Many sports fans are of the opinion that in the fall months, Sunday exists as the simultaneously best and worst day of the week. On the one hand, there’s football: beer, friends, fantasy teams, food, sloth, and watching grown men pummel the shit out of each other. On the other, it’s Sunday. It’s the day before the dreaded start of the workweek, and much like Thursday’s vibes start to feel like Friday’s toward its end, Sunday is an emotional ticking time bomb to Monday morning blues. There’s just no escaping.
As with any generally trying time in life (albeit on a lesser scale), external, completely unrelated negativity on a Sunday tends to plunge one’s mood further into despair. If you’re emotionally invested in a football team, whether an NFL one, a fantasy one, or both, it’s time to admit you’re putting yourself in a seriously fragile emotional state on a weekly basis. For example, you could have had the best weekend of your life through Friday and Saturday—you went out, you got unnecessarily drunk, came away with the craziest stories since last weekend (or you stayed in, ate an apple, and binge-watched Sons of Anarchy)—but on Sunday, all it takes to wipe that away is a brutal loss over which you had little to no control.
Say you’re a Cowboys fan. First of all, sorry. That’s unfortunate. Here’s part of the reason why: pretend it’s week 5 of the 2013 NFL season again and your favorite team is squaring off at home against Peyton Manning, the Broncos, and their so-far prolific offense. All game long, they play very well against the Broncos, not stopping a single thing their offense wants to do, but at least going shot for shot with them. In the fourth quarter, your boys take a lead, and it’s starting to feel like an all-too-satisfying upset is within reach.
Giddy, you check your fantasy team’s status and launch a fist pump—Tony Romo’s last touchdown has pushed you into the lead by one point. You had earlier resigned yourself to losing this week, as your opponent’s players all played in the early games, piling up a lead that could only be overcome with an unlikely monster game from Romo. The pieces have all but fallen into place.
Here’s what happens next. Game tied, the Cowboys get the ball with over two minutes remaining. On the second play of the drive, Romo steps backs, throws, and is intercepted. It’s not a horrible pass—Broncos linebacker Danny Travethan makes a great diving catch—but it doesn’t matter. That’s the worst thing that could have possibly happened in that moment, and it sets the Broncos up for an easy chip-shot field goal to win the game 51-48, as time expires. Already furious, another sinking feeling creeps up on you.
No. Fantasy. ROMO. NO.
Yes. Romo’s interception has taken two points off of your fantasy total. He was your final player, and as such, you’ve now lost fantasy as well. On one play, the entire complexion of your day has changed. The sun is setting, you know you have to start another long week when it rises again, and worst of all, everything you put your time and effort toward today has let you down. In an alternate universe you could have been celebrating two improbable victories, essentially feeling like no one in the world could take you down, but that universe just isn’t yours. It feels so tangible, and that’s what makes it worse. You tasted victory and the awesome feelings that come with it, but it was snatched away from you, and there was nothing you could have done any differently.
The next morning, you wake up essentially hungover. This doesn’t make any sense, as you didn’t have more than a couple beers during the day on Sunday. You groan and roll out of bed, go through the morning routine, and get to work. It’s a shitty day, just like most Mondays, but you find yourself in a worse mood than usual, and unwilling to join in with your co-workers’ typical case-of-the-Mondays jokes. What’s worse, the Monday night game rolls around and your best friend/fantasy arch-nemesis gets an improbable comeback win with GENO SMITH throwing for 200 yards and 3 TDs. You promptly punch a hole through the wall and scream at a few strangers out your window.
Whoa there. Time to relax. Here’s the thing: life just isn’t fair. As fun as winning can be, allowing fantasy football to dictate the terms of your mood is a pretty surefire way to go completely insane when things inevitably don’t pan out. When you start getting pissed off about your job, every ex that’s ever wronged you, and that guy sitting too close to you on the bus who’s actually resting plenty far away, you know you have a fantasy anger problem. That’s when you need to take a step back and adjust your attitude toward the NFL and the fantasy culture it has spawned.
Or pledge to yourself that next time, you’ll draft Peyton Manning.