This past weekend, I participated in my fantasy football league’s draft. My league is composed of some of the coolest cats on the planet and the competition has only gotten more fierce each year that we play.
Draft time is truly a special hour plus of time in which decisions are made that impact the entire season. The decision making. The research beforehand. The trash talk during. All add up to a fantastic time of strategy making.
As I participated this year in our draft it reminded me of something seemingly unrelated – Columbia House tape clubs. For those who grew up in a time when you physically owned copies of music (pre-MP3 era), it was difficult to resist the Columbia House marketing. If I memory serves me correctly, there was this huge sheet of music selections. This sheet was categorized by genre and included, by the standards of that time, an ungodly amount of options.
And the best part was you could get (cue an absurd amount) of tapes/albums/CDs for ONE PENNY!!! What? I could get the Spin Doctors, Digital Underground, and REM delivered to my doorstep? (Don’t judge the musical tastes.)
Now back in the day it took these tapes 4-6 weeks to arrive to your house so there was no instant gratification, but you could anticipate the arrival of your new music collection for weeks!
But I also remember the anxiety of the shopping experience as well. I would stress about my selections, and the sheer number of choices engendered an unexpected stress. How did I know that I made the best decision? Would I be tired of the album even before it arrived? What if there was a new artist or even a new genre of music that released between my purchase date and actual receiving date of the music? I seriously lost sleep over my choices.
The recalling of Columbia House tape club reminded me of a book that I read a few years back – The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.
In the book, Schwartz describes how, for some people, more choices is actually unhealthy (think of the cereal aisle in the supermarket). He insists that there is a real anxiety for some in decision making that last well beyond the actual purchase. Schwartz calls these people “maximizers.” Now this doesn’t play out in every selection process. Instead there are particular purchases where the paradox of choice anxiety manifests. For instance, in expensive purchases like electronics, cars, or houses.
Or when one commits to “clubs” where future purchases are required and costs are incurred like the Columbia House Tape Club. Or, to bring it back to fantasy football, when one makes selections that have long term effects on competitive games.
Now fantasy football is just for fun. I know that. My league is a non-monetary buy in league. There’s no moneys at stake.
Yet I still find myself reviewing my selections and asking anxious questions. There were so many selections that I passed on. How do I know that I made the best selection possible? (I don’t). I went WR heavy because of PPR formatting. All the expert talk revolves around the decline of the RB position. What if they’re wrong? What if a player Teddy Bridgewaters or Ray Rices? (Yes, I just made both of them verbs). How do I know that I maximized my selections? And it was over so fast. That beeping on-the-clock noise of the ESPN draft app…oh the pain!!!
This is why I refer to my post-draft as “celeblues.” (And yes, I made that word up, too). I truly celebrate fantasy football and revel in drafting. I am confident that A.J. Green, Lamar Miller, Amari Cooper, Tom Brady, and Jordan Reed were/are good selections. But I also have a “paradox of choice” post-draft blues that leads to questioning myself and selections. Thus celeblues (feel free to use this word, but give credit where credit is due).
This truly is a paradox to internalize and I’m not sure everyone can truly understand this dynamic. I’m sure that some will say “Get over it. It’s a fantasy game. Nothing’s at stake.” But I also know surely there are some with the same feelings toward fantasy football drafts and the waiting for the season to approach?
I don’t anticipate not playing fantasy football in the future. I’m committed. The leagues allows me to connect with friends across the states in fun platform. The rewards are worth the anxiety.
So, in sum, here’s to the annual celeblues of fantasy football. Good luck…to me.