Bad Luck and the DFS Player - A Match Made in Heaven

I love playing daily fantasy sports. And when I play daily fantasy sports I particularly like it when I win. Winning is wonderful. It provides you with a rush of adrenaline, a feeling of supremacy and occasionally, a sum of money so great that you can go out and buy a new three piece sectional. Unfortunately for DFS players, winning is not the norm. Losing is the norm and losing hurts.

Losing hurts because of the hope and expectation we place in the decisions we make. The level of expectation is directly related to the amount of time, study and effort we put in to assembling teams and when things go awry, as they often do, we feel cheated and let down. ‘How did Player A not score the amount of points I was certain he would’? ‘How did Player B go 2-13 from the field’? ‘How did Player C only play 22 minutes’?

These are the questions we ask ourselves on a regular basis and the answer often comes down to bad luck. Well it doesn’t, it comes down to the infinite amount of variables involved in attempting to predict sporting outcomes, but in our moments of rage, as we see that ‘questionable’ tag change to ‘will not return’ it seems obvious that our own sense of luck has played a part.

It’s what following sports does to you. It turns you into an irrational, raving lunatic and the obsession with perceived bad luck is always part of it. I have yet to see a tweet or read a comment by someone that celebrated the extraordinary amount of good luck they’ve been having lately. An all caps post in the Rotogrinders forum about an overtime game rescuing a player’s cash games is a thing of rare beauty. Messages bemoaning that same game are commonplace.

Even before the invention of fantasy games, following sports teams always involved a layer of illusion. You support your team with all the patriotic pride you can muster and cheer them on from the stands, but outside of running onto a playing field and tackling a rival player, your influence is limited. Sure, buying merchandise and season tickets helps the club and you can even become part owner of some sporting franchises through purchasing shares, but there’s still a disconnect. A disconnect that we would not tolerate in any other walk of life. You would not invest so much time, money and effort in your family life if your wife and kids accepted all your support and then said ‘k thanks for all your help, go watch from the stands, we got this from here’. But that’s what we do with our teams, both real and fantasy.

So when we invest in something that we lie awake at night worrying about (be that our family or fantasy team) and they let us down, we don’t usually jump at the chance to shoulder the responsibility ourselves. You don’t want to admit to your wife it was you who left the milk out all night, just as much as you don’t want to admit to the Rotogrinders forum that you thought you’d be cute and fade Russell Westbrook when Kevin Durant was out. We pass that on to some version of bad luck, or other such strange universal activities, and why wouldn’t we? When it comes to believing in something as unquantifiable as luck, sports fans are usually first in line.

A quick look at the Wikipedia page for sports related curses tells us all we need to know. Sports fans have been using bad luck in various iterations as a way to rationalize poor performances for years. As DFS players who all probably grew up as sports fans, we’ve been programmed to do this. It’s in our history and our social fabric, irrespective of which country you grew up in. If you’re American you have any number of crazy curses to latch on to, the most famous probably being Curse of the Bambino, if you’re Irish you can wallow in the tragic tale of the curse of Biddy Early, the Portuguese have the curse of Bela Guttman, the Mexicans have the Comizzo curse and Kevin Durant has Lil B.

So how do we overcome this history of curses and bad luck that follow us around as sports fans? We stop believing we have deity like powers, stop believing in our own ability to dictate what happens on a court or playing field thousands of miles away and, most importantly, stop believing that if you click a button beside a certain players name he is then destined to slip on a banana skin while observing a black cat walking under a ladder wearing a jersey with the number 13 on it.

Now go select your players for this ridiculous 13 (because of course) game slate, sit in your lucky spot on the couch, cross your fingers and remember you have precisely zero control over what happens.

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