After a gorgeous summer, the air has started to cool off a bit and the sun is coming up later and later seemingly every morning. This means a few things. First, fall is on the way. Second, football season is almost here. And with it comes fantasy football.
As you dust off oversized ‘12’ flags and break out throwback Kenny Easley jerseys to celebrate Blue Friday, many of you are likely feverishly preparing for upcoming drafts. You’re probably wading through stat sheets, projections, matchups, and more as you prep to pick the best players and search for sleeper picks. Even if they aren’t Seahawks.
While fantasy football is a fun way to enhance the act of watching the NFL and adds a layer of intrigue to out-of-market games, it can also have unexpected benefits for divorced dads.
Noncustodial parents often have a rough go this time of year. There’s usually more opportunity to spend time with the kids during the summer. But as they head back to school, with fall sports, friends, homework, and other time-consuming activities, you may not see them as frequently.
While it may seem frivolous, playing fantasy football with your children can benefit divorced dads in a number of ways. It often provides an extra avenue to connect and strengthen family bonds. There are even ways it helps teach valuable skills and important life lessons.
1. Perseverance, Patience, and Commitment
Instant gratification isn’t in the cards if you play fantasy football. To do it right, even the draft requires research and preparation. Once you have your team, you have to review your roster and potential matchups week after week. The season goes on for a long time. Even on a weekly basis, you often have to wait until late Monday night to get your results. Making it through an entire season takes perseverance, patience, and commitment. All useful traits to have. Playing a silly game can help reinforce these attribute in your kids.
2. A Mathematical Mindset
Not all kids take to math in a classroom setting. But there are ways to practice without using a textbook, and fantasy football is one. Basic arithmetic; multiples, especially of three, six, and seven; and even certain algebraic functions all play a part. You calculate scores, figure out how many points you need to win, and perform more mathematical functions. Fantasy football frames these skills in a fun, energetic way. It shows how math has practical applications beyond endlessly writing out arithmetic problems from a book.
3. Fantasy Football and Predictive Modeling
Fantasy football is all about predicting the future. You look at past performances, scrutinize upcoming team and one-on-one matchups, and account for all manner of variables. People even weigh weather conditions, start times, and distance traveled. No matter how specific and detailed you want to go, someone out there probably goes deeper. Kids learn to examine the factors and use that information to predict an outcome. And because we’re talking about life lessons, they also have the opportunity to learn a valuable one. Even the best predictions don’t always work out.
4. Dealing with Disappointment
Life isn’t always fair and disappointment is a part of growing up. That may sound cruel, but we all know it’s true. We also know this happens all the time when it comes to sports. Upsets are a part of the game. Players deal with injuries or don’t perform up to expectations. Refs botch calls. And sometimes the best team on a particular day isn’t necessarily the best team on paper. That’s why they play the games. This isn’t always an easy lesson to learn. But fantasy football can provide a framework for this growth experience with little to no lasting consequences.
5. Critical Thinking and Decision Making
Critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision making are valuable skills to develop at any age. They also lie at the heart of fantasy football. You look at the game from multiple angles. Successful players absorb and interpret a wide range of information. And in the end, you take all of this knowledge and perspective and make decisions based on what you find. This process can help develop a child’s comprehension abilities and sharpen their use of logic and reason to draw conclusions and make choices.
6. Improve the Parent-Child Bond
Going through a divorce is a tough time. This goes for you and your children. It’s important for both of your sakes that you do what you can to remain in their life. Take advantage of every chance you get to spend time with your kids or interact with them. Fantasy football often offers one way to accomplish that. It’s certainly a fun, entertaining activity for fathers and kids. But beyond that, it’s one more way to show them you care and that you’re there for them. Sometimes it’s just that simple, and you both reap the benefits.
This time of year, fantasy football takes over. Magazines, radio shows, TV programs, and even entire websites exist just to feed the insatiable hunger. While it may seem impractical or even silly, there are ways you can turn it to your advantage as a divorced dad.