I got the alert on my phone: “It’s your pick! Join the live draft now.”
That, my friends, can only mean one thing. It’s time for fantasy football! I love fantasy football. I started playing my freshman year of high school and I haven’t missed a season yet. I’ve found that it’s deepened my appreciation for football in general, given me other people to (somewhat) cheer for outside my Green Bay Packers players and made Sundays go by very quickly.
In fact, last year I was in five leagues. Yes, five. If you’re thinking, “Jon, that’s way too many,” you’d be right. So this year, I made the hard decision to cut it down to four. Yeah, I know. I may have a problem.
But there’s just something about coming home from church on a Sunday, turning on the NFL Redzone channel for “seven hours of commercial-free football” (thanks, Scott Hanson), and letting the world just kinda slip away for the afternoon (and evening). If you’re reading this, you probably agree to some extent.
This isn’t the easiest thing for me to write. I have defended – and will continue to defend – playing fantasy football. But there’s something inherent in playing that I’ve found I have to guard against. It’s the striving for perfection – and the expectation that others have to be perfect – that I’ve found is intrinsically tied to the “sport” that can sometimes put me in a bad place.
If you play at all, or even if you’re around someone who plays, you know what I mean. It comes out especially when a player on your “team” underperforms or makes a mistake. Maybe they drop a pass, throw an interception, fumble the ball, or have a dud of a day in general. Since their stats equate to points for you, you get angry and upset. I know I do.
“Why can’t you just catch the ball!?”
“Are you serious?! Throw it to Kelce!”
“I could make that throw! What were you thinking?!”
The truth is that we want and expect perfection when “playing” fantasy football. We need our players to make every throw, catch every ball, score every touchdown. And when they don’t, we get upset.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like how we treat people around us, though? Maybe it’s your spouse, your best friend or (gulp) your children.
That last one is especially true for me. Just the other day I caught myself getting upset and frustrated with my five-year-old son for not doing something exactly right and exactly how I thought he should be doing it. I wanted perfection.
“What were you thinking?!” I said the same words I yell at the TV screen on Sundays at times. But guess what: he’s five. He’s learning. He’s going to make mistakes.
And you know what: so are you. See, I think we often expect perfection – perfect stats – out of others while simultaneously holding ourselves to a lower standard. We give ourselves grace, but we don’t offer it.
This isn’t anything new. In the Bible, Jesus addressed this very phenomenon. In the book of Luke, chapter six, verse 42, he says, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’”
Yikes. So many times, I’ve failed my son and my daughter as a parent. They’ve deserved better. And yet, I can get so caught up in their simple mistakes, demanding perfection but failing to see how I’m failing.
Friends, those around us can’t be perfect. I’m not just making a generalization there. They literally can’t be perfect. It’s impossible. That’s why we need Jesus. We need to stop treating others that way, then.
Does that mean we can’t hope people will get better or be better? NO WAY! But it’s doing so in the context of humility and understanding that you need to get better, too, instead of putting on this cloak of self-righteousness.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine confessed that he had made a big mistake and failed in an area of his life that was a struggle for him. I didn’t beat him over the head. I affirmed that bringing it to the light was good, talked to him about the practical steps he can take to overcome that temptation next time and then encouraged him. And then I said this: “I’m going to need you to do the same thing for me in the future, not if but when I make a mistake.”
I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. I’m just giving you an example of when I actually got it right. There are plenty of times I’ve gotten it wrong. But that’s the type of attitude we need to take. Not demanding perfection but calling people to something better while simultaneously realizing we could be in the exact same position tomorrow.
So, when you’re playing fantasy football this year, I want you to use it as a reminder that you’re imperfect, just like those on your team not only are but will be. They’re going to fail. You’re going to fail. The most important thing to remember is that you have a choice when that happens: Get angry or get humbled.
And if you’ve seen where I’ve placed the last few years in my league, you’d know that I have to be very humble. I’m right there with you.