The 2022-2023 NFL Fantasy Football season ignites old friendships

Mayson Weingart

On Sept. 7, the official 2022-2023 National Football League (NFL) football season began, marking the start of Fantasy Football leagues across the U.S. These leagues, which typically include 10 to 12 players, offer an interactive way to become involved in the football world. Oftentimes, people start researching and planning out their drafts one to three weeks in advance so they can create the best teams possible.

Spending time with other players in his league, sophomore Jack Anderson (far left) enjoys the company of friends from school. (Photo courtesy of Jack Anderson)

Senior Hayden Gerber is currently involved in two different Fantasy Football leagues: one with his family, and another with friends. He has played for 8 years, and believes leagues offer several social benefits and gives him something to look forward to during the week.

Fantasy Football really helps me reconnect with old friends,” Gerber said. “Even if I don’t talk to [my league members] for a while, I always know that we will have our annual league. It definitely makes me more invested in the NFL 

season in general. If a player that is on my Fantasy team is playing, then I want to watch him and root for his success.”

Similar to Gerber, sophomore Jack Anderson participates in two different leagues and loves watching his team in every game. 

“Usually I just watch my favorite team, the Carolina Panthers, but ever since I started playing Fantasy [Football] I follow a lot more games. I can monitor how my players are doing, and on Sundays I always have a

Drafting his team with his dad, sophomore Jack Anderson participates in a father-son league outside of school. (Photo courtesy of Jack Anderson)

game on. I have become a much bigger fan of the sport and [individual] players because of it,” Anderson said. 

Both Gerber and Anderson’s leagues involve rewards and punishments, and the winners and losers

will be determined by each team’s weekly wins and losses.

“Something that increases competitiveness in the league is punishments. One time, [our league’s punishment] was having to wear a mask to school for two weeks. The worst [punishment] was when someone had to shave their head,” Gerber said. “There’s also typically a reward too. In one of my leagues, everyone had to put in $25, making the pool $250 because there are 10 people in the league. The more money you put in, the more competitive it gets because it makes people more motivated to win.”

Anderson’s 12-person league also has each player pay $30 to enter the game, making the end prize a grand $360. 

Students like Gerber and Anderson have followed in the footsteps of those before them, such as physical education teacher Todd Van Peursem, who has participated in leagues for 15 consecutive years. Although he is not playing this year, he also believes the game is a great way to reunite old friendships.

“The draft is always special because it keeps everyone connected, even if they live in different places. When all my friends [and I] were moving across the country for college, having families and settling down, Fantasy was a way to keep us close in a fun and friendly way. With my high school buddies, we would always take it super seriously and make the draft an event. Sometimes we would even plan it months in advance,” Van Peursem said.

Planning his lineup for the week, senior Hayden Gerber selects his team. (Photo courtesy of Hayden Gerber)

In the past, Van Peursem and his friends have taken joy in making the game very competitive to increase overall effort.

“The drafts were always highly anticipated, and we would make weekends out of them. It would be a whole set up with draft boards and we would show up and be so dialed in with all the excitement and nerves. If someone couldn’t make it, they would Skype in so everyone was there. You can feel the energy, excitement and ridiculous banter that goes along with that competitive aspect of the game,” Van Peursem said. “There is a very playful nature to it.”

With the NFL season underway, league members are going head to head each week until the end of the season in hopes of winning big prizes, which keeps them actively participating. For Van Peursem, the joyful nature Fantasy Football brings to the sport has forever changed the culture of football.

“Where people used to only watch their favorite team in the NFL, Fantasy has shifted the dynamic of the league by making people loyal to players on varying teams. It teaches you a lot about the game, if you’re really into it,” Van Peursem said. “It really made the game a lot more accessible to a greater variety of people rather than just the traditional, testosterone-filled football scene.”