Without making this article an edition of dictionary corner, here is the official definition of schadenfreude: Satisfaction or pleasure felt at another’s misfortune, derived from the German Schaden (harm) and freude (joy). Nowhere is this emotion more evident than in Fantasy Football!
There is nothing more satisfying than watching a game that traditionally you would never care about, with players not even in your own team, just in the hope that the hapless defender your friend has in his line up might let in twelve or score an own goal. Perhaps his striker will only play five pointless minutes at the end of the game, or maybe even hit the jackpot with a first half red card – it’s a minus points bonanza!
Of course the flipside of this also holds true in Fantasy Football – rampant jealousy at your friend’s uncanny ability to change his Captain to that no-hope player who suddenly scores a hatrick or their decision to play five defenders all of whom keep clean sheets. Suddenly the point scoring takes a back seat to feelings of despair and revenge – in true British sporting tradition. It’s not the losing I hate, it’s the other chap winning that really gets on my goat!
Of course as the season progresses and your team gradually slips down the league table, the strong emotions that plagued every waking minute give way to apathy, depression and a grim sense of inevitability. The team starts to take a back seat, Friday nights and Saturday mornings aren’t spent poring over the latest statistics, but instead visiting friends or maybe even taking your wife breakfast in bed. In short, life just doesn’t seem worth living.
Eventually the only thing that keeps you from swinging on the end of a rope is the hope that maybe your Nemesis who has won the last five titles might slip up, make a mistake, forget that their Captain has been suspended. You become obsessed not with the fortunes of your own team (every member of which you now despise and blame for all the pain in the world) but rather you descend into a nightmarish, voyeuristic Fantasy Football Schadenfreude world.
Until next season of course! Next season it will all be different. Next season I will be Fantasy Football Champion!