For those of us whose interests don’t include the NFL, there is an alternative: The NPFL (National Political Fantasy League). The rules are simple: Each player selects 15 men and women from the world of politics.

The football season is upon us, and all across America, fans have gotten together to select their fantasy teams. This gives football fans whose hometown teams are in a dry spell something to look forward to on Sundays.

This is all well and good if you’re partial to football and wasting a lot of time checking carries and yardage online at work. But for those of us whose interests don’t include the NFL, there is an alternative: The NPFL (National Political Fantasy League).

The rules are simple: Each player selects 15 men and women from the world of politics. Each time one of their players appears in a story in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, they earn a point. Having their name appear in a headline earns five points. Turning up in a photo is worth three points, and any mention in an editorial garners a big 10 points.

The politicos can be either elected or appointed; Cabinet members and Supreme Court justices are among those regularly drafted. They can be national, international or state-level office holders. They can even be out of office. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for example, was highly sought after during the most recent draft.

Drafts usually take place in early December, once the election dust has settled, and the “season” runs the following calendar year.

This year’s standings are particularly tight. History professor Radcliffe Dartmouth’s team, Ship of State, is in the lead, thanks largely to his top choice of President Obama. (The president — no matter who — is invariably the first draft selection, and the pre-draft angling can be spirited. Dartmouth, for instance, traded two second-round picks, an undisclosed amount of cash and his tenure to trucker Mac Piedmont to secure the top selection. What Piedmont is going to do with tenure, we have no idea.)

Stockbroker Sharon Prophett’s team, Right Makes Might, is in second, thanks to all-stars John Boehner and Harry Reid, and her sleeper picks of Michele Bachmann (who thought she’d believe her own press to the point of jumping into the presidential race?) and Rick Perry, a selection Prophett had been regularly teased for making. Until last weekend.

Your humble apprentice pundit is sitting in third, courtesy of an eclectic lineup that includes Palin, former President George W. Bush, Joe Biden and Arnold Schwarzenegger. My team, the Pocket Vetoes, has faced its share of controversy, however. Apparently, the rules are unclear regarding political status, and a challenge has been filed to the effect that Schwarzenegger, who left office in January, should now be classified as an entertainer. Palin, too. Stay tuned.

But the team we really feel sorry for is the Filibusters, run by amateur bowler Brunswick Splittowsky. He loaded his team with potential Republican presidential candidates — not a bad move as the jockeying would make for plenty of headlines this year. Unfortunately, his choices — Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, even normally dependable Pat Buchanan — all declined to run. He correctly picked Newt Gingrich, but a lot of good that’s done him.

Such is the beauty of political fantasy leagues. Each year brings new issues, new faces, new opportunities. Some politicians are in, others are out.
One presidential campaign it’s John McCain, the next it’s ... Andrew Cuomo?

Kevin Frisch’s column, Funny Thing ..., appears each Sunday in the Canandaigua Daily Messenger in New York. Contact him at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257, or via email at kfrisch@messengerpostmedia.com.