You donâ€™t know how to dance. You donâ€™t know how to sing. You donâ€™t know how to make espresso shrimp flambĂ©ed with Sambuca, roasted hazelnut and peanut paste, especially under the pressure of a Quickfire challenge with Padma breathing down your neck. But you do know one thing: fantasy football. Which is great because now, finally, there is a way for you to gain that elusive level of reality show fame using your fake football guile and wits, without having to suffer the indignity of attempting to krunk while Mary Murphy silently judges you, angrily bearing those â€śI could chew through a telephone poleâ€ť teeth of hers.
Introducing The Next Great Fantasy Football Writer. Itâ€™s Twitterâ€™s first reality competition (of sorts) that combines all the best elements of life: fantasy football, writing, fantasy football, ridicule, indiscriminate, petty judging, and, well, fantasy football. Better yet, itâ€™s a way for someone out there â€“ you? — to finally get a shot at a fantasy football column-writing gigs* and cold hard cash in the form of 300 crisp dollar bills for the upcoming NFL season, this on the heels of Chetâ€™s recent post So You Want To Be A Fantasy Football Writer?
(*Aside from the one-time prize money of $300, said writing gigs will be unpaid. But theyâ€™ll be on not one but two sites â€“ Razzball and FanDuel Insider — that lots and lots of people read. And FanDuel will even put $20 in your account each and every week during the regular season, and into the playoffs, with which you can compete in their awesome daily fantasy games. Weâ€™re no mathmagicians, but thatâ€™s about an additional $400 of prize money. But hey, if you only want money, go sell your tainted sperm on the Estonian black market. This is mainly about giving you the opportunity to share your work with a wider audience, not to mention the swollen ego and public adulation thatâ€™ll come with kicking your fellow fantasy football writersâ€™ asses.)
Hereâ€™s how it works: starting right here, right now, we will announce and tweet the official topic of the week, and then on Mondays thereafter, the two primary judges â€“ Razzballâ€™s Chet Gresham (@Chetrazzball) and â€śCommitted: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkieâ€ť author/former NY Times.com & Rotoworld fantasy sports writer Mark St. Amant (@MarkStAmant) — will Tweet the official topic of the week.
This week’s topic is:Â Five Locks and Five Crocks
You have two weeks — until 5pm EDT Friday, July 22nd — to pen your first article of no more than 1,500 words that attacks the topic however you wish. (But, ideally, itâ€™ll combine fantasy football know-how with good, old-fashioned humor. More on that below.) And no ringers allowed. If you’ve been compensated for writing about fake sports before, you are excluded from the proceedings.
There are five rounds with five different topics. Due Dates: July 22, Aug 5th, Aug 19th, Sept 2nd, and Sept 9th.
At that point, the two main judges (Chet and Mark, who are sort of the Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell of this whole shebang; unless Chet wants to be J-Lo?), along with some guest luminaries from the fantasy football writing world — Rotoworldâ€™s Evan Silva, Sara â€śFantasy Football Librarianâ€ť Holladay, Jim â€śGOAheadScore.comâ€ť Day, Sigmund “Football Guy” Bloom, and others — will then evaluate all submissions over the weekend based on four general criteria:
- Originality. Everythingâ€™s been done. Sorry. Just the way it is. So, your job is to find an original twist or angle on the weekâ€™s topic. For example, the weekly player â€śstock watchâ€ť is a tried-and-true column subject, so think of a new/funny/exciting/original way to present the risers and fallers as training camps wear on.
- Football/Fantasy Acumen. No oneâ€™s going to take you seriously if you donâ€™t know your shit. Period. Not that you have to make the guys at Football Outsiders look like mouth-breathers or anything, but an impressive level of NFL and fantasy knowledge is a must. In short, for the love of Sonny Jurgensen, donâ€™t mix up your Mannings. And please know which Adrian Peterson plays for the Vikings and which one plays forâ€¦.wait, does the other AP still play for the Bears?
- Humor. There are enough stat-crunching nerdfest columns out there. So what helps a FF writer stand out from the pack is his or her ability to bring the big time funny along with the smarts. Make us laugh â€“ I mean genuinely laugh in that â€śDamn, I wish Iâ€™d thought of thatâ€ť kinda way â€“ and youâ€™ll have a nice head start. Bore us to tears with too much DVOA or DYAR, and weâ€™ll track you down and stone you to death. Not the good, Kenny Britt kinda stoning, either. The bad kind. With actual stones.
- Grammar. Yes, grammar. In this day of texting and tweeting, basic English grammar — the kind that separates us from the apes, and the French — has been kicked to the curb. And it infuriates me (Mark). So, if you canâ€™t differentiate between there/their/theyâ€™re, you might as well not even bother. Again, call me the Simon Cowell of the judgesâ€™ panel, but Iâ€™ll be a royal a-hole when it comes to basic writing skills. Because I donâ€™t care if your submissions prove that youâ€™re a mythical combination of F. Scott Fitzgerald, David Halberstam and Jon Stewart: if you have even one sentence that reads, â€śYour gonna regret taking MJD in the first round,â€ť Iâ€™ll instantly categorize you as a toothless hillbilly. Be warned.
Anywho, after the judges compare notes, weâ€™ll choose a weekly winner. And the writer with the most weekly wins/best won-loss record between now and the first week in September will be crowned the Next Great Fantasy Football Writer, and be subsequently sprayed with cyber-champagne.
More titillating than that, however, the winner also hauls in:
â€˘ Three hundred bucks. American. Not exactly â€śTop Chefâ€ť money, we realize. But (A) weâ€™re not sponsored by the GladÂ® family of products, and (B) weâ€™re donating the prize money out of our own rather shallow pockets. So letâ€™s not complain, shall we? But more than the money, youâ€™ll also winâ€¦.
â€˘ A column-writing gig at Razzball and FanDuel Insider for the whole 2011-2012 season. Lots of people read Razzball and FanDuel. And you have to be good to write for both. So, the fact that youâ€™ll now be writing for them means that (A) lots of people will be reading your stuff and (B) conceivably, youâ€™re pretty damn good. And while Iâ€™m sure your relatives and dudes in your league love your weekly email musings or Blogspot posts, but you need and deserve a larger arena. This grand prize is that arena. Oh, and again, FanDuel will kindly deposit $20 every week into your personal account, which adds up over 20-plus weeks of NFL action.
â€˘ The fawning admiration of the Twittersphere and fantasy sports community at large. That, friends, is priceless.
Send all first submissions, along with a short bio of yourself/your background/your writing aspirations to:
Mark St. Amant: Mark is the author of two sports books, Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie — the top-selling fantasy football book of all-time — and Just Kick It: Tales of an Underdog, Over-Age, Out-of-Place Semi-Pro Football Player, chronicling his unforgettable season as placekicker for an inner-city Boston semi-pro football team. Mark was also the first fantasy writer brought aboard the New York Times.comâ€™s â€śFifth Downâ€ť NFL blog and wrote the popular â€śMan-Crush Indexâ€ť column for Rotoworld football and baseball. He has appeared on ESPN, ESPN Classic, in ESPN the Magazine, and on NPR’s “Only a Game” with Bill Littlefield, and his writing has also appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Salon.com and the Sunday New York Times. He lives in Boulder, CO, with his wife and the two human children he heroically and almost singlehandedly spawned.
Chet Gresham: You, the faithful Razzball reader know him as Doc, and he is too awesome to translate all of his accomplishments into words.
Sara Holladay: Sara launched Fantasy Football Librarian to create one place for fantasy fans to find the info they need to succeed. She has also been conducting an accuracy analysis of the experts’ rankings since 2007 with support from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, and writes posts for The New York Times’ Fifth Down blog and the Bruno Boys. @FFLibrarian
Jim Day: In 2009 Jim started the Talking Trash and Twitter Roundtable Podcasts. They have both been running since, and have morphed into one 2-hour show that is a part of the Sports Geeks Radio network (sportsgeeksradio.com). In 2010 he joined FantasyPros911.com as a writer and a weekly segment guest on their Sirius Radio show and also guest hosted on 3 other FF podcasts. In 2011 he started www.goaheadscore.com and twitterfantasyfootball.com. He has been a member of the FSWA since 2005 and has been on their Hall of Fame Selection Committee for the last 2 years. @FantasyTaz
Sigmund Bloom:Â Sigmund Bloom is a dormant attorney, active stay-at-home dad, and overactive fantasy football pontificater. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Kim, son, Miles, and cat/role model, Archie. You can find his work at Footballguys.com, on the podcast “The Audible” and on Twitter @SigmundBloom.