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Bachelor Goes Buzz

Reality-TV romance turns happy-hour sport

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Decades of friendship among women in the Bachelor Fantasy Football league have lead to intense and fun competition. Participants include Kathleen Manning, Chelsea Hanson, Kristen Byrd, Stephanie Bardwil, Ali Fescenmeyer, Blaire Howard, Muriel Forney, Christine Strake and Whitney Easterling. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Since the pilot episode of ABC’s The Bachelor way back in 2002, loyal audiences have eagerly watched and discussed the show, with its dream dates and exotic locales, and, especially, the rise and fall of their favorite competitors.

The reality-TV show, where 25 women compete to win the attentions of one handsome man, with some women weeded out each week, may inspire its share of derisive jokes. But for those of us willing to ignore the cameras, it’s a modern Cinderella story.

And for some of us, The Bachelor is a sport.

My first year out of college, my friends and I struggled with the sudden stresses of work and lack of constant social interaction. We searched for excuses to get together, but life seemed to always get in the way. We realized that “adults” have to schedule their fun. The one thing we could all agree on was the guilty pleasure of engulfing ourselves in reality television. Plus, it was cheap. This is how our “Bachelor Fantasy Football: The Final Rose Bowl” came to be.

The Bachelor was the perfect excuse for a weekly girls night. For more fun, we made it a competition. A quick Google search brought the concept of the Bachelor Fantasy Football game to our attention. Players picked the women they thought would make it to the end of the 15-week show, “winning” as favorites of the coveted bachelor.

We tweaked the game and came up with our own system. We draft players after watching the first episode; each person chooses five women per team (a “quarterback,” two “active players” and two “bench warmers”). To score points in an episode, your quarterback and active players must complete a task on the score sheet created based on events in previous seasons.

Our first year, six of us played. The score cards filled with ways to get points: sneaking a kiss, sitting in a hot tub, and receiving the coveted final rose of the night. Even the most passive of my friends became addicted to the thrill of leading the scoreboard.

“My fiancé played in so many fantasy [football] leagues. He drove me crazy with constantly reading up about his players and trying to make predictions. Well, he had the last laugh – my first year on the Bachelor Fantasy Football league, I was completely hooked. Reading blogs and recaps, I was desperate to see how my team would fare, and of course I lost horribly,” said Christine Strake, 25, a human resources coordinator and Memorial High School graduate.

The best part was having a place to be every single Monday. It kept us sane on what felt like the longest day of the week. “It forced me to put down my grading, have a glass of wine, and enjoy being around my friends. It was cheap entertainment. Being 24, that is always the best kind,” says Blaire Howard, a Hunters Creek Elementary teacher and Memorial graduate.

I sent out written recaps the day after the show aired. That way, even if life got in the way and you missed, you could feel included. “Knowing that was coming on Tuesday was the perfect brain break. The nicknames [of the women competitors] were always hysterical, and it let me feel like I was there listening to my friends when I had to miss out,” said Kristen Byrd, 24, an HBU graduate student and Stratford High School grad.

Bachelor Fantasy Football quickly grew to 19 friends. And here’s the real news – this season, which starts Jan. 5, featuring stylish farmer Chris Soules as The Bachelor, we’re inviting Buzz readers to get in on the fun.

We’ll explain how it works, and you can form your own leagues and play along with us. Even if you don’t host weekly viewing parties, we think you’ll love the drafting and the competition.

Now I just need a pair of those Cinderella shoes. And maybe a wand.

Join the fun

To kick off The Bachelor season, The Buzz is hosting a drafting and live-viewing party for the first 100 people to sign up Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. at Ciro’s on Bunker Hill, 9755 Katy Fwy. There will be free appetizers, a cocktail and the chance to win door prizes. To register for admission, click here.

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