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Living a fantasy life

During the past year, I was dragged into the world of fantasy sports. Look at the picture on the opposite side of this page. He's the one that took me there.

It started in October when someone needed another manager for a basketball league. I hadn't watched the NBA for years, but I figured I knew all the players from their college days. So why not give it a try?

I picked mostly former Duke players because that's my college team. It's a good thing they churn out excellent basketball proteges. They - along with a few trades from Jason - propelled me to a second place finish.

Then came golf. Some friends in the sports department at The Augusta Chronicle always have a league where participants pick four golfers and receive points according to how well those golfers do.

Participating in a fantasy golf league with a bunch of sports writers from Augusta - home of the Masters - is scary. I'm currently ranked eighth out of 16; not too bad. But my next two steps into the fantasy sports world were even worse.

I used to watch NASCAR when I was in high school. I even wrote an English term paper in 11th grade on my future career as a stock car driver. We see how that one turned out.

But as I grew older, I couldn't resist the nap during Sunday's races. I would see the start and vow not to miss a minute of action. Then, with about 30 laps to go, I would wake up in a puddle of drool and clean off the pillow just in time for the checkered flag.

Since I couldn't stay awake, I stopped watching. That was years ago. So when Jason joined a fantasy NASCAR league, I decided to dust off the old racing knowledge and give it a shot. I'm in third place of seven participants now.

Last week, though, was the start of the most terrifying fantasy sports prospect yet. While visiting Ireland two years ago, I fell in love with one of their national sports. It's called Hurling, and no, even though it's from Ireland it has nothing to do with drinking.

It's kind of like a cross between soccer, field hockey, football, basketball and baseball. Plus, it lives up to its hype as the fastest field sport in the world. The sad thing is only Irish people know about it.

There's a fantasy website devoted to this unique Irish sport. Of course, I signed up. My knowledge of the players was hazy at best, but I patch worked a team using a fictitious budget.

The most hilarious part was watching Jason choose his team. He picked his team the only way he could, by how cool their names were.

The trouble is he'll probably beat me by 100 points in the end. Because if I've learned one thing, it's that extensive experience doesn't necessarily translate into success.

Web posted on Thursday, June 8, 2006

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