How About A Fantasy Fitness League

by DavalosMcCormack on September 24, 2009

We’re funny creatures. We can get ourselves to believe lots of things, except those that really matter.

The other day I was in the gym listening to a trio of young men, in their mid to late 20’s, talking about their Fantasy League football teams. They were completely engrossed in their conversation and got quite animated telling each other how their quarterback had done over the weekend, how many yards their running backs gained, how many catches their wide receiver made, how many sacks their defensive line made. They were tossing around names I’d never heard of but their friends would nod knowingly at each mention.

At one point one of them lowered his voice, almost to a whisper, and looked around him as he spoke. The other two leaned in, conspirators gleaning some secret information that no one else in the gym was privy too.

I thought “What the heck is the whispering for, it’s Fantasy Football. It’s all made up! No one cares” But they cared. For these three it was all very real. For millions of people around the country Fantasy Football is not just a hobby, it’s a passion.

The three young men in the gym clearly felt very connected to their teams, to the players they had chosen, and had strong opinions about other players and other teams. It was almost as if they felt that because it was “their” team, that they could influence the way the individuals played, and could take some measure of credit for their performance.

It all reminded me of a scene from a book by Roddy Doyle, ‘The Van”, about watching Ireland in the World Cup soccer tournament. The lead character is with his mates, and about 100 other people, in the local pub. Ireland are down 1-0 and time is running out. So his friends order him to go to the toilet. Apparently years ago he went to the bathroom during a similarly critical point in a game and Ireland scored. So, ever since, whenever the team were in trouble his mates would insist he hit the head, and ‘take one for the team’ so to speak.

Off he goes and of course he’s barely inside the door than Ireland score. He rushes out and his friends all mob him as if he somehow conjured up the goal just by pulling down his fly!

It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it, that ability we have to make us feel that we somehow helped make something happen, helped influence the outcome of an event thousands of miles away involving complete strangers who don’t even know we exist.

We can convince ourselves of that – or that turning our hats back to front and inside out can help our baseball team rally and win – yet when it comes to believing in our ability to change ourselves, so many of us don’t think we have the power or control to do so, that it is beyond our ability to influence events that close to home.

It’s a shame because self-belief is a terribly important part of any lifestyle change. We can plan as much as we like, we can think about it as much as we want, but if we don’t believe we can do it then we won’t be able to do it. It’s that simple.

It’s an odd state of affairs isn’t it. We can convince ourselves that we have control over others, even those we don’t know, but don’t believe we can control ourselves. That is why so many people find it hard to lose weight, impossible to give up smoking, tough to stick with an exercise program.

Maybe if they imagined it was someone else trying to lose weight they’d have more luck.

So, maybe that’s what we should set up, a Fantasy Fitness League, where we try to get fit by pretending we’ve doing it for other people. If we did our imaginations might not be the only part of us that we end up exercising.

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