by Dale Reeves
Yesterday afternoon our church staff held our Fantasy Football draft during our lunch hour. This is the second year in a row our Christ’s Church staff has participated in a league together. This year we have twelve teams in our league, and it will certainly be a topic of discussion every Monday morning at our weekly staff meeting. Isn’t that what every church staff meeting should consist of—some smack talking, idle threats, and a few excuses from the previous week’s performance?
In case you’ve never played in a Fantasy Football league before, here’s how it works. In this friendly competition, each person gets to be the owner, general manager, and coach of his or her own football team. Each owner drafts a team made up of current NFL players, and based on their on-field performance in a given game each week, the owner/coach scores points. For example, if a team’s quarterback throws a touchdown, the team scores points. If a running back racks up yardage in a game, big points are scored. Receivers, place kickers, and defenses all add to a team’s point totals. Each week you go head-to-head against a different team in your league. Add up all the points and if your team’s points are higher than your opponent’s, you get a W for that week.
If a particular player on your team is struggling, you can release him, just like in the NFL. You can trade with other teams, or pick up a new player for your roster from the waiver wire. As the football season progresses, owners have to keep track of their players who are placed on the injured reserve list, and which NFL teams are on a bye for each week. And, just like the NFL, Fantasy Football has a postseason as well. At the end of the season, a champion is crowned, and bragging rights are set for the rest of the year until next season.
Our league commissioner is one of our church’s receptionists, Laurie Cullen. I asked her why she is the commish and she responded, “I enjoyed playing in the league last year and when I asked if we were doing it again this year, and who was heading it up, nobody stepped up to the plate.” (How’s that for mixing sports metaphors?) She continued, “I’ve done it in the past. . . . Somebody’s got to do it!” As church receptionist, she said, “One of the things I love about my job is helping wherever and whenever I’m needed. I really enjoy meeting the variety of people who come through our doors.” She and her husband John have been members of Christ’s Church for more than ten years.
In her personal life Laurie is a die-hard Wisconsin Badger fan. Regarding her NFL loyalties, she used to be a Green Bay Packer fan until they let Brett Favre go in 2008. Laurie explains, “I have tons of Green Bay swag. I will become a Packer fan again once Aaron Rodgers is gone!” Alrighty then.
What are her goals for the CC Staff Fantasy Football League? “As a staff, I hope that this helps us continue building camaraderie together, and that everyone just has a good time with it. We have several staff members who admittedly don’t know a lot about football, but I hope they engage with others and just enjoy the experience. We all do this as part of our desire to be team players on the church staff.” Can you tell she is a church staff member? She used one of our key words there—Engage!
Winning the Game
What are some key ingredients to having a successful Fantasy Football season? What do you need to do as an owner/coach to win the championship? As our senior minister Brad Wilson pointed out last Sunday, we must start the game out well. Our current teaching series is called “Winning the Game,” and it is based on the board game, The Game of Life. You can find out more here: Winning the Game: Episode 1. Starting out well in Fantasy Football means having a good draft of your players, landing a quarterback, running backs, and wide receivers who are projected to have great seasons. You do your homework in researching the best you can, then you hope and pray that your key players score the points expected, that they stay healthy, that you have a reliable place kicker, and you get lucky here and there with your draft picks and your pickups later.
When an owner loses players on his team to injuries and has to drop back and punt, and pick up available players who are not on anyone’s team yet, it gets interesting trying to shuffle the lineup around each week. This is one of the aspects of Fantasy Football I enjoy, and it causes me to be more engaged with what is happening in the NFL each week. A few other keys for winning include these tips: Don’t select too many players who have the same bye week; and don’t get enamored with picking too many players from your favorite NFL team (can I get a WHO-DEY?!?!).
So, what’s the intersection between Fantasy Football and the church? Both exist for our enjoyment as we really believe God has called us to experience authentic community together. God has “drafted” each of us; nobody is on his team by accident. Bragging rights are just for fun. When one team member suffers an injury, the team rallies around the one on the injured reserve list. On God’s team, the church, every player is indispensable. Whether on staff or serving as a volunteer, everyone has a vital role to fulfill—calling the plays from the sideline, executing the plays on the field, or boosting morale in the locker room. No second-string players exist on this team. God has given each of us the abilities to play the position he has called us to.
The apostle Paul explains it well:
“God has placed the parts in the body [ed. note: the team], every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:18, NIV).
“Anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5, NIV).
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, NIV).
As we compete side by side on God’s team, we all want to win the game together, helping each other get across the goal line. Regarding the CC Staff Fantasy Football League, good luck! And may the best man or woman win!