A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report has confirmed that Fantasy Premier League addiction is now close to “epidemic” proportions.
With 1 in 4 football fans already playing some version of fantasy football and this season set to see those numbers increase exponentially, local health authorities have advised they are struggling to cope.
James, from Wexford, has recently sought help after his family had noticed some disturbing trends in his behaviour.
“Regardless of what I was doing or where I was,” he says “I’d have to be online between 11:15 and 12:15 every Saturday morning. Some Saturdays I’d forget only to burst out of a shop, or a cafe, or, on one occasion, my grandmother’s funeral to get home, finalise my team and then check what changes the other lads had made. It’s gotten so that I plan my holidays around fantasy football and never go anywhere until the season is over”
James isn’t alone. The WHO predict that over 5 million people will be taking part in this season’s official fantasy football game, with countless others taking part via alternative versions.
James continues, “I first played fantasy football in back 1998. With Paolo di Canio the linchpin of my squad he then went and pushed that referee over and got banned for 11 matches. That’s when I should have quit. Another time, I had Klasnić as captain and he got sent off. I didn’t realise that captains get double points and you get a score of minus 3 for a red card. So, the minus 3 for the red was doubled to minus 6! The guys in my league still refer to doing something stupid as, “Doing a Klasnić.” Don’t even get me started on when Torres and Ivanović were both sent off for me in one match. Then, towards the end of last season, your man Pellegrini drops Clichy for no reason. No reason other than to push me over the edge, that is.”
James admits it is a problem and has made attempts to stop. “I’ve tried to wean myself off of it. To not care about who got the assist. To avoid the necessity of watching Hull V Stoke. To simply want my team to win without hoping they concede. Most importantly though, to avoid spending hours after the last match waiting for the bonus points, which are more like bogus points, to update before crying myself to sleep!!”
It’s not just during matches that James feels the pressure. “Even sorting out a decent team name does my head in. With player surnames like Cox, Fanni, Goodwillie, Assman (he’s from Argentina) and Fuchs knocking around, you’ve gotta make it a good one. I’ve spent 9 days working on just my team name!!”
By the time the Premiership kicks off this season, the fantasy football site will have been open for entries and “team tinkering” for 4 weeks. The HSE have advised that they’re already seeing the effects of loved ones being ignored while their partner stares blankly at the screen. Of people’s work ethic suffering as the newly promoted squads are trawled for bargain stars. Of repetitive strain injury from auto fill being pressed over and over until Haugaard stops being made captain.
To fight this wave of addiction, clinics have been set up throughout the country to help sufferers and they have advised anyone displaying the following symptoms to attend:
1) Recurrent failure to resist fantasy football. (“This is my last year. Again.”)
2) Frequently engaging in those behaviors to a greater extent or over a longer period of time than intended. (“I’ll just have a quick scan of it during Wednesday lunchtime. Oh look, it’s now Friday night.”)
3) Preoccupation with the behaviour or preparatory activities. (Planning your team while in the shower, stopped at traffic lights, during sex etc)
4) Frequently engaging in behaviour when expected to fulfill occupational obligations. (Being on first name terms with all members of HR)
5) Continuation of the behaviour despite knowing you have a problem. (“I can stop at anytime.”)
6) Giving up or limiting social, occupational or recreational activities because of the behaviour. (“I’ll meet up with you after the wedding, I’ve the suit on already anyway.”)
7) Resorting to violence if unable to engage in the behaviour at times. (Taking a golf club to your router if unable to login to the site on time.)