I hate fantasy sports. The fact that it’s become an industry is nearly a reason to pack it in and never resurface. Its influence on fans and the way it alters our habits of consuming sports is the ultimate depression. Fantasy sports are the last straw in this “me-first” culture we seem to be propagating. Texans running back Arian Foster summed it best with a tweet after a preseason injury last season:
4 those sincerely concerned, I'm doing ok & plan 2 B back by opening day. 4 those worried abt your fantasy team, u ppl are sick
— Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) August 28, 2011
But as with everything one feels so heavy a hatred towards, there’s the part of me that’s desperate to join in; the part of me that lurks at the corners of the Internet trying to hack away at some undiscovered statistic, waits for my roommates to fall asleep and charts out draft scenarios with a wax pencil over the living room window. It’s the ownership aspect that I find most appealing. As I disappear into the world of adults where increasingly fewer people tell me that I’m special and unique, fantasy sports ownership allows me to realize my full worth. Where there’s potential for my real life to spiral out of control, in fantasy sports ownership I could keep things ordered, make spreadsheets.
But if I’m to act on my dark desire to genuinely participate in fantasy leagues, any solution I come up with will have to avoid ruining my enjoyment of professional sports. And so after much deliberation, I present another poorly thought-out game: #OWS Fantasy League.
The basis of any fantasy league is to draft players and, on a weekly basis or so, compete against another member in the league: one accumulates points on the basis of the players’ performance that week. If basketball is being “played,” we arrange a point system based on the measurable statistics of the game – points, steals, rebounds, etc. Two things to consider for the #OWSFL are: (1) we won’t be able to have individual players, being that the real life protest system is setup as anonymous cells across the country, and (2) measurable statistics will be vague and necessary to formulate subjectively. That’s of no mind, though, as this is a sort of horseshoes and hand grenades aesthetic rather than hard science.
For the sake of my laziness and ease of language, we’ll be using U.S. cities only. There are an estimated 100 separate groups across the country, so one’s league could be quite large. On draft day, one will assemble with friends at the specified “draft house,” as would happen in a normal fantasy league. In place of players, one puts all hope on a single group/city. As size varies drastically between protest groups (Team #OCCUPYNEWYORK, say, versus Team #OCCUPYMUNCIE), some teams might need more time to make measurable news stories, so we’ll allow for two weeks of data collecting between matches. Every other Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the league commissioner will email-blast – or conduct in person if one’s group is centrally located – the two weeks’ worth of data and allow the competing teams (owners) to figure out who’s won. This will happen for approximately 28 weeks, and then the playoffs (number of teams allowed into playoffs will be determined by owner consensus – this a democracy remember, 99% yadda yadda). All the normal fantasy fare, more or less. The trick now is to determine how one accumulates and loses points for the Sunday matches. Offense, always sexy, an American pillar: we will start with how to earn points.
Each happening that takes place within your protest group or between your protest group and the city in which it is protesting will be measured on a point scale from 0-20.
The highest possible points will be reserved for the enactment of a new policy or legislation – be it at the local level or federal. The law can be positive or negative — say stricter regulations on bank activity or redefining of protesting liberties. Any legislative change born out of your team’s protest is enough to secure you a 20 point mark.
Down from there, in the 15-19 point range (to be decided by the competing owners and the league commissioner – democracy again, cooperation the true spirit of the league) is when one’s team leads to the removal or departure of a public official.
The 10-14 point range will be considered for visual evidence of police abuse (opportunity for bonus points if protestors abused are too young to vote), and interest from public thinkers such as Slavoj Zizek or Roseanne Barr. An example of the latter: a visit from Michael Moore to Team #OCCUPYPORTLAND would be worth arguably 10-11 points, while Zizek holding a Q&A with Team #OCCUPYNEWYORK is clearly 14 points.
The last bracket of points, 1-9, will be used for amount of marches, public spaces occupied, and minor disruptions to transportation or daily life in general. For every arrest your team suffers in the two-week period, you will receive half a point. This is perhaps where the smaller cells could make up ground on the more public ones that don’t draw celebrities or are unable to affect governmental change. Obviously, there is a lot of room for discussion between the commissioner and the participants, which is – as mentioned – one of the main tenants of the game and our society: for the people, by the people &c &c. One of the big things you will have to determine early on is the difference between police brutality (10-14 pts) and arrest or detainment (1/2 pt).
That is the breakdown for point gain.
Now we decide how one may lose points. We will use the same scale of 0-20. As with the positive points, there will always be room for friendly discourse on how best to assess the worth of an action/offense.
Points 16-20 are deducted if your area devotes more coverage to Tea Party rallies than #OWS events. The five-point swing allows for determining whether news coverage on Tea Party events is generated from local press (16-17pts), Fox News (18-19pts), or similarly ubiquitous liberal news sources (20pt).
If your team spends its two-week period confusing news organizations and the general public with seemingly conflicting messages or non-sequitur demands you will lose 11-15 points. Much of the Midwest and working peoples in general are struggling to navigate this hairy system, so it is important that your team (especially the more radical-leaning coastal groups) are deliberate and definite in their weekly efforts.
Continuing, 6-10 points will be deducted if an Internet meme is born from your team’s activities. We will reference the earlier photo of Lt. John Pike pepper-spraying the students at UC Davis. From that act, Team #OCCUPYUCDAVIS would have scored 13 points, however, the meme generated from the action would result in a -10, netting them only 3 points.
While funny, this adds little to the movement and only confuses the public about its motivations.
The final set of 1-5 will be deducted for trivial matters upon which your league and the commissioner agree. Some suggestions, for instance: if photos are published of your team and the protestors are carrying more cameras or iPhones than actual signs; if there is not one non-Anglo present in photos or videos of your protest from the week; if the slogans your team chants are along the lines of “This is what a police state looks like” because it’s not, we do not live in anything remotely close to a police state; or if you have unfortunate celebrity endorsements for the week such as Yoko Ono or Alec Baldwin.
And that, my 99%ers, is the breakdown of the first ever #OWS Fantasy League. We will be kicking (marching) off the first season in a few weeks, so do your research and prep your friends. This promises to be bigger and better and more arbitrary than any fantasy league you’ve ever played in before. Just imagine, you could draft little underdog Team #OCCUPYBISMARCK and make it all the way to the championship match and when everyone from #OCCUPYNEWYORK to #OCCUPYTUSCON is marching and chanting, “The whole world is watching,” they are absolutely right. The whole world is watching, watching you win the first season of #OWS Fantasy League.