Football season began September 8. For
more than 20 million
Americans, that’s when fantasy football began too.
Not for me. I’m
sitting out this year’s fantasy action.
In my self-parody,
I’m not just sitting out – I’m sitting at
a banquet table. My lips are inches from a padded microphone. Reporters
the audience, awaiting my first words. I sip from a bottle of spring
clear my throat, and begin my emotional announcement: I’m
retiring from fantasy
sports, after 16 decorated seasons of play. I want to thank ESPN,
all the friends and relatives who’ve made it possible.
basketball, hockey: I’ve played them all.
And I’ve won them all. I’ve even been a bona fide
“expert,” analyzing athletes
for web sites and magazines targeting the fantasy sports community.
actually been paid to write about
But the time has come to
step down. After all, I’m 36 years
old. And this is a younger man’s game.
Will I be tempted to
un-retire? Sure. But I’m going to stay
strong. I’m not going to be some fantasy Favre, retiring and
un-retiring at a
There was a time when
fantasy sports were my favorite
escape. Tinkering with my lineups helped me get through work on
Preparing for drafts gave me something fun to do whenever real life
illnesses or heartbreaks.
But that time is over.
Somewhere along the line, fantasy
began to feel like work. Why was I spending any more sedentary time on
than I needed to? Fantasy also encroached on my enjoyment of actual
was obsessing over stats and schedules and injury reports, instead of
sitting back and savoring the action.
You’d be right to
wonder: Why now, at age 36, did all of this
begin to bother me? Weren’t the statistical obsessions and
annoying at age 26?
Yes and no. When I was 26,
there was no Facebook, no
Twitter, no LinkedIn, no Pandora, no iTunes, no YouTube. There were no
phones. Not everyone had Internet access at home. If you were online,
meant you were at work – and you were goofing off.
Today, we’re online
most of the time. I can’t handle that. For
four or five hours each day, I need to be unreachable: disconnected
world and solitary. That’s how I write. That’s how I
exercise. That’s how I
breathe. That’s how I live. It was easier to live that way 10
years ago, when
leaving work meant leaving the world of Internet connectivity. But in
there’s almost no escape – unless you make one for
yourself. And that’s the
biggest reason for my retirement.
As for my waning interest
in sports stats: call it a shift
in priorities. When I was 26, I didn’t mind spending all day
batting averages and rushing yards and goals scored and blocked shots.
the years passed, I wasn’t achieving what I wanted in my writing
simply realized: Time spent on sports could be time spent on prose.
it. Polishing it. Marketing it. Who was I to lament my unpublished
a literary man with a sports obsession – and dozens of
stories, if I still spent a preponderance of my free time in fantasy
So, this summer, in the
midst of four baseball leagues – in
first place in two of them – I announced my retirement on message
boards to my fantasy
colleagues. E-mails came pouring in: “Everything okay?”
“Let’s grab a beer
soon.” I reassured my peers: Everything was fine. I just
wasn’t having fun anymore.
I needed to spend less time on the computer. And at age 36, I felt I
focus on one labor of love – and it was fiction outdueling
fantasy after a fierce,
Two weeks after this
announcement, I learned a publisher had
accepted my novel. Now, whether the timing was coincidental or the work
cosmic forces is anyone’s guess. But I couldn’t help but
think a few stars were
finally aligning my way.
Ilan Mochari is the author of the novel Zinsky the Obscure (Fomite
2012). His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Keyhole, Stymie, Ruthie's Club and Oysters & Chocolate. In 2009, he received a Literature Artist Fellowship
grant from the
Somerville Arts Council. He is a former staff writer for Inc, and he has also
written for Fortune Small Business and CFO. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.