Joining the Fantasy Football League from my job kept me quitting

My job sucked. Long hours and reduced pay for everyone during the first year of the pandemic, along with a lack of simple recognition, led me to consider bailing out.

But before joining millions of others in the “Great Resignation”, I decided to try to enjoy my work in new ways. I knew that any change had to start with my own outlook and actions, so when a colleague of mine asked me if I wanted to join a workplace fantasy football league, I said yes.

It doesn’t matter that I rarely watch football

I grew up in a football-loving family, but as a teenager in the 80s, passionate about new-wave music and a rebel against sports, I rejected sport on principle. Later, in my thirties, I realized that I enjoyed the camaraderie and instant bonds formed when sharing the rooting ritual for a team or against a team – even though I still dislike the sport and refuse to spend three hours watching a match.

For the past four years, before the pandemic, I worked remotely from my home office. This arrangement allowed for a flexible work schedule, giving me the freedom to go to weekly yoga classes, business networking lunches, and quick errands.

When the pandemic lockdowns started, like most people, I didn’t bother to look presentable and relied too much on email and instant messaging.

Days would pass without any phone conversations or video calls

As I worked on my commitment to make changes to give my job a second chance, I was excited to start something fun with my colleagues.

Our league draft happened just a day after I committed to join. My heart sank when I realized I was in over my head. No amount of frantic googling or watching videos online helped me understand the basics of the game. Every article was beyond my limited knowledge.

Ready with my glass of sauvignon blanc, I logged on to video chat to start the league draft with several salespeople, my boss, some IT people, and another marketing colleague. After fumbling the first half, a salesperson told me about his draft strategy. He sorted the players and chose them based on their projected season points.

“How do you do this?” I cried. After he showed me the simple steps, I recruited what turned out to be my best player.

Seven weeks into the season I haven’t had any wins

Sitting in last place, I asked for help from another of my fellow fantasy football players. We worked together for three years, but we rarely talked about personal things. I knew he had a wife and children, but not much more.

Vicky Grogg's fantasy football score.

Courtesy of Vicky Grogg

When I asked him to help me understand fantasy football, his face lit up. He shared the types of players I should have on my squad, how to add available players during the week, and simple strategies to maximize my weekly points.

From there, we talked about his recent family trip to an amusement park and his ability to watch a football game on his app while he waited in line for a ride. It was her daughter’s first time riding a roller coaster.

I shared my favorite hiking and birding spots around my current Las Vegas home and told him about the small stand of yellowing Aspens on nearby Mount Charleston – a place that tourists in Las Vegas generally lacking.

Being in the league made me reach out to my teammates

I called more often than I emailed and joined meetings a few minutes early to engage in silly chatter about games of the week.

My attitude towards my work and my relationships with my colleagues improved simply because I agreed to join a fantasy football league.

I made an effort to try something outside of my comfort zone

Although I didn’t think being part of a fantasy football league would drastically change my outlook on work, the camaraderie and connection has improved my overall job satisfaction. Now, instead of writing my resignation letter, I’m eagerly awaiting the next draft.

At the end of the season, I found myself in 11th place, but I still feel like I won.

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