By Jeff Melbostad

After a season-long hiatus the Morality in Fantasy Football series returns this week with another controversial topic.  For those of you who haven’t been exposed to the series yet we cover a variety of issues that are bound to create moral strife in your fantasy football league.  Morality is present in all aspects of our lives and fantasy football is no exception.  We all strive to win and to win at all costs, which is where ethics, undercutting, and decision making comes into play.  Today I’m going to discuss fantasy versus reality.  Who do you root for when your top fantasy player is playing against your favorite real life team?  This situation presents more of an internal conflict than an interpersonal one but it’s a test of our ethics and dedication none-the-less.

Here is a hypothetical situation for you.  Let’s say you’re a huge fan of the Minnesota Vikings (as I am) and that your fantasy team has Arian Foster as the lead dog.  The Houston Texans happen to be playing the Vikings this week.  Enter moral dilemma.  The Texans likely don’t win without a big game from your favorite fantasy player, which is a good thing for your real life squad.  Still, that also likely means your floundering fantasy team has no shot at a win and will miss the playoffs entirely.  Now, if Foster goes off the Vikings probably lose but your fantasy team advances to the playoffs and has a shot at the coveted fantasy bowl trophy and a $300 pot.  Where does your loyalty lie?

There are a hundred ways this tangled web can be spun.  Loyalty, fanship, pride, money, accomplishment, individual, team, and fun are all words and concepts that will factor into your own personal decision.  It basically boils down to what you deem important.  I have a feeling many of us would use money as a large consideration.  If it means one can win $300 even if my favorite team is out of the playoffs who wouldn’t take the money and run right?  Well that’s another spot where morality comes in.  Some will argue that decision is borne of greed.  One of the seven deadly sins involves morality to be sure.  In high stakes leagues this trap is much easier to fall into.  If I have $3000 dollars on the line instead of $300 it’s going to be pretty darn tough to not root for my fantasy team.  Still, what is your fanship worth to you?  Is it selling out when you root against a squad you’ve supported (and likely your whole family has supported) for a good long time?  The flip side of this argument is what does being a fan really net you in return?  It’s an often-thankless position and is it really worth giving up real life dollars for?  The answer to all of the questions is likely to be different for each and every one of us.

Being a fan is more than just rooting for you favorite team.  For many of us it’s living and breathing that team.   Supporting them through thick and thin whether the chips are up or down. I know I’d do just about anything if only my Vikings could win a Superbowl.  Fandom runs deep and isn’t an easy thing to displace or replace.  So why would a true fan even consider rooting for their fantasy squad over the real life team their a fan of?  Seems like this is an easy argument right?  It’s really a matter of what team you’re truly a fan of I suspect.  Are you a bigger fan of your NFL team or your fantasy team?  A bigger fan of reality or fantasy?

Now I know what you’re thinking.  There’s a way out of this predicament!  I can root for Arian Foster to run for 200 yards AND for the Vikings to win.  I’d be lying if I hadn’t rooted for this very thing a number of times but NO!  You can’t cop out like that.  If you use that little loop hole then this morality in fantasy football article has no moral dilemma at all.  And since it’s my article you’re stuck with my rules so get that thought out of your head right now.  This type of logic is the type of thing you’ll only find in fantasy sports.  In real sports you want nothing more than to crush your competition and for them to score 0 points, get 0 yards, and fail every step of the way.

So back to the topic at hand.  We all have things we struggle with in fantasy sports.  Things that we aren’t sure we should do and we can’t decide if they are right or wrong.  Sometimes the thing we struggle with the most is the fact that it IS indeed fantasy.  It isn’t real.  We make it as real as we can and we still take it seriously.  For many of us this is a hobby and a passion, much like our loyalty to our favorite sports team.  Regardless, do me a favor and don’t sell out on your team just to keep your fantasy football hopes alive.  Even if you feel fine with it your fellow fans aren’t likely to see the logic in it.  They’ll color you a traitor, a sell-out, a douche-bag and a number of other, more nasty words.  Man up and cheer for your favorite real life team first and let the fantasy chips fall where they may.  I know many of us have so many fantasy teams we wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of who we should or shouldn’t root for anyway.

I’ll tell you what my personal approach to this situation is.  I’m a fan of the Minnesota Vikings first and foremost.  I’ll root for them regardless of what it means for my fantasy teams.  If that means rooting against my fantasy title shot and fantasy immortality then so be it.  I value my real life fanship over my fantasy ownership.  It’s just the way I see things.  So, I personally feel that rooting against your favorite team in the interest of fantasy football is indeed wrong.  If you disagree then so be it, but that’s my take and I’m sticking to it.

I’m sure a number of you have run into this issue before in your fantasy lives.  What were your experiences?  Which team did you decide to root for and how did you decide?  I’d love to hear your opinion as well as your personal verdict on whether rooting against your favorite team is right or wrong.  Hit me up with some comments below or head on over to our forums.  Half the fun of these right or wrong decisions is discussing them with others after all.  See you all next time.