SIDELINES: What's nerdier, fantasy football or Dungeons and Dragons?

The more I think about it, the more fantasy football has a very geeky feel to it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing fantasy football and have played for the last 20 years with the same group of friends from junior high.

I also like to think that I am not a geek. I have never put one of those Blue Tooth thingies in my ear, I don’t play video games for hours on end, I got C’s and a few D’s in high school and I even know how to operate a chainsaw. You can’t get more un-geeky than being able to cut down a tree with a chainsaw, right?

But, when it comes to my fantasy football, I’m like one of those guys from “Revenge of the Nerds.” I’m Louis, Gilbert, Poindexter, Wormser and Booger all rolled into one when looking for that late-round sleeper that is going to propel me into my league’s “Fantasy Football Bowl.”

At least those “Revenge of the Nerds” guys were comfortable enough to actually call themselves what they were — nerds. So, I guess I have to be comfortable enough to call myself what I am — a fantasy football geek.

Where else could a group of 12 grown men with wives, kids and mortgages get together to play a “make-believe” game without getting made fun of?

If I heard about a group of 30-somethings being in a Dungeons and Dragons league, I would look for the nearest locker to stuff these guys into after giving them an atomic wedgie.

But putting football in front of the title makes everything OK.

The premise of fantasy football is simple. Team owners draft real NFL players, make weekly lineups, then get points for how their players do during the actual games. Owners go head-to-head throughout the season, culminating in the playoffs and a fantasy championship.

It’s basically Dungeons and Dragons for wanna-be, or never-were, jocks. In short, during both “make-believe” games, you are trying to accomplish something that you could never do in real life.

In fantasy football, you are managing Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson, and in Dungeons and Dragons, you are managing the elf or dwarf you drafted to slay a dragon. Unless you are delusional, or happen to be an actual NFL general manager or real-life dragon slayer, this is as close as your fantasy is going to get. In other words, it’s just people living out their fantasies.

The fantasy football world will kick into high gear this week, with most leagues holding their annual drafts. But, geekness aside, the make-believe sport is a huge business in the United States.

Fantasy football currently boasts more than 36 million participants in the United States and Canada, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. The boom coincided with the birth of the Internet, which made managing a team very easy.

According to a study a couple years ago,office workers combing the waiver wire for running backs or back-up quarterbacks are costing employers as much as $1.1 billion a week in lost productivity.

During the NFL regular season, millions spend an average of 50 minutes a week at work managing their fantasy teams, according to outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The study also cited a survey saying average fantasy sports owners spend 34 minutes a day just thinking about their teams and spend close to $500 a year on fantasy sports.

But, even with the immense popularity, fantasy football still has a very geeky feel to it. And I’m fine with that.

In other sports news:

• Wednesday marked the opening day of high school football practice around the state.

As usual, the Federal Way Eagles and longtime head coach John Meagher are loaded. The Eagles, who rolled through the regular season unbeaten last year before losing in the state quarterfinals to Camas, return studs like Keenan Curran, Chico McClatcher, Jared Pulu, Jay-Tee Tiulu and David Tiumalu.

Federal Way will again be the prohibitive favorite to win the SPSL South championship and will travel to Sparks Stadium in Puyallup to open the season against the Rogers Rams on Friday, Sept. 6.

Thomas Jefferson (3-7 last year) opens its season at home Sept. 6 against the Kentlake Falcons and Beamer (2-7 last year) invades Federal Way Memorial Stadium Sept. 7 against the Puyallup Vikings.

In 3A action, the Decatur Gators (2-8 last year) open with a non-league game against Wilson on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. It’s one of four games the Gators play this season on the untraditional Thursday night. Decatur also plays a 2 p.m. game against Battle Ground on Saturday, Sept. 21, in Federal Way.

The rest of the fall high school sports start turnouts on Monday.

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