DALLAS - Admission: There is nothing more boring than listening to someone else talk about their fantasy football league.
And I should know - I’ve been boring people with mine since 1990.
Fantasy Football has become huge business, with the first National Fantasy Football Convention taking place in Fair Park this hot and balmy weekend.
And man, it was a scene. It was Comic-Con in football jerseys.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game, you draft your own team of NFL players, who score points for your fantasy team based on how well they play in the real games. It gives fans the chance to play general manager, although without the real-life probability of getting fired every two years.
An estimated 57 million people play fantasy football. And it felt at times like most of them were in Fair Park at Saturday’s show.
I met Corey from New York City, who’s been trying to come to this convention since it was cancelled in 2015 in Las Vegas, and was thrilled it finally happened so he could meet some Dallas Cowboys. Mike from Madison, Wisconsin, is a hardcore Packers fan who loves fantasy football so much he flew in Friday to go to the opening party Friday night to meet some players. He’ll spend all day Saturday and Sunday at the convention, and then fly home Monday morning. He’s living the dream.
There are all sorts of booths and exhibits here. By my count, there are six million people in attendance who have their own fantasy football radio shows or podcasts. Mathematically speaking, all of them can’t be right. There’s at least two DJ’s and a guy walking around dressed as Jesus, and I can’t tell if he’s doing it ironically or not, so I stay away from him for fear of sudden lightning strikes. One vendor will make you a party bowl in the shape of a football stadium. One booth wants you to buy a leather belt holster with your team logo on it for beer bottles. There’s a booth that will set you up with your own press conference just to announce your draft or help you talk trash to your friends. There’s an entire wing of the building full of Dallas Cowboys themed cars. Why? Why not?
The Cowboys are obviously the big draw here, with quite a few players walking around signing autographs and probably 80 percent of the crowd wearing Cowboys colors. That’s no surprise though, even if this show were held in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, Cowboys jerseys would still outnumber every other team.
This is, on the surface, a dumb idea. It’s a national convention celebrating an imaginary contest, a game with no board or dice, only pen and paper. It’s like Dungeons and Dragons for football geeks.
And of course, that’s why it does exist, and succeeds wildly. People love this game because it gives them the chance to show off. Fantasy football is a contest of skill. And luck. And knowledge. And chance. And injuries, and occasional arrests and suspensions, and being obsessed with football enough to see those obstacles coming in time to recover. If the NFL needed a way to get you to pay attention to a Bears-Chargers matchup, they finally have it.
Everyone here has a fantasy football story, from Reggie from Tyler’s 38-year league to Chris from Arlington, who was in his first league last year and now plans to play for the rest of his life. The venue is packed with people whose favorite teams are their NFL team, and whatever their fantasy team is called.
And they don’t mind telling you about that team in great detail, either.
Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.