Recently, on a blog that was mainly intended for my musings about pop culture (specifically music), I got to talking about sports rather frequently, and certainly more often than some of my less-sports-inclined friends appreciated. Inspired mostly by the meanderings of Free Darko, I liked approaching sports through a different lens. I ended up writing for a long essay about how I thought that Dwight Howard wasn't really the MVP of the Orlando Magic (whatever that means), and that his freak athleticism but lack of advanced basketball skills would eventually lead to his downfall as the last of an era gone by the wayside. Needless to say, people disagreed.
Last year, in the midst of what can only be called a breakout season, I deemed Steve Breaston "Burgeoning Wolverine Star". I had taken him almost certainly too high in a fantasy draft of friends who laughed at me and told me I'm a homer and an idiot. I am likely one of the two. But as the season went on and Anquan Boldin continued to sit out while doctors reconstructed his face, Breaston turned into, well, kind of a good receiver. Always playing second fiddle to Braylon Edwards at Michigan, Breaston's skills seemed to put him in the "forgettable" category of NFL players hardly worth half their salary.
About a month before my 2009 fantasy football draft, I started telling everyone just how good Mario Manningham was going to be. Almost everyone laughed at me in one way or another. I referred to him as "a singular talent" and someone who, once given the opportunity, would shine; the New York Giants were in the position to afford such a situation. And lo and behold, just two games into the season, I've had friends begrudgingly tell me that he was, "*sigh*, a good pick" before subsequently going to pick him off the waivers in their other leagues. Not that I felt vindicated, per se, but I did feel a tinge of happiness, not only about being right but also seeing a "hero"--in whatever sense a third-string wide receiver who I've never met can be a hero--succeed.
One of the people that used to be in our fantasy league, the esteemed Todd Burns, said that the reason he left the league was because he was tired of having to root against his team for the sake of his fantasy projections. Drafting your heroes makes this more enjoyable.
And so Burgeoning Wolverine Star is borne into existence. My homerism will largely be absent, or at least as much as it's able to be withheld. I think Georgia Tech is the most interesting football team to watch on the weight of Paul Johnson's genius; I largely loathe watching the NFL, although I'll likely dedicate a lot of space here writing about it; and I'm of the belief that the world of sports is in the middle of a seismic shift wherein athletes surpass specialists--the difference between Pau Gasol and Shaq.
And hopefully, we'll all be able to root for our heroes.