FAST Blast: Fantasy sports and the art of trust (redux)

The major league baseball season has heated up like the spring weather here in New England after a frigid winter. The Yankees and Mets — the two teams I rooted for as I grew up in Jersey — are in first place in the AL East and NL East, which means order has been restored to the baseball universe … in the New York metropolitan area, anyway.

Yet for some baseball fans, their concern is not with actual teams and standings, but rather with fantasy teams and standings — yes, the world of fantasy baseball.

In a previous FAST Blast, at the beginning of the NFL season, I explored the relationship between fantasy sports and trust — and the connection of trust to everyday life, whether you consider yourself religious or irreligious. Let’s explore further.

Following are five excerpts from Internet media coverage of fantasy sports (in bold), along with some musings about how the realm of fantasy sports dovetails with the realm of faith, worldviews and real life.

(If you’re unfamiliar with fantasy sports, see below for a capsule explanation.)

Fantasy Focus: Working The Wire
Eric Karabell discusses the waiver wire and whether to trust the recent hot streak of Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick.

Fantasy: Bengals vs. Eagles Preview
Christopher Harris discusses who to trust in Bengals vs. Eagles.

There it is: trust. Trust and faith are, of course, essentially synonymous. And it seems that some consider trust and faith to be the domain (mainly) of organized religion.

After attending a forum at which a Christian minister and a leading atheist debated the reliability of the Bible, I spoke with the atheist and noted that while he didn’t believe the Bible, he still had faith.

When he disagreed, I asked him: How can we know who won the first World Series in 1903? We weren’t there, so we must take someone’s word for it. Given that example, the atheist agreed that he’d have to take someone’s word for it. Apparently, based on his atheism, he disagreed that he had faith, but he agreed that he would need to take someone’s word about the first World Series.

As far as I can see, “taking someone’s word” for something is the same as putting faith in what that person has said. This observation, it seems to me, is on the level of 10+10=20.

Since we all must trust, the key questions become: Who will we trust? And who is worth trusting?

Most faiths and worldviews have appealing aspects, and I believe there are elements of truth in each one. As we investigate their various claims, whose “hot streak” — to use the fantasy phrase from above — will we trust?

In the second excerpt above, the analyst identifies which players in the Bengals-Eagles game to trust in a fantasy lineup.

Safe to say, a more essential question is: Who will we trust in the proverbial game of real life?

Fantasy Now: Reds’ offense
Eric Karabell analyzes who is worth the risk in the Reds’ lineup this season.

Fantasy Football Now: Week 14
Cary Chow, Christopher Harris and Stephania Bell discuss high-risk, high-reward players for Week 14.

High-risk, high-reward players — that’s us, isn’t it?

That’s the high-stakes reality of the human conundrum. According to the Christian worldview, when God created human beings He engaged in an undeniably high-risk, high-reward enterprise.

The risk: If humans chose to stiff-arm God’s love and split the unauthorized atom, they would become radioactive, poisoning themselves and creation with the blight of death.

The reward: When humans, made in God’s image, choose to give themselves to Him in love and use their power for good, God experiences the warmth and joy and exuberant pleasure that human relationships exhibit at their absolute best.

A Christian worldview sees people as eternal beings, which only ups both the risk and the reward. And while some theists profess universal salvation, orthodox Christian belief ups the ante further — not only considering people eternal but also concluding that an ultimate either/or confronts us all: either choose to be with God and forever enjoy the stunning goodness that comes from Him alone, or choose to be apart from God and forever suffer the drastic deprivations His absence entails.

Talk about a high-risk, high-reward circumstance.

Some question or dismiss the idea of hell, seeing it as unfair or inhumane, counter to God’s love.

Others grant that it’s an apt punishment for certain horrors — such as the premeditated murder of a loved one, the Nazi abomination or a remorseless serial killer. Here’s one sentiment in response to such heinous crimes: A death sentence isn’t an adequate punishment — and neither is hell. Some simply say: I hope you rot in hell. And others would counter that forgiveness is the only way to find freedom in the face of such monstrosity. Nelson Mandela comes to mind as someone who lived such a philosophy.

A “Law & Order” episode depicts the execution by lethal injection of a convicted felon who committed a brutal rape and murder. “Today the state of New York got its revenge,” says Lt. Anita Van Buren at the end of the episode. “It’s not enough, and it’s too much.”

At face value, perhaps this sounds nonsensical: “It’s not enough, and it’s too much.” Huh?

Yet at a gut and heart level, this simple sentence resonates. There seems to be no appropriate answer to the problem of evil and man’s inhumanity to man. If God pardons a repentant Nazi war criminal and gives him access to paradise, some will vehemently object. If God punishes a cold-blooded murderer and denies him access to paradise, some will decry God’s lack of compassion.

It seems God can’t win.

One take on the “hell is fitting for murderers” mindset is that, hey, most of us aren’t murderers, so we’re good to go vis a vis the afterlife. In the Christian worldview, however, all humans share in the crime against humanity and divinity that is known as the unjust execution of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Man and the Son of God. Thus, we all are guilty of murder — though at first glance we may not believe we fit the profile.

Still, I tend to struggle with this. I identify with the side of the equation that wrestles with how a loving God could see hell as a solution.

Of course, if the atheist is right and there is no God, the risk/reward factor for each person is limited to this life and then is swallowed up by nothingness.

If the pantheist is right, the risk/reward factor is limited to this life — and the next, and the next, and the next — since we get multiple chances via reincarnation.

If the polytheist is right, the risk/reward factor is determined by which god is ultimately calling the shots.

But the philosophy with the most extreme risk/reward reality is a theistic worldview with the either/or of heaven and hell. Islam and Christianity are two such worldviews — and, of course, they offer drastically different solutions to the human predicament.

In Cam We Trust
Even with his limited NFL experience, Cam Newton is quickly gaining loyalty from fantasy players everywhere.

So we’re back to trust.

And the above discussion begs some further questions: Whatever our knee-jerk feelings are about the Christian faith’s stance on eternity, the more vital issue is this: Is that stance accurate? To boil it down — which worldview is true?

Naturally, that’s the worldview worth trusting and buying into.

To rephrase: Fantasy owners have trusted quarterback Cam Newton. Which real-life QB will you and I trust?

Fantasy Sports in a Nutshell
Fantasy sports give fans the opportunity to be the owner and general manager of a team.

Fantasy team owners draft actual professional players to form their teams in fantasy leagues, and the actual stats of those players from each game count toward the fantasy team’s score in head-to-head matchups with other fantasy owners. During the season, owners can make trades with each other, release players who underperform or become injured, and pick up players who are available.

Fantasy sports writers aim to give fantasy owners advice about which players to release or keep on the bench, and which ones to acquire or start for a given game.

© Bruce William Deckert 2015

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2 Responses to “FAST Blast: Fantasy sports and the art of trust (redux)”

  1. wichtiger Ort Says:

    Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have book-marked it for later!


  2. bwdeckert Says:

    Thanks — glad you found the blog … happy holidays!


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