By Lisa Curry
I’m PR director for a township-owned TV station. This fall, a coworker set up an ESPN fantasy-football league for the township staff.
“You don’t have to know anything about football to play,” he assured me. “All the other women are in.”
How nice the guys were being inclusive, I thought. And if you didn’t have to know anything, I was certainly qualified.
When I looked at the players assigned to me in the automatic draft, I recognized Michael Vick, my nine-year-old son Griffin’s favorite quarterback, and Willie Parker of the Steelers. I’d never heard of the rest.
“Mommy, your tight end stinks,” Griffin said when he saw my roster. “And you need a gooder kicker.”
Too bad he wasn’t as interested in grammar as he was in football.
Weeks later, a coworker asked how my team was doing. I’d forgotten all about them, so I checked espn.com. My record was 0-2. My coworker – male – started talking about bye weeks and injuries. If a player isn’t playing, you need to bench him and substitute, I learned, or you won’t get any points.
Lesson #1: “You don’t have to know anything about football to play,” doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything.
My helpful coworker pointed to a note next to my tight end – the stinky one. He’d been dropped by his team.
I was at the bottom of the league standings, along with most of the other women. If I were of a more suspicious nature, I might wonder if inviting the women to play hadn’t been so much about being inclusive as about the men not wanting to lose.
Lesson #2: “You don’t have to know anything about football to play,” isn’t a lie, but it’s not the whole truth. The rest of it is, “but it sure helps to know something about football if you want to win.”
Now I was annoyed, but I knew exactly what to do. I had a son who spent all his spare time watching ESPN and studying football cards. The kid couldn’t remember the stages of the water cycle well enough to pass his science test, but he could name every NFL player’s team, position, and jersey number, á la Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbit: Sally Dibbs, Dibbs Sally, 461-0192.
I asked Griffin to manage my team. “You can do anything you want with them, sweetie – just win.”
That week, my team kicked butt. Griffin traded for a “gooder” kicker. One morning we missed the school bus because he found Santonio Holmes in the free-agent pool. Driving him to school made me late for work, but we needed another wide receiver.
In the six weeks since Griffin took over, we’ve lost only one game, making our record 5-3. Thanks to Michael Vick, our running backs, and the tight end we picked up to replace that stinky loser, we stomped last week’s opponent (male) 97-20.
I’m now sixth out of 17, the highest ranked woman in the township league.
Lesson #3: If you can’t beat ’em, recruit a small member of their gender to your side. (Luke, I’m your mother, she breathes through the black mask.)
As for little Rainman, I’m going to try to persuade him to use the force for good, not evil, and apply his uncanny memory to a worthier subject, like science or English.
But not until football season is over.