There exists a fine line between what some call "real sports" and the virtual phenomenon that is fantasy sports.
But they are deeply connected.
Each stem from a passion, a love; for the game, the friends, the fans...the money. Each satisfy the hungriest sport's soul, and enslave us by moments of greatness; trapping us by addiction.
And yet they have such different backgrounds.
One game uses brains, the other, brawn. One uses a computer; an object regarded as holy by its owners. The other uses practice fields and treat them as the battlefield before the war.
Sports have been around since forever; 77 B.C. to be exact, when the first ever recorded sports event, The Olympics were held. The world of fantasy meanwhile has only been around since the 1950s, when someone named Wilfred Winkenbach came up with the concept of fantasy sports.
But while one activity has us actually playing the sport we love, the other one has us following the players who play the sport. And this discrepancy about how one is better than the other has remained a debate widely talked about within the sporting community.
ESPN Personality Stephen A. Smith had this to say about fantasy sports:
"...I've always thought that a lot of these guys (and 96m percent of them are guys) are nerds desperately in need of more sociable leisure-time activities."
Clearly, Smith thinks fantasy sports have no place among the "upper echelon of society" since fantasy sports are for what he calls "nerds".
But he is of course a NBA Analyst as well, and has much respect for the "real" side of sports, as opposed to the "made up" type.
But is Stephen A right? Famous people such as: Snoop Dog, Regina King, Lil Wayne, and countless amounts of professional athletes take part in the hobby.
After talking with Comedian Guy Torry, (who is an avid fantasy footballer), Smith's views did not change.
"All those hours people spend as Monday-morning QBs, quick to second-guess, acting like they're the ones playing, coaching or trading? Sorry, it still seems nerdy to me."
Consider Smith only a "reality sports fan" -sigh-.
Tight End Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins has a different approach than most. He not only plays sports professionally, but as well participates in a fantasy league.
People have mixed reactions about his involvement on both accounts. On one hand, some say that it is wrong, wrong because he has the potential to fix outcomes in real life, only to benefit his fantasy teams.
But that notion is ridiculous. What's more important to you? Millions of dollars, or a made-up team worth only bragging rights?
The other type of person, (myself included) believe that nothing is wrong with what Cooley is doing. Let the man do whatever he wants to have fun.
Just because he plays sports doesn't mean that he can't participate in a game where he and his teammates are involved.
Consider Cooley the opposite of Smith; someone who enjoys playing fantasy as much as they enjoy the game itself.
In this day in age, over 30 million people both in the United States and in Canada participate in fantasy sports, compared to the much smaller number who participate professionally.
Everyone can play fantasy sports, only a select few possess the ability to play at the sports' highest level.
But the fact remains that both resemble an outlet. An outlet for energy and excitement, passion and addiction, and (while no one wants to think of these aspects): failure and disappointment.
I liken fantasy and reality to vines. They will always grow outwards; go their own separate way, attract their different bugs. But they will always remain one within the other, rooting from the same origin, stemming from the same seed.
Sports fuel fantasy, and fantasy fuels sports. They cannot thrive without one another.