Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Legion of Womb

There are few things closer to my heart than friends and football. I love the sisterhood and fellowship that happens when I am with my friends. Over the years and in many ways there has been deep conversations, sharing and mutual concern as we celebrate and grieve with one another. There is encouragement, sympathy and, always, laughter will make its way into every conversation. Now football is among the facets of these ever evolving relationships. When I got this crazy idea of writing about the football journeys of my friends, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be game for it. And yet, each person I asked said, “yes”. I’m sure this speaks to the daring of their characters, the trust of our friendship, and of course the promise of food. And so we embark in our first annual women’s only fantasy football league known as the Legion of Womb. It consists of twelve teams, made up of twelve female owners in varying degrees of football knowledge. Our motto is: “The league where women and womanly behavior dominate. A place where we pick teams based on names that make us laugh, obligatory issues of homer-ism, and the pretty patterns all the colors on the draft board make.”

I have the privilege of knowing each of these wonderful women (and girls) in different arenas so it was such a blessing for me to have them get to know one another under my roof. They vary in age from high schoolers to grandmas and everything in between. There are business owners, teachers, administrators, ministers, managers, and students. A few knew each other but others did not; by the end of the night, however, they were all talking as old friends. The food was abundant and the laughs were non-stop. And although there were few that would admit to football knowledge, the competition was still healthy.

We had our draft this past Monday. We decided it would be an offline draft so not only could we all be together but we could also get to know one another better. Much to my delight, a few of them showed up with fantasy football magazines, cheat sheets and/or notes from husbands or friends on the best strategy to employ when drafting. I also had a cheat sheet compiled for each of my non-football-motivated friends: Those who aren’t interested or know anything about passing yards, rushing yards, points for td’s, or the like. This cheat sheet ranked the top 12 players in each position based on years married, children and their ages, charities that they supported or started and the player’s favorite color (which may or may not have been assigned by me).

Then the draft began, you could have cut the tension with a knife. Well not really, we were making baby-talk to our youngest member, Regan who is 6 mos. old. But with the first pick of the first round of the first year of the Legion of Womb Football League went to Peyton Manning. The first round was off to a great start with players like Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham being taken. In fact the first five rounds really showed how serious these ladies were…or how serious the people they were “secretly” texting felt.

Into the 6th round, many of the obvious picks were gone and so some of the other drafting strategies started to emerge. My daughter and one of her friends (both sixteen) began to employ the “Who has the funniest sounding name?” technique. Others began to count to see how many players of our local team, the Seahawks they had on their team. Panic ensued when they found themselves woefully short. There were times after a name was called, that the crowd stopped to advise or approve of the choice. The analytical questions like, “Now tell me why you are picking him?” or “Is it morally right for a Seattle fan to pick a 49er?”

One of the funnier things to watch was the group intervention that came about when an owner tried to take a 4th tight end. “We are very concerned over your obsession with tight ends, and from now on, you can’t draft anymore.” “Well I think I only need one more.” “No. you are done. Pick from the running back sheet, we aren’t going to allow you to pick a tight end.”

There were friends who could not make the draft for one reason or another and so we drafted their players by committee. It was one of the few times a streak of ruthlessness emerged: We drafted a kicker in the first round for one of them. But we began to feel guilty and gave her better picks for the remainder.

I had my friends fill out a questionnaire about why they were willing to be a part of this. They all have a desire to know more. My friend, Nikki, who is a part of the Legion of Womb, knows and follows football like I do, we are both excited to share and watch others love this sport the way we do. Although fantasy Football is a game inside a game, it gives the team owners a little more involvement in the NFL. It also helps to have a bit more global information about other NFL teams. I have already begun to hear a different language being spoken among my friends, “ Do you think I should bench this player in week 1?” or “Since I wasn’t allowed to draft anymore tight ends, can I get one off of waivers?” The answer is still no, but it warms my heart to hear the questions!

This is the first installment of the Legion of Womb chronicles. WE will be back after the first week to tell you more about the teams and how my beloved owners are doing after their first big week of football!

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