Bonding With The Bogey Boys
Father-son Jewish fantasy football league keeps families close.
Photos by Jerry Zoly nsk
ust before the start of the NFL
season, Spencer Litvin, 11, of
Berkley, overruled his dad, Ken,
to play San Francisco 49er wide receiver
Anquan Boldin over Green Bay WR James
Spencer's intuition paid off. Boldin
caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a
touchdown, earning the Berkley Litvin
team more than 20 points in the Bogey
Boys fantasy football league. Jones couldn't
catch a cold that day. Four weeks later, the
Berkley Litvins still lead the league.
Ken Litvin has been an avid fantasy
football player for 17 years and joined the
Bogey Boys, a Jewish father-son league, as
a way of bonding.
"We both love sports, and it's something
we have in common" Ken said. "He knows
a lot about fantasy football because he has
seen me play it for many years, and it is so
prevalent in the sports world"
Spencer said, "I enjoy my special time
with my dad bonding over sports. I also
enjoy teaching my younger brother Carson
about sports. Hopefully he'll join us next
The Bogey Boys league began two years
ago when some longtime friends and
acquaintances decided to share their love
of the sport with their sons, said co-com-
missioner Randy Labelle. A dozen father-
son teams play for fun and to talk smack.
"It's the kids' team to run; the dads are
supposed to help with advice" said Labelle
of West Bloomfield. "Most of the fathers
have been doing fantasy football for years,
and it's a great way to get the kids involved
in something the dads love so much:'
Labelle helped his son Charlie, 9, with
the draft, but it was Charlie who took New
Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees as a first
pick and New England Patriots QB Tom
Brady as a second pick. Like all the other
fathers and sons, they play catch in the
yard, and Charlie practices running routes.
The roots of fantasy football can be
traced to 1962 when a few people from
the AFEs Oakland Raiders' front office
and sports reporters decided to draft their
own set of players and play them against
each other. It was called the GOPPPL
(Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin
Prognosticators League), and one of the
original participants brought a similar ver-
sion of the league to his Oakland sports
bar, and the concept slowly spread.
It wasn't until CBS launched a free
fantasy football website in 1997 that the
November 14 • 2013
Spencer Litvin, 11, and his father, Kenny, of Berkley watch the Lions game at
Happy's Pizza in West Bloomfield.
"It was much more difficult before the
Internet became popular" Litvin said. "We
had to call in our lineup to the commis-
sioner of the league and he had to keep
score of the matchups himself. We used
USA Today's sports section to add up the
box scores of the games:'
Today, instead of waiting for the box
scores on Monday mornings, league play-
ers have instant access to their picks on
the Internet, their rankings, and in-depth
analysis of the NFL teams and players.
Jay Rubin, 12, of West Bloomfield, is in
three other fantasy football leagues and
is undefeated in two of them after four
weeks, said father Jeff. "Because of fantasy
football, every Sunday, we are glued to the
TV watching NFL Red Zone on the NFL
Network, which shows all of the scoring
plays from every game around the league.
We also get live scoring on our smart-
phones to keep us up to date with the stats
Jay said he attributes his success to vari-
ous sports websites.
"Before the draft, I visited Yahoo, ESPN
and Pro Football Talk and used the infor-
mation to draft our team" he said. "And I
keep up to date with things like injuries,
bye weeks, matchups and waivers through
the same websites."
Scott Shefman of West Bloomfield has
been involved in fantasy football leagues
for nine years. His son Jordan, 12, makes
all the decisions and constantly keeps
track of scores on his smartphone on
Sundays during the NFL season.
"Jordan has played flag football for
many years, and he and my younger son
Dylan like to draw up plays that they can
run against each other on the front lawn,
Shefman said. "Since I can't keep up with
either one of them, I'm designated as 'all-
Sporting events tend to draw them
together as a family for sizable chunks of
time, he said. "We frequently use time to, at
least in part, talk about events taking place
in our lives and various other family mat-
ters. In a strange way, sporting events have,
at times, replaced the dinner table for us as
the venue for holding family conversations"
Scott said he attended Lions, Red
Wings, Tigers, Pistons and University of
Michigan football games with his father.
"Some of my best childhood memories
relate back to those events" he said. "I am
glad that I have the opportunity to attend
games with my children and to participate
in things like fantasy football with them as
well. I hope that they ultimately look back
on these moments with the same fondness
that I do"
Larry Shaevsky of West Bloomfield said
his son Mason, 12, wanted to join the
league because his friends were in it.
They participated in the draft together,
but it's Mason who makes the final deci-
sions of who to play each week.
They throw the pigskin around in the
backyard, "as I enjoyed playing catch
with my dad, Mark Shaevsky, when I was
growing up" Larry said. "Some of the best
memories from my childhood were play-
ing catch with my dad, and I hope Mason
will feel the same way"
Because the Bogey Boys league has
registered picks and keeps track of their
scores on the ESPN website, they have
only gathered together once this season.
"The digital age has changed fantasy
football, some ways good, some bad"
said co-commissioner Eric Lusky of West
Bloomfield, who is the unpaid consultant
of Team Jonah named after his 12-year-old
"general manager" son.
"The league ends on Week 17 of the
regular season because not all teams make
the playoffs. We don't have plans for a
Super Bowl party, but it would probably be