Matthew Berry’s new book, Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who’s Lived It is aptly titled. The stories are outrageous; some are downright insane. They are uplifting, both in the sense of being funny but also in the sense of being sweet and heartwarming. There are more than a few heartbreaking stories included as well. I admit I was moved to tears a few times (but any story involving dads&kids will do that to me!). And lastly, Berry structures the book with his own unlikely and funny biography of how he got into the business of fantasy sports.
Fantasy sports are certainly not for everyone (what recreation is?) but for those who have played casually or obsessively, Berry’s book lets you know that you are not alone in enjoying it–and that more than likely there is some one way more crazed and obsessed than you! And if you are friend, family member, or spouse of a fantasy player, this book can give you a bit of insight into why he or she plays fantasy.
The single biggest focus of Berry’s book, and this is something Mike and I brought up in The Sports Ethicist Podcast and Dr. Andy Koehl brought up in his symposium talk, is that fantasy sports is something that brings people together. Old friends, college buddies, families, co-workers all come together to play fantasy sports of various kinds. As Berry says:
…the truth is it’s all about the people. It’s not the draft, it’s not the trash talk or the punishments, it’s not even the winning (okay, maybe it’s a little bit the winning). It’s the people. It’s the people who make the draft and the trash talk and the punishments and the winning what it is.
This is a big part of why so many people play fantasy (over 30 million in US and Canada). It is fun and it is a community. Much of Berry’s book are just the stories of people having fun and partaking in this fun within a community of folks who share the fun (and the winning!).
Now, you don’t have to be a hard core fantasy player to appreciate this book, but, be careful, you might want to be when you are done.