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By the time late July rolls around, sports fans like me are ready to breathe a sigh of relief.

It's been 172 days since the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a little help from the refs, won Super Bowl XL. Since then, we've had baseball. But unless you root for one of the roughly five teams that has a real shot at winning the World Series each year, it's hard to get excited about the interminable, 162-game season. (Note to Bud Selig: When the payroll disparity between your highest and lowest spending teams is $185 million, something is broken.) Don't get me wrong: Baseball is a great sport, just not a great league.

So when late July rolls around, I feel a surge of new life. Finally, football training camps are opening around the country. The new season will kick off soon. More importantly, so will the chase for the company Fantasy Football League trophy.

Fantasy football is the Holy Grail of fantasy sports and, for many office denizens like myself, the highlight of every work year. (I can admit that openly because my boss is in the same league, pursuing the same Christianity Today International FFL trophy.)

Fantasy football got its start, according to Fantasy Football Index, in 1962, when a part owner of the Oakland Raiders, Wilfred Winkenbach, created the game with two Oakland Tribune reporters during a road-game trip to New York. They developed a system for choosing skill players around the league, scoring their achievements each game, and allowing fantasy teams to compete head-to-head. They called their league the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL).

The premier player in GOPPPL's first season was George Blanda, who threw 27 TD passes, kicked 11 field goals (out of 26 attempts) and completed 48 extra-point ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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July 2006

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