Leaving the ego-drama behind

Editor’s note: This is the final article of a two-part series that explores Christian themes seen through Fantasy Football.

According to ESPN, roughly 40 million Americans play fantasy football which is approximately 8% of the United States population. Here is the premise behind fantasy football: each fantasy football owner acts as a general manager who drafts real NFL players to create their own “fantasy team.” In other words, each person tries to create the ultimate football team that can compete against every other person’s team in their fantasy league.

Fantasy football has drawn millions of people into becoming fans of football. A few other benefits of fantasy football are that it helps to connect people, friends share in a common joy, and people enter into the game with greater interest.

There is one potential weakness though in fantasy football: there is a greater focus on players than teams. In other words, fantasy football elevates the success of individual players and barely recognizes team play. The way most fantasy leagues work is that quarterbacks are the most valuable players with running backs and wide receivers following behind in total points earned. The only quasi-team statistic found in most leagues is the position of defense where a fantasy owner drafts the Steelers defense or the Bills defense. Even this statistic only acknowledges part of a team (a football team has an offense too). Other than the defense, basically every fantasy football league statistic values individual players over the team.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest from the 20th century, discussed a difference which clearly talks about a choice that both fantasy football fans and Christians always have in front of them. Balthasar said that there are two dramas by which we can choose to live: the ego-drama or the theo-drama.

The ego-drama is the story where we are the center of attention in our lives. In other words, individuality matters most. The ego-drama is the “me, me, me” language that is always focused on the self. The theo-drama is more encompassing and looks at the team. The theo-drama is the story of a person’s role within the larger drama in which God is the director, author and conductor. The theo-drama demands that a person finds his or her role in relation to God.

The weakness of fantasy football is that it emphasizes the ego-drama, or the elevation of the football player above the team. Take a look at any NFL player: their jersey has the team name on the front and the last name on the back. The message is clear: the ego-drama must be left behind and the team must be placed at the forefront. In other words, the theo-drama is to be on the front of the spiritual jersey for the Christian.

Luke Daghir is a seminarian for the Diocese of Erie. He is with St. Joseph and St. Luke Parishes for his parish mission. He has participated in Fantasy Football for a number of seasons. His favorite football player to watch is Tom Brady. His column appears every other week.


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