This is the 153rd installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge in order to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation.

If you’ve read The Labyrinthian before, you probably know that I write about whatever pops into my brain and then pretend to try to connect it to fantasy sports. That might be what’s happening this very sentence. Probably so.

I’m writing this piece late in the evening of July 4th. I’m wearing a ‘Merica baseball hat, blue shorts covered in miniature American flags, and some shirt that probably has mustard stains. Fireworks are going off in the background, and my dog is growling.

This is a short piece about the stupidity of fireworks. It’s not intended to be deep. It’s intended to be 1) short and 2) vaguely applicable to fantasy sports in some random way.

The Stupidity of Fireworks

I’m all for having fun — there’s nothing I love more than unwinding after a long day with a stiff drink and a fake British accent — but in 2013 there were eight deaths and 11,400 injuries in the United Stats from accidents with fireworks on the Fourth of July (per Los Angeles Times). Of course, that information might not be accurate. Based on what I’ve seen some people say on Twitter, the LA Times is fake news. And we all know how reliable Twitter is.

Still, we all know the dangers of fireworks. Let’s not forget that just two years ago (on July 4th), Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul almost lost his hand and career because he decided to set off some fireworks he bought for $1,100. For cheap explosives, they were ultimately expensive. Honestly, JPP’s lucky that he almost lost only his hand. When it comes to explosives, losing a hand vs. losing a life is a matter of inches. [Insert here some old-time saying about horseshoes and hand grenades.]

To my knowledge, a firework show is yet to save a life, so in terms of lives lost vs. lives gained we’re almost certainly looking at a negative expected value endeavor. By the way, if you want a positive expected value endeavor, then subscribe to FantasyLabs. #ThisArticleIsAboutDFS

Now back to whatever I was talking about. Oh, yes, fireworks. I couldn’t remember what I was writing about — because I was distracted by the f*cking fireworks. As I’m typing this sentence an ambulance is literally speeding by the house with its siren howling screaming yelling blaring. I’ve lived in this house for about a year, and that’s the first time I’ve heard an ambulance pass. Naturally, the fireworks continue unabated in the background.

Fireworks & Roller Coasters

It’s possible that fireworks have some benefits I don’t see, just as fantasy sports have benefits unseen by people who don’t play them. For instance, it’s awesome that every time a Texas Ranger hits a home run at Globe Life Park in Arlington some fireworks go off. Given that those are set off by professionals and thousands of people experience them in a moment of jubilation, those fireworks might be +EV.

Nevertheless, I tend to think of fireworks as the explosive version of roller coasters. In case you need me to tell you, I don’t ride roller coasters.

How are fireworks and roller coasters similar?

It’s not necessary to set off fireworks or ride roller coasters. To do either activity, one usually has to pay for the experience. Plus, both experiences are ephemeral. Firework shows and roller coaster rides typically don’t last long. If they did, they’d be less exciting — which leads to this: Fireworks and roller coasters have diminishing returns. Everything has diminishing returns, but the returns with fireworks and roller coasters diminish quicker than those with other experiences, like sex or reading this article.

Additionally, the returns of fireworks and roller coasters don’t compound — unless you become someone who professionally operates and/or designs fireworks and/or roller coasters. But, generally, after you set off fireworks or ride roller coasters, that’s it. You don’t know how to do anything better. You don’t have more knowledge or skill that can be applied to anything. In fact, you haven’t actually accomplished anything at all, because it’s not as if you’re the one who figured out how to design fireworks and roller coasters so that 99.999999 percent of the time they don’t kill people. All you’ve done is partaken in an experience without dying.

It’s not as if surviving is insignificant — because anytime you set off fireworks or ride a roller coaster there’s always the risk of death: An unnecessary death that you probably paid to experience while trying to have fun.

Fireworks and Roller Coasters Are Fun

Fun. There it is. How are fireworks and roller coasters similar? Why do people set off fire works and ride roller coasters?

Fireworks and roller coasters are fun.

Why are they fun?

I have three theories:

  1. They jolt our senses. Fireworks are visually and auditorily stunning. Roller coasters viscerally disorient and reorient our bodies. They excite and awaken us physically.
  2. They arouse us psychically. They give us the opportunity to have a relatively safe and controlled encounter with death. It’s mentally electrifying to expose oneself to the possibility of destruction and then not be destroyed.
  3. They enable us to perform wastefulness — and it’s fun to be powerful and carefree enough to be profligate. We enjoy wasting the money spent on the experience, and we enjoy consuming the materials that went into making the experience possible.

There could be other theories for why people set off fireworks and ride roller coasters, but the simplest explanation probably has the most accuracy and precision: They are fun.

All of this applies to fantasy sports.

By the way, the fireworks just stopped. I’ve lost my motivation to continue with this piece.

A Daily Fantasy Metaphor

Lots of people shoot off fireworks and ride roller coasters without realizing they are paying to enjoy something that’s unnecessary, -EV, and catastrophically dangerous.

Perhaps there’s some aspect of your DFS process that you need to examine further, something in the way you play that is fun and seems totally normal but ultimately is unnecessary, -EV, and costing you money. Maybe you need to use our Trends tool to research the types of players you tend to roster. Or maybe you need to use our DFS Ownership Dashboard to analyze the ways in which you gain exposure to particular players. Whatever it is, there’s probably something you’re doing that seems reasonable but actually isn’t. If you take the time to think about it, you’ll discover what it is.

Just because it’s the Fourth of July doesn’t mean you absolutely must shoot fireworks. I mean that literally — but also metaphorically.

The Home of the Brave

I hope you had a happy and safe Fourth of July. I hope you’re not too hungover for work. I hope you remember, everything considered, how fortunate we are to exist at this time in this place.

Also, those f*ckers are shooting fireworks again.


The Labyrinthian: 2017.58, 153

Previous installments can be accessed via my author page or the series archive.