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It's football season and that means it's fantasy football season. For, while it's fun to watch athletes give each other concussions for your amusement, it's even more fun when you can pretend that you're in charge.
And while the American workplace might not be as tight as it once was (almost no one has close friends at work, The New York Times reported last week), fantasy football remains one of the few social activities that regularly spills into the office place -- including law firms. So whether you're a stats nerd, football fan, or just like having some fun, it's worth taking part. When you do, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Take the Chance to Connect With Colleagues
Full disclosure: I'm not the world's biggest sportsball fan. In fact, I might only watch a few sports games (of any stripe) a year. But I still find fantasy football fun. So whether you're a casual or a hardcore cheesehead, fantasy football is worth checking out. More importantly, a firm fantasy football league offers you a change to connect with your colleagues -- possibly even with participating partners that would otherwise keep you an arm's length away.
2. Don't Be That Guy
For some reason, make-believe sports can bring out the worst in people. There's always the guy who pressures everyone to join the league, just to enlarge the pot (see below for info on fantasy football betting). Then there's the guy who thinks he'll talk smack to everyone, just because he came out in front for once. Then there's the guy who gives up after a few setbacks. Don't be that guy. Don't be any of the guys.
3. Be Aware of Gambling Laws
If you're betting on fantasy football, you might be breaking the law. (Breaking the law is probably a bad thing for firms to organize. Skirting the law on the other hand...) Federal law prohibits betting on "games of chance" that are based on a pool of bets or number of players in a league, for example. State laws can be more strict, banning betting where the outcome is determined by "any chance" or "more chance than skill."
4. Pay Attention to Pay-to-Play Platforms
If your fantasy football platform requires you to pony up to play, there might also be legal complications. The NFL's own Fantasy Ultimate Experience Leagues are prohibited in seven states: Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota and Washington. At least one Congressman is looking into the legality of platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel.
5. It's Just a Game
In fact, it's barely a game. It's a fantasy game. So don't take it too seriously. Whatever you do, don't write a full appellate brief because a fantasy football trade didn't go your way.