Cents and Sensibility Shared Principles of Life, Money and Fantasy Football Mary Dacuma

Before I played Fantasy Football, I thought it was a waste of time. I could not fathom why people would invest so much of their time and emotions promoting a team that doesn’t even exist in real life. Then I actually formed a league with my family and everything changed. I have joined the mob of people who, come Wednesday, September 5 will be glued to ranking charts, projection podcasts and sports bar TV screens until the end of the year.

Without being arrogant, it’s fair to say I do alright in Fantasy Football. This is partially because I really enjoy (read: am mildly obsessed with) the NFL. But it’s also because I’ve realized that I can draw parallels between Fantasy Football and investing that help me strategize and win. As an added bonus, these principles are pretty applicable to other aspects of my life.

So before you roll your eyes at the legions of football fans frantically talking about drafts and setting their lineups, here are a few skills honed in Fantasy Football that apply to your financial decisions and life in general.

  1. Assigning value to your assets – When you determine whether or not to start a player that week, you analyze his history, health and recent performance, as well as what the analysts are projecting. These are the exact same things that you will examine when you trade stocks or purchase real estate. The ability to take in raw data and extrapolate it to make key decisions is imperative to success in finance, Fantasy Football and life in general.
  2. Looking at the big picture –Last year, selecting New Orleans elite QB Drew Brees as your first round draft pick would be a no-brainer. But because of their bounty scandal, the Saints are hard-hit with suspensions, including head coach Sean Peyton. Brees is certainly a great QB choice (and probably always will be), but this might be a year that you pass him up for Tom Brady or Eli Manning. Like an investment, it’s not always about the product. The quality of an investment can fluctuate in relation to the economic climate or state of the industry. When it comes to your financial decisions, or any big life decision, put your options in context.
  3. Managing your emotions – Even Wall Street will warn you that greed makes you do some crazy things. Like when you are so intent on keeping breakout star QB Cam Newton on your bench so nobody can start him that you miss opportunities to pick up players that might actually score you points. (Isn’t that right, little brother?) And I’ll admit that as a die hard USC Trojan, I kept Mark Sanchez on my team for way too long before realizing that it just wasn’t going to work out. Obviously, it’s important to make financial decisions that make you happy. But don’t let your emotions muddy the facts and cause you to invest unwisely.
  4. Maintaining a work-life balance – There was a pivotal moment last season when my boyfriend caught me checking on my team during Sunday Mass. He shook his head in disappointment and I signed up for a 12-step program. Just kidding. But definitely had to take a step back and realize that maybe it wouldn’t kill me to turn my phone off and  go hiking or eat at a restaurant that didn’t carry NFL network. It’s all about balance.
  5. Trusting your instincts – At the 2011 Entrepreneurship Invitational, Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor (who owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the Philadelphia Flyers), said, “Follow your gut if you have an idea; often the reward will be worth the risk.” Sometimes it just comes down to a feeling. Like that time I noticed the 49ers defense making some moves while the Steelers, known for their defensive prowess, just haven’t been cutting it. Against what common sense might dictate, I dropped the Steelers, picked up the 49ers and next thing you know, sportscasters are calling the 49ers one of the elite defensive lines of 2011. I’ve often felt that intuition is God/Nature’s way of proving you are smarter than you think you are. So trust your instincts and see what rewards come your way.

As you can see, Fantasy Football is more than just an exercise in athletic hypotheticals. There’s a lot of thought that goes into determining your draft picks and setting your weekly lineup. And I dare say Fantasy Football makes you a better person. The 2012 Season doesn’t start until next Wednesday. So don’t take my word for it – gather your friends together and start a league today! Your money management acumen will be all the better for it.

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