Eagle Forum Adds Fantasy Football to List of Threats to America

by Dan Quinn

First they came for the homosexuals. Then they came for the abortionists. Now religious-righters are coming for you, fantasy football fans.

Cathie Adams, head of the far-right Texas Eagle Forum, sent to her email list today a new essay — penned by the group’s national leader and founder, Phyllis Schlafly — attacking folks who enjoy playing fantasy football.

Schlafly’s essay describes how hellish fantasy football really is:

“Fantasy football means imaginary games played by imaginary teams in imaginary leagues, which are made up of real players whose playing statistics are compiled from real football games. So instead of betting on the actual NFL games, fantasy football participants bet on something that depends on the actual NFL games.”

So the game involves creating “imaginary” entities whose ultimate success depends on the performance of actual individuals who make up those entities. Hmmm… It sounds a lot like mutual fund investing. Diabolical.

Schlafly goes on to explain how fantasy football hurts its participants:

“It’s illegal in most places to bet on actual NFL games, but fantasy football enables participants to do something similar by betting on fantasy teams that win or lose based on how real NFL players perform each week in real NFL games. Participants then boost the audience for sports channels by wasting untold hours watching out-of-town teams that affect the outcome of their bets on fantasy football.”

“Wasting untold hours”? Horrifying. It’s shocking that sports fans would willingly spend their Sundays watching something they enjoy.

Schlafly, who rose to a position of prominence on the religious right by opposing the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, goes on to expose the seamy underbelly of the fantasy football world — a world dominated by men:

“Hard-sell television ads entice viewers to participate in fantasy football games that can cost them many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and even addict them. Average American football fans, mostly men, are transformed into gamblers by get-rich-quick promises using these fantasy sports schemes.”

We certainly acknowledge that gambling is a serious problem for some people — as are other potentially addictive behaviors. But in fairness to fantasy football fans, whether or not their game is simply one of chance or one that also relies on skill and strategy (in choosing and using the actual players on a “team”) is an honest question. And people often spend quite a lot of money on various forms of entertainment that don’t involve gambling. Some of that entertainment might cost “hundreds or thousands of dollars” and involve “wasting untold hours,” as Schlafly puts it.

That brings us to another honest question: why is it that people like Phyllis Schlafly and Cathie Adams, who complain tirelessly about intrusive government, are among the first to want government to impose their personal moral standards on others — on gay people, on women who seek an abortion, on couples seeking to divorce, on gamblers, and so many others. The list is rather long.

Now Schlafly is targeting fans of fantasy football. But even she writes that more than 50 million Americans participate in that activity today. That’s a lot of people. Are they ready for their entertainment to become a political battleground for crusading religious-righters?