Monday, December 12, 2011

On Second Thoughts

Which is Larger? Elephant or Moon.Was a fun day of football yesterday. Did well on picks, including benefiting from all three of those miracudiculous finishes that saw the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and New York Giants each pull out victories when defeat seemed all but certain.

I’ve mentioned before how the pool I’m in is a simple pick’em pool -- i.e., we pick winners only, not fretting about the spread. Which means that every week everybody’s picking mighty Green Bay to win and poor Indy to lose. But there are usually a handful of games in which our little group of pigskin prophets part from one another.

With the Dallas-New York game, I’d gone back and forth a few times on Sunday morning before finally selecting the Giants. I figured even though they’d lost four straight, three of those games were against top tier teams (49ers, Packers, Saints). Was also counting on NYG being in do-or-die mode as a loss would pretty much dash their playoff hopes for good.

So I submitted the pick before lunch, and mentioned to Vera Valmore something about being less than confident about it.

“You can always change it,” she said with a grin, knowing that I have a strict policy against such second guessing. I laughed in acknowledgement of her jokey challenge to my resolve.

Funny thing, though... just minutes before the game began last night, I was possessed with an urge to switch the pick. Which, as Vera had indicated, is possible right up until the opening kickoff.

But I resisted. And when the Giants were down 12 with five minutes to go, I again mostly resisted second guessing my policy regarding second guessing, having resigned myself to missing the pick. Then came one touchdown. And another. And a two-point conversion and a blocked field goal.

And then I felt like a genius. You know, in the got-all-my-chips-in-as-a-huge-dog-and-hit-like-a-luckbox sort of way.

I think that for most of us second guessing oneself is almost unavoidable. And if we engage in pursuits like poker or trying to pick winners of football games, we necessarily give ourselves repeated tests of self-confidence to go along with the analytical challenges already present in these tasks.

People who second guess themselves a lot often also worry about not having control over their own lives. Meanwhile, participating in any gambling game like poker or sports betting also necessarily invites a kind of chance element into one’s life that requires us to recognize and accept that there are events that will affect us that we simply cannot do anything about.

All of which is to say that these gambling games perhaps answer some sort of need a lot of us have to test ourselves -- to see how well we can withstand the inevitable second guessing which the games invite upon us.

Then again, maybe they don’t.

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