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No More Tilting
A vow to be more positive on football Sunday's.
I wanted to write this post before the NFL Season, but I was so busy with work I didn’t have the chance to. The idea of this post is that I will no longer “tilt” the results of fantasy football and sports betting for the upcoming season (please hold your laughter).
Most people reading this are probably familiar with what I do for work, but for those that aren’t, here’s some context:
I work for a fantasy sports/sports betting website, and also participate heavily in wagering on those activities personally. There’s a lot of pressure professionally and personally each weekend of the NFL season for the results to align with the advice I am giving and the bets I am making.
I spend each Sunday morning in a hectic panic trying to make sure our site’s projections are updated and everything associated with them (advice, tools, etc.) are putting our subscribers in the best spot to win, all while managing my own high stakes fantasy sports teams.
Then, once kickoff happens, I turn towards tracking *everything*, which means for 6.5 straight hours I am glued to the play by play of several games at once, hoping, wishing that something I have no control over will go the way I want it to.
It’s not healthy for a few reasons, some of which are obvious and others a bit more subtle. On the obvious front, I’m not getting enough physical activity, ignoring my family, and have way too high of a heart rate/adrenaline all day long, making it difficult to recover and to sleep well at night.
But this post is about one of the more subtle reasons it’s not healthy: tilting. For those not familiar with what “tilt” is, it’s a term originated in the poker world that generally means a player is angry and aggravated by results and thus likely to make poor decisions if they continue to play. The fantasy/betting community has morphed the term to mostly mean, well, getting mad over anything that is not going your way.
Did one of your players get hurt?
Did you lose a bet on the last play of the game?
Now, I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t tilt at all. In some ways, tilting is part of the fun, a way to process what’s happening, and a shared experience with friends. Getting upset, to a reasonable degree, about winning/losing money or pure rooting interests going against you is perfectly rational.
I have a close friend, and we share a camaraderie around tilting and have quite frankly, developed a superhuman type skill set associated with the task. We’ve turned tilting into an art form. We don’t just lament the obvious things that go poorly, we search and dig and create logic chains to show how insanely unlucky we got (and how lucky we could have been)! We can show anyone not only that they were very unlucky, but just how unlucky they were and why it was so incredibly unlucky.
Again, in some ways this is cathartic, and we are what I’d call “wrestling mad”. In the same way that WWE wrestling is fake, our anger here is mostly manufactured. Especially in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) tournaments, where your median expectation on any given week is to lose a lot more than you put in, it’d be hard to enjoy (in a sick and twisted way) the day without tilting.
But I fear, for me personally, it’s gone too far.. And I also fear the subconscious effects that it has on me. Even if I tell myself tilting is all in good fun, it’s hard to believe that reacting to every negative outcome, that is completely out of my control, for 6.5 hours is healthy. Not to mention the more general tilt after the day has concluded.
In the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, the author talks about happiness as a choice. In a specific example, Achor draws the distinction between how two people react to a sunny day, with one person commenting on it being a nice day and the other lamenting the heat. That might seem like an innocuous difference, but how we interpret things has an effect on our happiness.
There’s sort of two elements at play, and I’m rehashing this a bit from memory, so please forgive me if I don’t get it quite right.
First of all, happiness is ultimately based on our perception of reality. That’s not to say objectively bad or good things don’t happen and that we shouldn’t feel emotions as a result. It is to say that if we’re constantly trying to label things as good as bad, that is going to affect our perception and our happiness. If we try to find the bright side in things and alter our perception to see opportunities not obstacles, it has a positive effect.
Additionally, the weather is something outside of our control (much like what human beings do on a football field is), and focusing on whether it is good or bad at all is a way for us to “give up our control of happiness to the external world.”
Secondly, and this is most applicable to my vow to stop tilting, you start to train your subconscious mind. If you are always searching for the negative, your brain is going to learn to find negativity everywhere. And believe me, I am often actively searching for the TILT on an NFL Sunday; it’s not passive.
During Week 1 of the NFL Season, this past Sunday, I gave reducing my tilt a half hearted effort. If anything, it reaffirmed my choice to go all in against tilt moving forward. After a sprint to get a lot of work done for the season, followed by obsessively watching the results go against me for 6.5 hours, I was left asking “Why am I doing this?”
Even with trying to be more positive, I felt myself often getting annoyed over injuries and general results of the game and trying a bit too hard to wish and to will the desired results into existence. Football Sunday consumes me. And ultimately, come Sunday night, no matter how much I had tilted or wished or hoped, the results weren’t going to be any different.
As much as I like to believe in the motto that “Process > Results”, it’s way easier to lose sight of the process if you’re hyper focused on the results, especially in a non productive, emotional way (objective evaluation of results is, of course, an important part of improving any process).
It’s foolish as well to think that, even with a WWE fake wrestling mindset, that I am able to contain the tilt and isolate it to just those 6.5 hours on Sunday. It’s going to affect my sleep, my mood, which in turn is going to affect my disposition, my work, my communication, and relationships.
So, if the results aren’t going to change, why don’t I take a more positive approach anyways?
Moving forward, I am not going to tilt…at all…when it comes to football results.
I refuse to let injuries, bad bounces, poor decisions, etc. that I have no control over dictate my happiness.
This is my job, and I still plan to follow the results closely, just less obsessively and negatively.
Is this a little extreme? Do I really need to not tilt at all? Is it realistic to not get mad and point out the obvious if things are going against me? If you’ve never seen the movie Yes, Man with Jim Carrey, it’s a nice lighthearted rom com. But in the movie, Jim Carrey is negative and stuck in an unhealthy rut. On the advice of an inspirational guru, Carrey takes on a vow to say yes to everything. It’s, of course, a ridiculous notion, but later in the movie the guru tells Carrey the vow was never meant to be taken literally forever. It was, however, necessary to get him to open his mind to a new approach.
So, no, I don’t plan nor expect to never tilt a football game ever again in my life. And yes, I am sure at first my “positive” responses on Sunday’s will feel forced and manufactured, just as my willful ignorance of negative outcomes will be. But this is something I want to try in the short term in hopes that it makes my Sundays more productive and healthy, and who knows the positive byproduct that may have on my life all the other days.
I, and most anyone reading this, am one of the luckiest people in the history of the world. The odds of being born into existence are so small, let alone in this time period with the family, friends, and career that I have. It’s a contradiction then for me to spend 1 out of 7 days of the week searching for and reminding myself how unlucky I am about something so ultimately unimportant. I am hoping to properly shift that focus.