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The Continued Saga of Being a Token Chick

I am somewhat of an anomaly. A chick who likes to play fantasy football. Not all that terribly common. Seriously. Other than a one year stint when my sister made an attempt to play, I have been the only one in the many and varied leagues that I am in.

Last year I wrote an article about my venture into this crazy world of fantasy football. And it has continued to be an adventure. I would like to think that my being a woman does not have anything to do with my experience playing fantasy football. But it has.

How many of you men out there have significant others to appease once the football season begins? Not just the football season, training camps. Not just training camps, the arrival of fantasy football magazines in stores. Not just the arrival of the magazines, the NFL draft. Not so in my house. I follow those all even before my husband begins to think about football.

People I talk to look at me a little incredulously when I tell them that one of my hobbies is playing fantasy football. You play fantasy football? I find myself having to explain exactly what fantasy football is. And then it turns into, you write about fantasy football? You get paid to watch NFL games? I am lucky if my wife does not get upset on Sunday if I watch a game other than the Lions. I know, I know the Lions, but I live in Michigan.

I know that sometimes my opinions get dismissed quicker because of my gender. A couple of years ago, my son played football for the first time. He was eight years old and was in a Pop Warner type league. Practices would run for two hours, three times a week. Most parents would hang out for a while to watch the practice progress. One rainy evening, everyone was gathering under the only shelter. It was mostly the boys' dads and me. The topic of conversation was the upcoming Lions' game against the Denver Broncos that Sunday. This was when Clinton Portis was still a Bronco and was nursing an injury and was potentially not going to play. The dads were all talking about whether or not the Lions would be able to stop Portis. But anyone who has played fantasy football knows that Mike Shanahan is one of the most frustrating coaches to owners and keeps his intentions hidden sometimes right up until the start of a game. Well, I had a few opinions and some insight into the situation that the dads weren't considering. I am a little on the quiet side, but I bravely offered up a different take than theirs. I was certain that Portis would not play so that he would be rested for the upcoming game against the Kansas City Chiefs. My opinion was not one that had been voiced by them. But not one of them gave me any heed. Not one listened to what I had to say. And as it happened, it turned out that I was right.

Now in defense of those dads, they did not really know me very well at all, or my interest in football. And it is different with those who know me well. We have a group of seven couples that we get together with a couple of times a month. They know me and that I can intelligently discuss football with them. And when the discussion inevitably turns to what is happening in the NFL, they listen to what I have to say.

It even impacts the drafts that I participate in. In one of my local leagues, we get together yearly for the draft at the commissioner's house. Spouses are invited. The other women spend their time during the draft and breaks talking about their kids, weddings, and recipes. I like to talk about all of those things too. But on draft day, I stick with the guys. During breaks, I find myself outside with them picking apart everyone else's draft picks.

And then last year during my first Footballguys staff draft, we were drafting online with a chat room and someone asked if they all had to be gentlemen and on their best behavior since I was in the draft chat room.

When I joined the game recap team for Footballguys, Joe sent out a welcome e-mail to the team and he graciously noted that when he used the term guys, I was included in that. Same thing when I joined the staff the following year. It does not bother me and I actually appreciate that I am treated like one of the guys. But it still is a distinction that sets me apart because of my gender.

Yes being a chick does color my experience with fantasy football. But now, seven years into this, I am just a fantasy geek like the rest of you. I regale and I am sure sometimes annoy my coworkers with stories of my successes and failures. I comb the waiver wire to find those players who will give my team the edge. I am a frequent visitor on the NFL.com website. And most importantly, I am generally considered a threat in the leagues that I play in.

I know that there are other chicks out there like me. And I am sure that some of them even subscribe to Footballguys. I would love to hear your stories, you can write me at fazio@footballguys.com.

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