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Local Man Struggling to Keep up With Football, Dragon, and Rings

Too much on TV right now.

By T. Kent Jones

WOODSTOCK, IL – As the 2022 football season gets underway, Derrick Cooperman faces an impossible dilemma.

In one part of his life, the 29-year-old technical analyst is a devout Illini, Bears, and Woodstock Blue Streaks football fan. In the other, he is the warrior-elf Daraximil, cosplay defender of the Woodland Realm.

Cooperman and Daraximil’s two worlds have never clashed, until now.

Inconceivably, two huge new fantasy television series, “House of the Dragon,” the mega-budget follow-up to “Game of Thrones” and “The Rings of Power,” a massive expansion of the “Lord of the Rings” universe, both debuted this fall, eating into his compulsory football watching time.

End of the Bench sat down with Cooperman, dressed in gold sparkle tights, a green loden cape, a long blonde wig, and a Bears helmet to discuss how he’s handling being a mega-fan of all three this fall.

“I’m miserable,” he sighed, banging his broadsword on the table. “And not just the usual ‘rooting for the Bears and the Illini’ miserable.”

The new must-see TV shows are forcing Cooperman to make agonizing choices.

“Tell me how I am supposed to binge “HOD,” with its hours of mandatory supplemental reading, AND hate watching Ohio State vs. Notre Dame at the same time?”

“Then they throw a new “LOTR” at me, which could take weeks to memorize all the new characters and place names, both in English and in Elvish,” he added. “It’s like keeping track of the transfer portal.”

The new shows “completely disrupt cosplay season,” which normally runs from the Winter Solstice through First Foliage with virtually no football overlap except the Pro Bowl, which no one considers actual football anyway.

“One season at a time was manageable,” he says. “But now I’m going to need new costumes for all three. That’s an extra hour every day just picking out throwback jerseys and foam fingers and longbows and glitter.”

Cooperman fears the toll of all this manhood could be compromising his mental health.

“My therapist told me this is too many unattainable perversions of masculinity for me to emulate at once. She says that I shouldn’t try to maintain more than two fictional personae at a time. Maybe she’s right. Three Derrick Coopermans is two too many.”

Cooperman concedes that this is an embarrassment of riches. “All my favorite passions are happening at the same time. I should be grateful,” he said, taking off his Bears helmet and replacing it with a garland of baby’s breath.

“Still, I don’t want to short-change any of them. I have a reputation to uphold, both in my fantasy league and in Middle-Earth. But when am I supposed to sleep, or eat, or more importantly, masturbate?”

Still, all hope is not lost. 

“And it came to pass that I, Daraximil, find myself in an epic struggle for the hearts of men and elves. I shall need one ring to rule them all.”

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