We all have our hobbies. From gardening to kayaking, they’re the things in life that help us to reset and maintain that work-life balance.
Over the years, one hobby that has exploded in popularity is fantasy football, where fans draft football players from across the National Football League (NFL) to play on their virtual team against others.
According to the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association, 60 million people across the United States and Canada participate in fantasy sports, with football being the top game of choice by far with 40 million participants.
Fantasy football takes a sport that millions watch every week and combines a social and competitive element that can further enhance the experience. But while it is a welcome distraction from every day stressors, fantasy football can be too much of a good thing at times.
“The intent of activities like fantasy football is to provide a shared, interactive friendly competition,” says Jerry Gold, PhD, administrative director of behavioral health at Scripps. “It can become a problem when it becomes seriously competitive and competes with work and other day-to-day activities and begins to affect relationships with your spouse and others.”
Many leagues have money tied into them too, and that financial component can create additional stress, especially with the unpredictability of an NFL season.
So how do you know if you’ve crossed the line? Dr. Gold says you can look for similar signs and symptoms to other addictive behaviors, such as an internet addiction or addiction to your mobile device. These symptoms include:
- Mood Swings
- Feelings of guilt
Heightened levels of stress can also begin to take a toll physically. Headaches, insomnia or weight gain/loss are just a few of the symptoms you might experience.
“When it consumes you and you get angry, it becomes a problem just like any other addictive behavior,” Dr. Gold notes. “Fantasy football is designed for entertainment purposes. There’s nothing wrong with playing to win but be aware of how much time and energy you’re devoting to it.”