Millions of fans take part in fantasy football every season. For some it becomes their world and others it's just another thing to check off their list every day.
What would you say if I told you that for some people it's more than just those two options. For some people it's become their crutch through life.
I'm not talking about those of us who are obsessed with the game. No I'm talking about the people who are struggling in life, those who use fantasy as their lone bright spot, the one thing that keeps them going.
I know this seems like an odd story to share. Of course there are people who make fantasy football their everything. However this time it's different.
I read an article late in the 2011 season by Matthew Berry and enjoyed it, as I do many of his articles. At the time it was just another Love/Hate, another fantasy article to pass the time and to help me prep for the opponent that week. Looking back I realize that I didn't fully take in the message he tried to portray in it.
I Missed the Message
He talked about struggle and triumph. How important it was to always remember that "Whatever your challenge in life, meet it head on, and hold on to whatever you have that makes you stronger." This message is about more than just fantasy, it's about life. And it's something we should all keep in mind.
Now in hindsight that seems like a pretty clear message, but the reality is I missed what was right in front of me. Just last week Matthew reshared the article online as one of the people he wrote about in the story passed away. It was his one last tribute to a great man. It was this tribute that caused me to read the article again, to truly take in what it said and to reflect on it's impact.
The Story That Had An Impact
I'll share with you below the short story that Matthew shared with his readers.
What's up, TMR?
When I was 25 years old, in the spring of 2008, I had been dating a girl for a year and was a high-level athlete, focused on training for my first marathon. That all changed in April of that year when I was diagnosed with an incredibly rare, yet dangerous form of appendix cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei, or PMP for short.
I am in a 10-year-old fantasy football league. I have done it with my college friends, and it's the only time of the year we all get together, regardless of marriage, kids, etc. So, that year in late August, I did my draft and said goodbye to all my friends as I headed one week later from Connecticut to Baltimore for a radical surgery with curative intent for my disease.
The operation was grueling and 14 hours long. I had 30 pounds of tumor removed from my abdomen and lost every non-essential organ I had. This, along with the overall trauma of such an operation, cost me many of my life's goals, including the Hartford marathon I was training for.
In recovery in the hospital, I was not doing well. The first weekend I couldn't set my own lineup, so my girlfriend did it for me. I won that Sunday (no Monday players) and the next day had several tubes and drains removed. It was my first victory coupled with a fantasy victory.
Later that week I got out of the hospital and my friends came down to see me before heading back on Sunday. I won again in fantasy and was released to go home soon thereafter. I don't know if it was fighting spirit, but somehow each victory in fantasy football brought about a victory in life.
Now I faced my biggest challenge: six months of chemotherapy. My lack of real-life competition was replaced by a competition that had terrible effects on my body. But I did it. And while recovering from the infusions, I started to read a lot of articles on fantasy sports. Like, every one I could get my hands on. I made some trades, I ended up making the playoffs and during both of those playoff weeks, [Philip] Rivers went off and won both matchups for me.
So, I won a championship, so far since then have won a battle with cancer, and even more than that, that girl that set my lineup? She is now my wife. And we couldn't be happier together. … Maybe the [point] is that when I needed it the most, when I needed to see victory in something minor to motivate myself for victory in something major, it happened.
I may not ever get to run the Hartford marathon. I may not be able to play on a flag football team anymore. But I will always have that fantasy championship. Most people would laugh at this idea that a fantasy sports team can be important. But, considering it's your passion and job, I can only hope you see how it has affected me positively.
Good luck with the book, keep the love/hate coming, and I'll keep reading.
Doug recently passed away on April 6, 2014.
People passing away is unfortunately something that we must all deal with in life. Doug fought through things that I hope I, nor you, ever have to encounter in life. I won't pretend to understand how he felt or what he went through, I never personally knew him or his wife. But what his story represents to me is hope.
Finding Hope Wherever You Can
It represents that we can find hope in everything we do. That when times are tough it's the little things that mean the most. For me, seeing someone in Doug's position appreciating the little things, when no one would have blamed him for being negative is simply remarkable.
I send my regards to his wife, his family and his friends for their loss. But I would like you to know that he touched the life of someone he'd never met and I have no doubt that there are countless others like me out there. For that Doug, we are truly grateful.
The original article that was written by Matthew Berry can be found here.
For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
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