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Fantasy football + ‘Twilight’ = going viral on TikTok

What started out as a penalty for finishing last in fantasy football turned into a million and a half views on TikTok

Illustration by Alex Cochran

As you might have already heard, I am a TikTok sensation.

It all started when I finished last in the fantasy football league I was invited to join a couple of years ago by my friend and fellow Deseret News columnist Doug Robinson. The league is run by Doug’s son, Preston, the Commish, who writes witty weekly email roundups and everyone likes, unless you happen to finish last, and he (with help from his wife, Jen, who won last year) metes out the punishment for your shameful showing.

My penalty was reading the book “Twilight” and giving a book report on it at the 2021 league draft held at Doug’s place on Tuesday night, Sept. 7. (A year earlier, my son, Eric, a University of Utah grad, finished in the cellar and had to put a “My Blood Type is Y” bumper sticker on his car, which I rather enjoyed.)

So this was my report to my fellow league members:

Here’s my book report on “Twilight,” the reading of which was my consequence for finishing last in the COVID version of Fantasy Football 2020. But first a story about when I was in high school and my twin brother Dee was caught fighting in the parking lot and was suspended from school for a week. Every morning, the alarm would go off, I’d get out of bed, get dressed and look over at my brother still sleeping. I thought, ‘He gets to sleep in and watch game shows on TV and I get to get up and go to school! There is something seriously wrong with this punishment.’

That’s how it was with “Twilight.” While reading it, I found myself feeling sorry for the rest of the league who didn’t finish last and didn’t get to read it. I loved the book. Well, loved might be too big a word, but I enjoyed it a lot. I checked it out of the library right after I had completed my fantasy season, going from first to worst due to massive amounts of bad luck and bad advice, most of it from Brian (Robinson). I couldn’t even prevail in the Toilet Bowl against Collin (Robinson), who pays as much attention to fantasy football as he does to the weather patterns in Ethiopia.

But back to “Twilight.” It’s written by a Latter-day Saint woman (a totally irrelevant bit of trivia thrown in here because this report is supposed to be a page long) named Stephenie Meyer, who lives in Phoenix. My brother-in-law Bill lives in Phoenix and knows her dad; says he’s a good guy. As a writer, Stephenie is no Stephen King, say, or certainly not a Doug Robinson, but she is a darn good storyteller. She had me at “I’d never given much thought to how I would die,” which is the book’s opening line.

Every night for a week I couldn’t wait to check in to see how it was going for Bella and Edward, despite their age difference — she’s 17, he’s 104 — and dietary considerations — she doesn’t like blood; he enjoys it. I rode along with them on their madcap adventures, watched them fall in love, wondered why people at the high school didn’t pay more attention to the vampires, particularly the football coach. Who wouldn’t want a running back who could run a four-second 400? I cried when it ended.

So that’s my report. Count me as one who is not a bit surprised that “Twilight” sold 25 million books, was translated into 26 languages, and was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Call me a true believer. Call me a fan. Call it the only good thing that happened to me in fantasy football last year. Thank you for recommending it, Commish.

Social media entered the picture when my son, Tanner, who is in North Carolina studying for a master’s degree in film at UNC-Wilmington, saw the video of my presentation, edited it, titled it “My Dad Had to Write a Book Report on Twilight” and posted it on TikTok, a kind of hipster/hippie version of YouTube for short attention spans that until a week and a half ago I knew as much about as the weather patterns in Ethiopia.

Here is the link: TikTok Dad

Turns out there are a lot of people out there who look at quirky videos. Turns out that even though “Twilight” was written 16 years ago, there is a thriving Twilight universe. Suddenly I was viraling — 200K views by the end of the first day, 400K by the next morning, 500K (officially viral) within 24 hours, one million by the end of the second day. A week later, the count was approaching 1.5 million. There have been nearly 3,000 comments: “He’s our dad now,” “ I cried too when it ended HEY BESTIE LET’S BE BESTIES TWIHARDS FOREVER,” “I want to start a book club, with me and him, only him,” “This is the greatest tiktok ever and no i’m not being dramatic,” “Is your dad actually George Bush?” (haven’t heard that one in awhile) and my favorite, “Who’s gonna tell him there’s three more books?”

I am in demand. People wonder if I’ll do an audiobook. I’ve been invited to attend the Twilight convention in Forks, Washington, where Bella and Edward met and fell in love.

I’ve written more than a dozen books. I wrote one about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, I wrote a biography of golfing great Billy Casper, a memoir of LaVell Edwards, another one about BYU quarterbacks, histories of both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. In less than two weeks, more people have viewed the report on “Twilight” that I wrote in 30 minutes the day before the draft than all of them combined.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got “New Moon” to read.