I fell asleep the other night watching the Cowboys and Vikings game and ESPN projected I had a 65% chance of winning my weekly fantasy football matchup. It was a good sleep. But as you know from playing fantasy football, the fantasy gods can screw you over by morning.
Playing Fantasy Football Can Be a Punch To Your Gut
The odds had flipped to 9%. Amari Cooper crushed my dreams late in the 4th quarter. Then it hit me. Hard. Like it has approximately 63.7 other times in my 15 years of playing fantasy football. A cold, wet blanket of despair draped to my spirit, one that I knew would leave me inconsolable for a day or two. Yes, this sounds dramatic for a 54-year-old man, I admit, but I pour my heart into it, and on these Monday mornings, I am faced with how silly it must really be for a grown man’s emotions to rise and fall on a football game. After all, this is not life, it is fantasy. And through the years I have vowed many times over that this season would be my last.
It’s More Than Just a Game
But then, amidst my despair, a tinge of insight broke through the darkness.
While it may seem juvenile to be so emotionally charged by playing a game like fantasy football and it’s easier to avoid the pain by avoiding the game, is life worth living if we’re steering away from everything that can bring grief? I’ve had about 120 other pretty fantastic Monday mornings. I think we often fall into a mental trap of refusing to care too much about anything (or anyone) because of the inherent downside risks. So we remain lukewarm, on the sidelines, where it is safe, but also void of passion, joy, and the thrill of the chase.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” The game of fantasy football certainly provides the player with many opportunities to practice perseverance.
What Fantasy Football Can Teach Us
Playing fantasy football is a silly, microcosmic, almost metaphorical example of truly important things in life that should captivate and motivate us to action and risks. We each have one shot, approximately 2,365,200,000 seconds before the clock ticks down to 0, and we can play it safe or get out there and love, serve, chase our dreams, help others reach theirs, and jump out of airplanes (just because we can).
I think I’ll keep playing fantasy football. The losses will still come and be painful, but that makes the wins so much sweeter. I’m also learning important things about life that I never imagined fantasy football could teach me.
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