Whether you’re a fantasy football rookie or veteran, you may have noticed that this sport provides all sorts of challenges: who to start, who to bench, who to pick up off the waiver wire, and who to drop from your squad. If you are one of the few who gets to sit on your butt and enjoy the entire 12+ hours of live NFL programming each weekend, my hat is off to you in admiration. To others that have significant others to attend to on the weekends, you have become aware of an additional challenge: balancing your love life with your football life. Since it’s now Week 3, your enthusiasm for fantasy football has probably placed a dent in your enthusiasm to shower your sweetie with affection on Sundays, and he/she has probably taken notice by now. This quandary places you at a crossroad. Do I maintain my current path and blow off romance on Sundays and Monday Night? Unless you’re dating Paul Aufiero, you probably need to somehow budget your time so that your sweetie doesn’t dump you by Columbus Day. Below are some strategies for keeping all parties happy:
1. EXPECT TO MISS 2-3 SUNDAYS – You can lay some ground rules to your mate about how important watching Sunday football is to your emotional well being, but you need to mentally prepare for the occasional Sunday away from football. Such reasons may include: a wedding, a family gathering, or time spent getting out of your girlfriend or boyfriend’s doghouse. Sacrifice is often viewed the ultimate gesture in maintaining a relationship, so keep a Sunday or two reserved for that moment when you feel your relationship may reach critical mass. In fact, look at the schedule for the week when half your team is on bye, where you’ll probably lose anyways, and reserve that week for some one-on-one time.
2. MAKE FUN PLANS SATURDAY NIGHT, EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, SUNDAY NIGHT – If your significant other and you share similar work schedules, then you should maximize your time spent together on your off days when football is not in session. In fact, bookending a football day between a breakfast date and a late dinner/movie is something I would recommend to avoid neglecting your loved one. Make plans for Saturday night followed with a breakfast and possible activity (religious services, a walk/hike/bike ride) the following morning. Before you separate for your day on the couch, think of a movie you’d like to see or a restaurant/particular dish you’d like to try for dinner. This will let your sweetie know that plans are on tap for later, and you’re thinking about him/her even as you immerse yourself in NFL action.
3. TRY TO EDUCATE, BUT DON’T PUSH IT – Unless your loved one outright detests football, try to gradually educate him/her if they are not familiar. If they have demonstrated a curiosity with what goes on during a game, describe the action in each play (but don’t overwhelm him/her with extraneous information) so that he/she will feel like you’re attempting to include him/her in an activity you love. Start with the explaining the quarterback’s role (since there’s a pretty good chance he/she has heard of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Joe Montana), then your favorite players or players on your fantasy team, run through the down-and-distance terminology (this tends to be one of the first concepts lost on football novices), the scoring system (why touchdowns are so important), explain how the big guys block and the skinny guys run, and this will lay a foundation of understanding for your mate so that you may fill in the blanks as you continue to bring him/her up to speed. If you gauge a willingness to learn from your significant other, then continue the education at a gradual rate. However, if your partner seems to lose interest, or is not enjoying the learning process that may bring the two of you closer, then don’t push football on him/her and respect the fact that you have fundamental differences in your hobbies.
4. LAY DOWN THE GROUND RULE THAT MNF IS A BONDING EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR BUDDIES – When Monday Night Football was conceived 40 years ago, it was intended as a night for football fans to focus on football, and gently settle into the new work week. At some point early in your relationship, it would be helpful to clarify that MNF is a special tradition that you have shared with your friends and fantasy league mates for a long time, and after so many years of friendship, this is the lone tradition that has stood the test of time. If you took my advice and showered your girlfriend or boyfriend with affection the preceding 36 hours, then you can probably get a reprieve to join your buddies at the pub for some Monday Night gridiron. However, if you didn’t employ the Saturday Night/Sunday Morning/Sunday Night strategy, or your loved one happens to start their break from their work week on Monday Night and would feel neglected if you were to step away from him/her at that time, then you may need to resort to the next strategy…
5. TIVO IS YOUR FRIEND (RECORD AND MINIMIZE WATCH TIME) – Sometimes, watching your favorite game is simply not in the cards if you want to maintain your relationship. Personally, I hate being that guy who records a game on TV at home and is yelling at everyone around them, “DON’T TELL ME THE SCORE! DON’T TELL ME WHO’S WINNING!!” Of course, human nature dictates that your so-called friends/coworkers/acquaintances will do everything in their power to spoil your suspense. However, there are times where you can shut out the world and share an evening in the comfort and solitude of your loved one. To help ensure this isolation, turn your phone off to avoid malicious scoring text updates from your network of acquaintances. Because you can skip the commercials, replay challenges and halftime shows, TiVo/DVR is a great tool that can get you up to speed in less time when you simply don’t have time to watch a particular game.
6. BE REALISTIC: YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE DAY AND ONE NIGHT OF FOOTBALL PER WEEK – Sometimes, you have to look at life through your partner’s eyes. He/she made the concession in your relationship to give you all of Sunday afternoon and Monday Night with your friends. In December, when college football ends and the TV time slots become reserved for NFL broadcasts on Saturdays, you can understand your sweetie’s frustration when you suddenly tell him/her you can’t go on Saturday date night because the Saints are hosting the Cowboys in a critical matchup for your fantasy football playoffs. “Wait..there’s football on Saturday now?!?” These games take place with the holidays fast approaching. To preserve domestic tranquility during the playoff stretch, you may need to record some Thursday, Friday Night and Saturday Night games later in the season.