Fantasy football inspires competition among teachers

Fantasy football inspires competition among teachers

“Teaching,” social studies teacher Daniel Green said, “has to be one of the least competitive occupations on the planet.”

But that did not stop Green from trading barbs with his deskmate, social studies teacher Stephanie Hunt, the week after she lost to him in fantasy football.

Green and Hunt are both participants in the faculty fantasy football league. Started last year by guidance counselor Eric Schiff, the league has 12 participants, two of whom work outside the school.

Competition in fantasy football, said Green, reveals sides of his colleague’s personalities he does not usually see in their working relationship.

“I wouldn’t necessarily see Ms. Hunt’s competitive side or she see mine, but when we’re playing each other, that comes out,” Green said. “It’s just a different part of her personality and it’s just fun to see a different kind of joking, a different kind of playing around, different kinds of discussions and camaraderie that you just don’t see when you’re sharing a lesson plan on India or China.”

According to Hunt, competition in the league is an easy way to relieve stress during the busy workweek in part because it does not take up too much time.

“You don’t have to switch your line-up everyday, like you might have to in other sports, so if I see Mr. Green in the hallway, and maybe I want one of his players, I can say, ‘Hey, how about this trade?’” Hunt said. “We can talk about our curriculum and we can talk about planning, but then we can trash talk with each other.”

The league helps Hunt build more personal relationships not only with colleagues in her own department but also with colleagues in other departments.

“I might not see Mr. Pero or Mr. Putnam that often because they’re in World Language and Math, but we have this common space and this thing that we’re all experiencing together,” Hunt said. “So if I see Mr. Putnam in the Copy Center, we can have that discussion and we can talk about it.”

Math teacher Nick Pero, the current league commissioner, said he agreed with Hunt’s sentiment.

“It’s nice to reach out interdepartmentally versus intra-departmentally, if you will, because we work with our department all day every year, whereas I don’t see a lot of the other teachers minus faculty meetings once a month,” Pero said.

Competition in the league, he said, forces him and his colleagues into lasting contact.

“It’s just like any sporting league that you join. You’re competing against the same people for an entire football season, which is four months or so, so you develop relationships with these people,” Pero said. “It’s nice to give some jabs here and there when you have a good week or a bad week.”

Since everyone plays from a position of equal advantage, Pero said that fantasy football is an especially good medium through which to build more meaningful relationships with colleagues.

“Everyone is going through the same decision-making process, so you have that relatability. And a lot of this, fantasy football, you can do all the research you want, but a lot of it is just luck,” Pero said. “It allows you to try to make all of the best decisions you can and then you lose just because your players didn’t have a good week, but that’s out of your hands, so it gives you a medium to commiserate with a little bit.”

The fantasy football league, according to Pero, creates a better work environment by allowing teachers to build relationships around an interest not dominated by the demands of their occupation.

“Being in a place where you’re recognized and in a place where you can recognize other people is comforting,” Pero said. “And any way that you can facilitate that, I think, is important.”

Emma Nash can be contacted at [email protected]