The Wisdom of Fantasy Football by Sue Belanger

Some would clearly wonder what I was thinking when I placed “wisdom” in the same title as “fantasy football”. What does one have to do with the other? For me, wisdom comes from reflecting on and learning from my experiences. For Aristotle, wisdom was about making good choices, like how to act in a difficult situation, and how to be a loyal friend. Wisdom guides our thinking and behaviors, leading us to happiness and flourishing. We shouldn’t underestimate the unexpected situations and places, like fantasy football, that can teach us how to be better people, and in many ways, better leaders. 

I started playing fantasy football over 15 years ago as a challenge to learn the game. Prior to understanding what was happening on the gridiron, I would ask questions, usually at the worst times. So, I learned the game, built successful fantasy teams, won a few league titles, lost more than I won, and I’m now in a three-generation league that gives the winner bragging rights, and keeps us connected as a family.  

So here are my thoughts about how fantasy football and leadership can inform one another… 

  1. Plan ahead. Building a team takes consideration and preparation. Research and data can help make informed decisions, especially in a draft.   
  2. Trust your team. While they may not have worked together for a long time, trust that each person on your team knows their role and will come together to reach the goals and get it done.
  3. Recognize each person’s talent. Those with the least experience may be your best option to succeed. Each team member deserves a chance to shine – even if seen as an underdog.
  4. Place your teammates in the right situations to help them succeed. This is especially true if you have an option to place stronger team members in challenging situations – against an aggressive defense. The right person can overcome many obstacles.
  5. Know you’re in it for the long haul. Observe, assess, and make decisions based on the entire season. The team comes together in time. Be patient. 
  6. Check in regularly with your team. There’s much you can learn by checking-in. It’s also important to know which players are all-in – think bye-weeks. 
  7. Don’t wait to grab that talent. Many potentially great team members are lost by waiting too long on an available candidate. 
  8. Be attentive to how team leaders treat one another. Smack talk can be misperceived leading to hard feelings. Team interactions should always be respectful and fun. 
  9. Diversify. Looking to one team for your players can leave you struggling for points. Think about when TB has a bad day. 
  10. Don’t declare success until all the data is in. A projected win can change significantly during a Monday night game. 
  11. Share your knowledge and skills. Much of the fun in fantasy football is watching the youngest owners learn the game, test the strategies, and feel the exhilaration of the win. Encourage knowledge sharing. 
  12. Learn from your mistakes. Making poor decisions and learning from them keeps you humble.  
  13. Know when to step down and leave it to the next leader. It’s important to know when to pass the leadership reins to the next league commissioner/generation. 

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