Fantasy Football Zen: Non-attachment

I want to apologize in advance, not for using a catchy title and a picture of an attractive woman in yoga pants to capture your attention, but because it’s my unfortunate duty to tell you that fantasy football is nothing more than a completely random, statistically neutral game of chance.  It’s as mechanical as a roulette wheel, a church raffle, or a Power Ball drawing.

Fantasy Football Zen: Non-attachment

“The mental factor of desire accompanies the perception of an attractive object.”

Unlike you and me, fantasy football has no feelings.

If you play and lose, don’t expect sympathy.

“Nobody cares about your fantasy team except you.”
Chris Wesseling

Fantasy football is gambling, and luck plays a huge role in it.

Since my only purpose here is to help you win, we won’t even consider whether fantasy football is fair or unfair – I want to help you beat our admittedly imperfect game just as it is.

Everything is true just as it is:
Why dislike it? Why hate it?Zen Proverb

The transient nature of fantasy football makes it insanely frustrating.  The best teams and the best players often lose – we all must accept that reality.

Our only option is to shrug off our losses, correct our mistakes, and continue to play our best – even when it seems like the fantasy gods are out to destroy us.

Years of experience will eventually teach us that our greatest battle is with ourselves.

The Ego-less State

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” – Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

You da man!

Fantasy football is a terrible foundation for defining our sense of self-worth.  If we’re too serious about the game, we’re not just playing for money; we’re literally gambling with our emotional stability.

“You must not be astonished at anything that comes up…Accept it all calmly, as if you were a mere spectator, uninterested, and were observing a process for which you need not feel responsible…The result, in the end, is perfect stillness.”
Eugen Herrigel, The Method of Zen

Fantasy football is the ultimate battle of the mind.

It calls for a knowledge of math, psychology, strategy, tactics, and self-discipline.

With the exception of caring enough to focus and play well (and the fun or social aspects of fantasy football) our emotions have no place in the actual playing of the game itself.

The biggest mistake we can make is letting our happiness be determined by the results of our fake football teams.

In fact, I’ll take this notion a step further and say that emotional attachment to your fantasy football team is the greatest fabricator of illusions in the world.

Everything in Fantasy Football is Suffering

“There is no joy, only anxiety, only pain, only disappointment. When I win a fantasy game, I’m only happy not to lose. When I lose, I’m crushed.” – C.D. Carter, When Fantasy Football Becomes an Addiction

Enjoyment is to pleasure as suffering is to pain.

Buddhists believe they’re both spiritual reactions to attachment.

Essentially they perceive suffering to be “an attitudinal or volitional response of the soul to certain actual or potential information inputs – a response of rejection, of wishing or trying to avoid or get rid of certain psychologically unpalatable [outcomes].”

In fantasy football suffering causes us to express our disappointment through self-pity, and our enjoyment through our opponent’s demise.  The opposite of both these reactions is the attitude of contentment.

Non-attachment is the idea of removing pleasant or painful feelings from any enjoyment or suffering.  It’s not emotional paralysis – you’re not renouncing your every need and desire.  If I told you to do that, you’d probably have to quit playing fantasy sports all together!

The goal is to rid your life of unnecessary unhappiness so that you can focus on making more logical decisions as a fantasy football owner.

Practicing non-attachment consists of being calm, cool, and collected – not frozen or repressed.  In other words it’s achieving a calmness or Zen like mindset, that enables you to play your best regardless of the outcome.

What is Zen?

The word Zen literally means awakening – awareness; to be awake in the present.

Achieving fantasy football zen means letting go of your ego and developing a detached, unemotional approach to the game.Fantasy Football Zen

According to the doctrines of Buddhism, non-attachment gives you the much-needed space to think logically and awakens your ahmkara – or the part of your consciousness that is self-aware and deals with wants and desires.

Philosophically, fantasy football and the teachings of Zen Buddhism are vastly different – at least on the surface.

Zen tenets want us to release self-will and desire.  Fantasy football does not cultivate such compassion, it rewards players who act selfishly and willfully.

Fantasy football Zen allows you find a balance between two of the game’s most powerful emotional forces – desire and hatred.

“[Zen] is a belief in the middle path, the ordinary way, neither being passive nor trying overly hard to dominate.  It rejects these two extremes because it is in synch with, and moves with the world.  It advocates a kind of harmony and balance.”
Larry W. Philips, Zen and the Art of Poker
My Mantra

No matter how well my fantasy football teams does, I will accept the fact that I must eventually lose and experience some level of pain.  But, as the saying goes – “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Namaste and thanks for reading!

For more tips on non-attachment, check out this link to Lori Deschene’s Letting Go of Attachment, from A to Zen

T.RoweAbout the Author:  Travis Rowe is a self-proclaimed fantasy football guru whose work has been featured on  If you need a boost of confidence or just enjoy learning from other people’s mistakes, check out – 7 Reasons Why I  Still Suck at Fantasy Football