Fantasy Movie League - Your Summer Fantasy Fix

As the Premier League season wound down and the glory of your NFL Fantasy Football performance from December faded, I took a leap to fill the gap left behind this Summer with a Fantasy Movie League. The old mantra that  "If you build it, he will come" from Field of Dreams has long been replaced with "If you rank it, he will make it into a fantasy sport" and praise be the lord that it is so!

Few fans of NFL Fantasy Football will be surprised to hear that the Talented Mr. Roto himself, ESPN's Senior Fantasy Analyst (and former Hollywood Script Writer) Matthew Berry is a driving force behind this relatively new fantasy "sport" too. And it shows. Fantasy Movie League brings out the usual comeptiveness and indeed downright madness of every other fantasy sport that we've grown to know and love. Above all else, it's terribly good fun and as we know, that's something that often gets lost in the heat of the fantasy battle but is still the glue that keeps us all together.

So what's the deal with Fantasy Movie League? Well it's pretty straight forward. You pick 8 summer movie blockbusters each week to show in your virtual cinema from within your allotted budget and then accumulate box office money based on US box office figures for that weekend. You can change your movies around each week: add the latest blockbuster or hold on to that ever-so-reliable Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 in your cinema listing; the choice is yours! And yes, that last sentence may very well be the only one in existence which contains the words "blockbuster", "reliable" and "Paul Blart Mall Cop 2". Pretty awesome, right!? The League I mean,  not Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 obviously.

One of the difficulties in setting up Fantasy Leagues of any genre amongst my Irish friends is finding a sport that everyone is interested in. A few of my buddies play Fantasy Premier League, a handful play Fantasy Baseball and then there's The Waffle League, my 9 year old NFL Fantasy League which often gets a mention right here on The Sports Waffle. But there's few opportunities to bring new people into leagues - let's face it, you either love soccer or NFL or you don't, it's pretty simple. That's the beauty of Fantasy Movie League, I don't know anyone out there who doesn't watch movies. You also don't need to be a sports fanatic to play - it's probably the most inclusive fantasy sport available right now! You don't even need to like movies, in fact a healthy dislike of movies is encouraged just as long as you can guess accurately as to what the cool kids will be going to see in the US this weekend. If you can do that, then you've got half a chance of being a Fantasy Champion. 

Currently I'm into Week 7 of "The Passion of St. Tibulus" Summer Movie League, named in honour of the critically acclaimed movie featured in brilliant Irish sitcom, Fr. Ted. To protect the innocent, I'll refrain from naming the participants in this movie league; but it's fair to say, there's some work colleagues, friends and even my wife. Some are regular fantasy players, some have never played before but I can tell you that seven weeks into Fantasy Movie League, pretty much everyone is hooked.

I'm currently sitting in 5th place in our 12 cinema league - having held on tightly to 3rd spot for a number of weeks before being royally fu*ked over by 'Dope", an award winning movie that bombed at the Box Office while on multiple screens at my "Sharknado Memorial Cineplex". I haven't seen "Dope" and already I hate it. Thank you Fantasy Movie League.

As I mentioned a little earlier, the concept really is quite simple but it is trickier than you think if you want to be the top dog in your league. You've got 8 screens to fill and 1000 BUX (Fantasy Movie League currency) to spend on filling your screens each week. Movies are priced differently each week - e.g. Jurrasic World's opening week cost was over 850 BUX and left little cash to spend on filling your other screens.

There's also two tactical situations you can utilise, the first being you don't have to fill all 8 screens if money is tight but you do lose two million dollars per empty screen in your overall score and the second being the abilty to play the same movie on multiple screens as long as you come within budget while doing so. There's method and indeed madness in equal proportions in each of these tactics. With either tactic though, you'll probably live to fight another day. That is of course unless you forget to set your cinema line-up on the weekend with the largest opening weekend box office takings of all time. As promised, we won't mention any names on that one when it comes to our league but it might begin with a 'T" and end with a "om". He's suffered enough already and with a few weeks left to play, I shouldn't jinx my own luck just yet.

It's not too late to play with your own friends. Set a league up today by heading on over to www.fantasymovieleague.com and get playing for the remaining 8 weeks of the season. You won't regret it, or at least, not half as much as you likely regret paying to see Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 (will he ever stop!).

In signing off, here's a little reminder as to why "The Passion of Saint Tibulus" had been the most talked about movie until Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 came along. (yep, I went there, again!)

Best of luck with your league and if it gets even more of you out to the movies this summer then that can only be a good thing too!

Finally, just to be straight, I can confirm that despite numerous mentions this blog post was not sponsored in any way by Kevin James, who is in fact, genuinely one of the good guys depsite being a NY Jets fan! Go see his movies!

K.

CFL - the other "other football"

Tonight a major multi-million dollar football league will kick off. The only thing is the football isn’t soccer or indeed the american version and the dollars on this occasion will be Canadian.

If you live on this side of the Atlantic in Europe, you may not be aware that it even exists let alone is almost ready to begin a new season. The Canadian Football League or CFL for short is a gridiron based professional sports league in Canada which, for want of a better explanation, is similar to the NFL or American Football that the majority of European readers may already be familiar with. There are quite a few differences however in both codes of football both on and off the pitch.

For starters the Canadian Football League starts much earlier than its American counterpart with the league beginning in June and running through to its showpiece final, the Grey Cup, usually held in November time. 2015 will see the 103rd Grey Cup Final.

The league in terms of number of teams is also very different from the NFL. The CFL currently features 9 teams in 9 different Canadian cities across two divisions. The Eastern Division includes the Toronto Argonauts, Montreal Alouettes, Hamilton Tigers and Ottawa RedBlacks. While the Western Division includes the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, BC Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

There are a number of noticeable visual differences between the NFL & CFL. One easy observation is the size of the field which is longer and wider than an NFL field at 110 yards long x 65 yards wide. The number of players on the field for each team is 12 compared to 11 in the NFL and the game ball in CFL features two prominent wide white stripes while the NFL features none.

There’s also the differences in the rules of the game which are plentiful and sometimes extremely subtle. The most obvious of which is that in the CFL a team only gets 3 downs (compared to 4 in the NFL) to move the ball ten yards before gaining another set of downs.

So what about the coming season? The Calgary Stampeders won the Grey Cup last season and are listed on the betting site I viewed in preparation for this piece as 10/3 favourites. They defeated the Hamilton Tiger Cats to the title last year and the runners up begin the season as only 5th favourites to make it back to the CFL's showpiece event this November in Manitoba. UK fans catching a Hamilton game should recognise a familiar face as Ti-Cats Special Teams Co-Ordinator, Jeff Reinebold, a regular and mighty fine analyst who features on Sky Sports' NFL coverage.

The Toronto Argonauts, who I have had the privilege to see on more than one occasion at the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto, are listed as 8-1 having last won the title somewhat un-expectantly in their home city in the 100th Grey Cup Final. The fans in T.O. will naturally be hopeful of another under the radar repeat run to the final this year however it's the Saskatchewan Roughriders that many believe will be the team to watch this season.  They're certainly a dangerous and effective outfit if star quarterback Darian Durant stays fit and he could be the man to lead them all the way to Grey Cup glory this season. It's all to play for in Canada and it is always worth keeping an eye on.

Live TV coverage of the CFL will be available in the UK & Ireland on BT Sport/ESPN this summer. Your next best bet after that is to head over to the league website itself to catch extensive highlights  at http://www.cfl.ca

For those of you who enjoy the NFL but are looking for something other than training camps and contract hold outs to fill the void until September comes around again, the CFL is literally the next best thing. Unless of course you are Canadian and then it is of course, the best thing.

K.

80s Football, Transfer News, Teletext and Keyboard Warriors

 

"We have gone from a vertical society to a horizontal society where everybody has an opinion about every decision you make, everybody has an opinion on the internet straight away." Arsene Wenger

It's often said that Football's changed significantly in modern times due to advent of satellite TV. We're exposed to more football year on year. From Premier League to Scottish League to La Liga to Bundesliga to Serie A to Champions League to MLS to Internationals to Women's Super League to Futsal to Beach Football and domestically here in Ireland the Airtricity League: in truth, there's hardly been a week night in the last ten years when you couldn't catch a game of some description live on TV.

Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a good thing or a bad thing. I fall between two stools on this one. As a football fanatic, coach & now writer the accessibility of live football is a dream come true. On the other hand, as an old romantic, I do miss the the days of giving my full undivided attention to BBC's Match of Day on a Saturday night & ITV's The Big Match on a Sunday afternoon. There was no dual screening while watching a game in those days and flicking the channel during a boring 0-0 draw was never an option. If the game was poor, you stuck with it, even if only because you were holding tight for the Darts extravaganza that was Bullseye afterwards!

But it's not just TV that's contributed to a huge change to our experience of the Beautiful Game. I'm old enough to have spent hour after hour waiting on pages to change on Aertel, Ceefax or even more likely, Oracle on ITV to see the latest transfer news via the rotating ClubCall advertisement! If you are aged under 25, that probably makes no sense at all to you. Trust me, it was riveting most days but it particularly reached fever pitch when you had to endure a Littlewoods Cup 3rd round replay that went to penalties on teletext! Heart stopping stuff.

Nowadays we have the wonders of the World Wide Web and Twitter to feast upon for transfer news. In the early days of my football related internet adventures, it was certainly more of a charm than a chore. But as time has slipped by, the plethora of football related blogs have become a bit like your favourite 90's nightclub that boasted a smart casual dress sense and over 23s policy but then changed overnight to tracksuits, trainers and Under 18s! It's probably grossly unfair on the acne afflicted youth of today to label it as 'spotty teenager syndrome' but it's a good analogy. Quite frankly, it's becoming more and more difficult to seek out the intelligent football blogger from the fame hungry transfer whores. And that's not even including the professional outlets and their increasing churnalism and click baiting - the scourge of the modern sports world.

I've long been a viewer (& admirer) of the web based news aggregate service 'NewsNow' for my football transfer stories but in recent seasons I'm getting more and more frustrated with the quality (or lack of) of the feeds available. It's as much about trying to separate the bullsh*t bloggers from the bullsh*t stories these days and that's never a good thing. That's not necessarily Newsnow's fault though as the advent of multiuser blogs mean content can vary in quality from post to post.

And then along came Twitter. I love the micro-blogging site and spend a lot of time on it both professionally and personally and it too, is a great source for football related news & gossip once you can separate the footballing knowledgable folk from the footballing insane! Not as easy as sounds.

In some ways, I'm eternally grateful that I'm not a full-time journalist. Those guys really get a tough time on the aul Twitter machine and not always without warrant to be fair. Mention that you think Steven Gerrard would have been better off at Chelsea or Olivier Giroud is a top striker and you'll get a world of abuse. It's a bit like the aforementioned good nightclub gone bad but with the addition of karaoke machine instead of a DJ. Entertaining and painful in equally hostile measures. Modern football everyone!

Perhaps the real problem is just laziness on my part. I do miss the days of looking for semi-accurate football info and finding it relatively quickly without having to ponder if the ramblings of the litter of anonymous keyboard warriors I stumble across are worth reading or not. Perhaps I just miss the simple life of the 80s/90s football when men where men, shorts were short and rumours were factual (yes, that was intentional).

We've a lot to the thankful to technology for in modern football: HD TV, ticketless turnstiles, live streaming. Technology has brought some hi-tech and dare I say sexy advancements to the game I love. It's just that 'Transfer News' isn't really one of them.

K.