Game Time

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This may be a stretch but, in a way, isn’t life sometimes a big fantasy football league draft?

We have options, a lot of them if we’re lucky, and we make choices. We gamble that one option is better than another given what we know.  We look how combinations of choices may work together, at what adversaries and obstacles lie ahead, at how to defend against them. We look at the budget and how many bites at the apple we’re going to get, and we  make decisions accordingly.

It’s guessing plus data plus gut instinct plus optimism (or pessimism).  And ultimately, no matter the most-well considered rational choices nor the most time-tested lucky charms or lucky socks – in life and fantasy football – the best laid plans can be upended by a twist of fate: injury, personal problems,  bad mojo. And suddenly you’ve no recourse but “There’s always next season.”

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Besides sharing a capriciousness, fantasy football and real life share a dynamic – that of competition. Draft night, one person is up against other people and the goal, ultimately, is to get what you want and try to keep those other people from getting what they want.  And this is all well and good because it’s a game, fun. Getting while keeping others from getting  is kind of the point.

In certain real-life contexts, there’s obviously also places where competition fits in. Be better than another business in your market or person vying for the same job.  Some people will win– and some lose because of it. If everyone plays with basic decency on an even playing field, fine. That’s life.

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Unfortunately for some people, many people, dog-eat-dog isn’t just a theme recurring in certain realms of life. It’s a way of life.  Every resource is finite so everything is Darwinian competition.  Everyday, in other words, you’re Dr. Zhivago and the peasants are coming for your candelabras.

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In this case, fear informs every move you make. How you vote, conduct business, treat other people- it’s always the result of a calculus of self-protection, of believing you must defeat the opponent pretty much at any cost. Why? Because you can’t both win. 

This means safeguarding what you already have from everybody else. It means grabbing up whatever else you can and trying to leave the competition without any advantages.  It means actively trying to keep things skewed in your favor.

The football analogy would perhaps be a championship team with a billion dollar payroll arguing it’s unfair to give a small market, last-place finisher first pick in the draft next season. Why would anyone support a system that helps other teams catch up? Why would anyone support anything that helps other teams at all…because you can’t both win.

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The answer to that “why”  question is: because you are part of a league.

If you’re allowed to build on your success while struggling teams have no fair, reasonable way to get even close to catching you– your franchise wins. You get a return on your investment.  But, lack of parity is bad for any sport. Predictability of winners brings down fan interest and ratings and ad revenue.  The reputation of the game starts to lose its luster as it seems everything is rigged every year in favor of the already-have-teams.  Your team, fans, employees, investors don’t lose.  But the league loses revenue, talent, growth opportunities, integrity, and whatever its original entertainment values was.

The league loses. And eventually, this will impact you, too.  Because what’s a team without a league?

When a person  sees everyone as a predator, as a would-be home invader, and when he comes to believe he can only survive by domination and/or elimination of all “others” —  his community will suffer. He will, too. Fear is an isolator. No one can survive alone.

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We’re  humans. We’re not wild animal predator and prey. We’re social beings capable of empathy and compassion. We are human beings capable of resisting our evolutionary instinct towards “same group bias”  – or at  least capable of expanding our idea of who qualifies as “the same.”

We don’t need to be afraid, we need to be smart.  Some resources are limited, but human ingenuity isn’t one of them. Where there’s a will, there is a way.  We can let our internal ‘better angels’ – and we all have them-  demand of us that we conjure up that will. And we then we will find a way. We will create solutions for each other and for ourselves in even the most dire of crises. And there seems to be no shortage of those these days.

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An old folk tale tells of a heaven and hell where all people have their arms tied behind their backs and can only eat with spoons. In hell, the people suffer in eternal starvation, each unable to bring any food to his mouth. Not so in heaven. There, everyone is in the same tied-up state dependent on spoons, but, yet, they’re all well fed. How is this possible? Well, because, explains the tale, in heaven, the people feed each other.

We’ve all got spoons, people. Let’s use ’em.

Thanks for reading,

Beth

ACTION LINKS:

Migrant crises: Doctors Without Borders

An ol’ local fave: Rosie’s Place / Boston

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