- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2011

I woke up Monday morning to find my playoff semifinal matchup was tied, which, thanks to Calvin Johnson, led me to wonder: Does it matter how you win?

Before the fantasy postseason began, there was some heated debate over the tiebreaker, which, in this particular league, was based on the performance of the flex position. If a game ended in a tie, the team with the most productive flex player that week would “win.”

Like it or not, that was the rule. So I adjusted accordingly (games are all about strategy, right?). Despite a relative slump the previous month, the Lions’s top receiver was a no-brainer to move into the flex spot. Johnson rewarded my maneuver with a season-high 37.5 points, so I knew that I would advance to the championship game in the event of a tie.

With all the afternoon games complete, I was losing 113-99. But while my opponent was done, I still had two players left to go - Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday night and 49ers kicker David Akers on Monday night. I didn’t assume (because we all know what happens when we do that), but I did hope (silently and repeatedly) that Rivers would make the tie scenario moot and I wouldn’t have to sweat out another game.

Rivers scored 14 points. Of course he did. The game was tied. I didn’t wake up sweating the next day, but I might as well have.

I immediately started running through the possibilities, no matter how implausible. What if the 49ers get shut out and Akers misses a field goal attempt (-1 point in this league)? What if Akers misses his first attempt and breaks his leg in the process? It could happen! Oh, no, I’m gonna lose!

Then it hit me. I didn’t have to sweat this out. I had the tiebreaker. I could deactivate Akers and “win.” Such a course would be totally acceptable according to the rules, but would it be right?

I already knew what I was going to do, but I talked it over with my wife and a few co-workers (I couldn’t find a priest).

Most sided with my belief that deactivating a player to force a tie was not in the spirit of competition. It’s just a game, but any game that doesn’t involve dragons, spells and lonely basements deserves to be played fairly. It does matter how you win. At least, it matters to me how I win. I want to earn my victories, as much as victories can be earned when you’re completely at the whim of how other people perform. But you get my point. Win if you can, lose if you must and avoid ties if you can help it.

As is usually the case, I had no cause to worry. Akers went 2-for-2 on field goals early in the game before adding two extra points.

I won comfortably. The right way.

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