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3:32 PM on 12.03.2008 // Jon Hartley
Why Did I Join a Madden League?: A Cautionary Tale

At the risk of losing the respect of my fellow Dtoiders (at least the four of you who recognize me, as I'm not that active here), I have a startling admission to make. I know it's not wise to say this, and I will get a verbal tongue lashing (or total apathy) in the comments for it, but the overwhelming guilt I feel forces me to do so.

I joined an online Madden league.

That's right. I knowingly forced myself into the cesspool that is the world of online Madden players. I have willingly put myself into a situation where I will be forced to share bandwidth with popped-collar, polo-sporting Frat boys and 4 XL throwback jersey-wearing pseudo-thugs.

I can't say why I did this, although I know in my heart that my intentions are pure. I want to play against other people. I wouldn't say I'm a huge Madden fan, as I've bought probably 5 editions of it ever, but I am a huge football fan, and I do enjoy picking out plays from a huge list of them, and then watching little digitized men carry them out on my television. Let's avoid the whole "yearly roster update" just this once, sports game haters, this is not that post.

So it's true, I have no idea when I actually decided to join a league. But I do know when I realized I had made a big mistake.

See, I went to great lengths to make sure I would avoid the sea of douchebags that are always swimming just below the surface on Xbox Live, occasionally rising up en masse to snag an unsuspecting noob and drag him or her down to the icy depths, where they will be converted and start speaking only in racial slurs and homophobic rants. I did this by joining a "sim league" which is easily explained to even a football laypersons, as it basically means "you play like a real football game, including punting on fourth down, going for field goals, and not running the same 'money play' over and over again."

I thought that these rules would form an insulating layer within which I could hide from them, a sort of electric blanket which would allow me to retain my dignity and keep the bed bugs out of my otherwise harmonious gaming life.

I was wrong.

The moment I realized I was wrong was a day or so after I joined, when I got my first friend request from a league player. When I saw the gamertag, which was latingangsta187, I knew how foolish I'd been.


I guess I'll be playing that one with my headset off.

I don't want to be too presumptuous here, but I will make the assumption that a person who immediately thinks of "latingangsta187" when prompted to pick a gamertag is not someone I want to spend my recreational time talking to.

I don't know what other horrors await me. To tell you the truth, I haven't even looked at the other players' names, but I shudder to think of the possibilities. I'm still trying to rationalize why a latin gangsta is spending time playing Madden online and not, you know, out gangstering things. Or acting. Perhaps Noel Gugliemi has taken all the good parts already, I don't know.

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when a stereotype turns out to be true. I can defend sports games (and the fine folks who play them) all day long, but at the end of the day, I sign up for a "sim" Madden league and still get a friend request from latingangsta187.

Sigh.
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