There’s a lot of trash-talking leading up to the week that we play each other. There’s occasional yelling and wishing injury upon each other’s players, but we’ve never actually gotten in a real fight about it.”

The husband-wife dynamic can be a volatile one in the world of fantasy sports, especially when one spouse’s season takes a turn for the worse. In one scandalous scenario, the spouse whose season is over tries to trade their best players to their mate — who just happens to be vying for a playoff spot.

“We’ve tried it before, but it didn’t fly,” Byrd says. “Our commissioner is pretty good about denying those … No inside-trading between spouses is allowed.”

All’s fair

For every woman who joins a fantasy league to share a common interest with her boyfriend, there’s another who enlists to kick her hubby’s butt.

Katy Clagett falls into the latter category, having signed up for a fantasy basketball league for the first time this year expressly to challenge her boyfriend, Charles Calhoun.

“It’s fun for me to try and be competitive with him in something that he knows so much more about,” says Clagett, a junior at Kansas University. “At first he was helping me out, but now it’s getting to the point where I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m going to do what I want.’”

As a lifetime KU basketball fan, Clagett has made it a priority to have as many Jayhawks on her roster as she can scoop up.

“The more connected to the players I feel, the more I want to watch them,” she says. “That’s definitely something that fantasy basketball has done for me — I want to watch Allen Iverson, even though he sucks. I’m mad at him. He’s ‘The Answer’ no more.”

Local fantasy junkie Autumn Jones gets a competitive advantage on her fiancé, Brian Bishop, by compiling her own statistical spreadsheets. She says that the men in her league tend to be more outwardly competitive, whereas she prefers to quietly go about her business — especially on weeks when she competes against Brian.

“We get very secretive about our plans,” says Jones, a supervisor for the Clerk of the District Court and bartender at Conroy’s Pub, 3115 W. Sixth St. “It’s a great thing to do if you’ve got a fairly healthy relationship and you can handle all the ribbing that goes along with it. If you don’t, it might not be such a good plan.”

Especially if you’re fighting over who gets to draft Brett Favre next year.

Comments

cubanlilly 4 years, 10 months ago

Yes! I'm totally the latter and won the Superbowl in my league the one year I actually joined. I can't remember if Gina was in that league with me, but her husband Dave was...and I may have lost a battle to him, but I won the war!

morganlefay 4 years, 10 months ago

As a female who plays fantasy football every year, I don't care for this article. You could have at least picked a woman that doesn't play with a stupid strategy in mind every year. Picking the same players every season is not a smart gameplan. Then this woman and her hubby tried to cheat in a league?! As a very competitive player, I find that disgusting. I can just see every man that plays fantasy football and reads this article will be rolling his eyes and for good reason. Geez...

townie42 4 years, 10 months ago

morgan- As a male fantasy football player who read this article, I don't care for your comment.

Who are you to pass judgment on selection of teams? Nobody makes you pick a certain way. Why should she?

Maybe she actually enjoys having a team her favorite players. The whole point of fantasy football is to have a good time watching the games and competing with your friends, and since she's in the playoffs in her league, it sounds like she's doing just fine.

As for the cheating... it's not cheating if there's no rule against it. Sounds like the commish decided the trade was no good, so it was denied. Sheesh. You sound like you had money riding on it or something.

morganlefay 4 years, 10 months ago

Ooooh, I just love pissing people off and it's so easy to do! :)

mr_right_wing 4 years, 10 months ago

I can understand people who follow sports teams. But people who memorize all the stats and associated trivia just blow my mind. Then we take it a step further to "fantasy" sports/leagues?!

I wish I had a quarter of the free time these folks waste!!

gb97 4 years, 10 months ago

Ouch! I could clearly never be a journalist because these critics are brutal and I can’t keep my mouth shut. Who knew a light-hearted story about a hobby could deeply offend someone, morganlefay? Thanks for calling me stupid AND disgusting; that was super kind.

FYI, I don’t draft the exact same lineup every year, as that would be ridiculous - and I would never win. I have just repeated a few players from year to year who score well and are dependable, (i.e. a QB who never misses a single game for injury.)

We play in this league with people who have been our best friends for 15 years, but who live scattered all over the country, so it mostly serves as a vehicle for keeping in touch and giving each other a lot of crap… but make no mistake – I want to WIN!

parrothead8 4 years, 10 months ago

I play fantasy baseball, and I love it that more women are playing fantasy sports. It only serves to make it more competitive in the long run.

However, I have to take issue with townie's statement that "it's not cheating if there's no rule against it." Yes, it is. Two or more players working together to gain an unfair advantage for one of them through lopsided trades is called collusion. Most fantasy leagues don't necessarily have it written into the rules because it's assumed that competitors respect each other enough not to do it.

You might want to have a discussion about it with other members of the league to make sure everyone is clear about what constitutes collusion. I guarantee you it upset some members of your league. (That's probably why your Commissioner vetoed the deal, by the way.) In a lot of leagues, you'd get kicked out for trying a trade like that.

As for mr_right_wing, I'm sure ALL of your hobbies are perfectly rational in everyone's minds, and that none of us see any of them as a waste of time.

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