Fantasy Football Is Distracting My Son From The Virginia Shooting

For the first time I am co-managing a fantasy football team with my son.

Last season, his contribution was a list of possible team names. Beyond that, he lost interest because fantasy football is nerdy and rife with boring statistics that would turn off any 6-year-old with a social life.

Now that he's 7, he's ready to get into the weeds with me. For the last week, we've had nightly draft prep sessions. I've explained the rules, and he even completed a hand-written depth chart for draft night:

Depth Chart

We've had some differences regarding strategy. "Robert Woods is the best wide receiver in the NFL," he insisted.

"He's actually not," I said in my parental/fantasy team co-owner tone. "In fact he's the 195th overall pick, according to cbssports.com's ADP. That means Average Draft Position. Dave Richard doesn't even have him ranked in his top 200."

"But he's in my NFL sticker book on the Buffalo Bills."

"Number 1, that doesn't make him a quality fantasy player. And number 2, your book also has stickers of NFL Rush Zone cartoons. They'd score us more points than Robert Woods. "

We were on the same page, however when it came to our team name: The Sharters, the name my son chose without hesitation because real men and boys shart.

Our Actual Team Logo

Our Actual Team Logo

Our draft was last night, but unfortunately my co-conspirator couldn't draft with me because it was past his bedtime. I promised him I'd show him the results first thing in the morning.

Our timing could not have been better.

While we reviewed our team roster, Bryce Williams/Vester Lee Flanagan II murdered Alison Parker and Adam Ward on live television. Shortly after, the worldwide media grabbed the horrific footage of the local Roanoke, Virginia newscast and plastered it everywhere imaginable for all of humanity to see.

I didn't learn about the shooting until later because I was reassuring my son that C.J. Anderson, though not a fantasy football household name, would pan out to be a stud running back for us this season.

As upsetting as this execution is--that a sacked disgruntled employee, inspired by recent mass shootings, could so premeditatedly and brutally end the lives of two innocents--I am more disgusted by the irresponsible behavior of the media at large.

Why oh why do you have to include the video and images of the shooting, CNN, Yahoo, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, MSNBC, Huffington Post, The New York Times et al? Are traffic and hits that important? Are the facts not enough?

Shame on you for sensationalizing the deaths of the victims.

Shame on you for helping this go viral like a cat meme for all to see, including kids.

Shame on your indiscretion.

Shame on you for reaching a new low beyond the depths of your already established floor.

Shame on you for your warnings that "what you're about to see may disturb you", for they are exponentially more disingenuous than Harrah's "Gambling problem? Call (insert sponsored preventative hotline), Bacardi's "Drink responsibly" and AT&T's "Don't text and drive."

Shame on you.

We non-members of the media are not inculpable either. We've allowed this video to trickle down to us, and we've tried to scoop each other on social media. "So tragic and senseless!!!!! :( " we pontificate on Twitter and Facebook with the video embedded in our tweets and on our walls.

So shame on us, too.

It used to be this kind of footage was available only in the elusive form of snuff videos like Faces of Death. Now it hits us in the face no matter our age or how connected we are to our smartphones, tablets and televisions.

Columbine, Jonesboro, Blacksburg, Tuscon, Aurora, Boston, Newtown, Chattanooga, Roanoke.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, Seung-Hui Cho, Jared Lee Loughner, James Holmes,  Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Mohammad Youssduf Adbulazeer, Bryce Williams/Vester Lee Flanagan II.

There are so many more. We are shaken, and we are desensitized.

In our house, we've long since disabled Internet browsing on our son's iPad and parent-locked certain channels on the T.V. But he'll see this latest video eventually. It's so accessible, how could he not? So he'll watch it on someone's device and descend down the rabbit hole of links to other killings provided by the website they've landed on.

What terrifies me most is not that he'll be traumatized, but that he won't be. We'll do our best to address each act of violence while not dignifying them.

In the meantime, we'll keep it light. We'll try with all our energy to protect him and preserve his innocence.

He and I have a fantasy football league to win.

 

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    I am a vitamin D-deficient former Floridian--who, despite the spring...er...extended winter--loves Chicago. I contradicted convention (and common sense) by moving FROM the beach to the Midwest, but Lou Malnati's and any Italian beef sandwich reinforce that I made the right decision. I also got a wife and two sons out of it, and I would do anything for my family, except miss a Miami Hurricanes football game. This is my take on fatherhood. You can contact me at david.telisman@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

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