Fantasy football changes viewing/rooting habits

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I'm a Philadelphia Eagles football fan through and through and have been since the days when they played at Franklin Field. I would never root against "my" team, but I admit that playing in fantasy football leagues skews my rooting and viewing practices.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, just different.

In the days before I played fantasy football, a.k.a. the '60s and '70s, I would never think of changing the channel during an "Iggles" game. I'd park myself in front of the television for three hours with only food and bathroom breaks allowed

And the opponent of the day, particularly the "hated" Cowboys who were sickeningly called "America's Team," was my "enemy." I would no more root for a player on that team than I would the guy who stole the car out of my driveway.

Fantasy sports has changed all that.

My rooting habits are different as well as my viewing schedule.

First off, while I'm happy to have Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy on my fantasy roster, I'm not opposed to having Tony Romo or Eli Manning either. I no longer think of players as either Eagles or the enemy, but as Eagles, my fantasy players or the rest of the league.

And I can root for my fantasy players even if they are playing against "my Iggles." I just hope that despite my fantasy player's good game, Philadelphia still comes out on top.

When the opposing team is marching down the field, people will frequently hear me say, "keep them out of the end zone, but if they absolutely have to score, I hope it's my guy."

Now if it's the final week of the fantasy championship and I really need a touchdown to bring home the trophy, I will admit to wavering, but I've never stepped over the line to root for a fantasy player over an Eagles win.

What has changed the most on those 17 fall Sundays is my television viewing habits.

With fantasy football comes the desire to see all of my players in action.

In the '90's it meant that "me and the guys" would meet at a sports bar, which was the only way to view all the games. We'd still make sure to have the Eagles game on the closest screen, but now we could watch every game.

The advance of the Internet, cable and satellite dishes have moved the viewing option to the home. I can now sit in the house and watch every game or the NFL's Red Zone to keep up with each and every contest. And I have my computer set to the Sports Network's scoreboard to keep up with my player's statistics.

Sure, I still watch the Eagles, but now commercials are a thing of the past. During stoppages in the action, the remote's buttons send me flying around the country in search of the big play.

Fantasy football also has me watching games I normally would bypass quicker than a colonoscopy. There is no way I would normally watch the Cincinnati Bengals play the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 this year - unless I have Peyton Hillis or A.J. Green on my roster.

Nor would I pay attention to the Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers game, except that I might be playing against Frank Gore or Marshawn Lynch.

Fantasy football has made me a viewer of every game, every Sunday, which must make the NFL very happy.

Now if only someone can develop a "scanning program" to automatically change the channel when any of my starting lineup is doing something good.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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