I have extraordinary powers involving the outcome of sporting events and the outcome of stock prices. It is not widely known that I have these powers.
My powers only work if I feel very strongly about what is going on. And they only work if I concentrate hard and remain present. If I leave, my magic ends and things fall flat. That’s the way it is.
With sports, here’s how it works. Well, maybe I should just give an example. Last week, my wife and I were watching the Louisville-Michigan basketball game for the national championship. I didn’t know anything about these teams, but from shortly after it started, I knew I was watching something extraordinary.
Michigan, the underdog, and Louisville were tied at 7–7, and from the Michigan bench the coach sent out this slight 5-foot 11-inch freshman to give Trey Burke, the National Player of the Year, a breather. From more than 20 feet out, he swished a three pointer. This is a very difficult shot from such a distance, but he did it. Even the best players usually make only a third of their shots from that far out. (Sportscaster Johnny Most named those shots “from downtown.”) Anyway, now Michigan was up by three. A few minutes later, somebody threw the kid the ball and he swished another.
At this point, the announcer said that Spike Albrecht had sat on the bench for nearly the whole season, only played a few minutes a game and certainly was not a star.
“When he’s played,” he said, “he’s averaged just 1.5 points a game. Now in two minutes, he has six points.”
I decided to root for the underdog, and root for the kid. Anyway, during the next nine minutes, Spike Albrecht swished two more three pointers from very far out. Then he had the ball when he was guarded too well to shoot a three, so he swiveled around, headed for the basket and, in one deft move, beat a player a foot taller than he was and made a layup. The crowd leaped to its feet. In 12 minutes, he made four straight three pointers, had a total of 17 points and Michigan was pulling away.
As it happened that night, Chris and I had gone out to a late dinner. Before we left, we had set the game to record, with the intention that we’d watch it when we got back. We’d stayed late, however, and when we returned it was already 11 p.m. We thought, well, maybe we could speed through the beginning and then watch the closing moments. That would get us to bed by midnight.
But now there was THIS. This incredible kid. What should I do? I knew my abilities. If I stayed with it and watched him through his incredible run, he would finish the game with 40 points, Michigan would win and he would be the hero of the game. But if we did that, it would be one in the morning and I’d be zonked the whole next day. Was I willing to do that? Was Michigan worth it?
I made a decision. There was a need for us to get up early. Let’s hit the sack, I told my wife. Okay, she said. I picked up the remote. Michigan would lose. Click.
Well, look it up. What I knew would happen was exactly what happened. (Even though the game was already over while we were watching it!) The kid, after his 17 points with me cheering for him, didn’t get even one more point. Indeed, Louisville, in the final four minutes of the first half, right after I clicked off the TV, roared back into the game, shut the kid down and was within a point at halftime. And when the teams came out of the locker room and I was not there, it was, indeed, bye-bye Michigan.
That would not have happened had I been watching.
Now let me tell you about the stock market. This is exactly the same thing as with the sports events, but in reverse, I am sorry to say. If I care, if I get involved with a stock and cheer it on, everything soon falls apart. Without fail. And so, having been burned every time I have gotten involved, I no longer do this.
But there are temptations. In the eerie aftermath of sequestration last month, the stock market swiftly rose. You couldn’t miss seeing it. I was tempted to ride it up. But if I jumped in, I knew what would happen. The market would continue on up for a few days in order to lead me on, and then it would collapse in a heap.
What did I want to do? Maybe I could get in and out quickly. Get out just as the nosedive was about to start. I could count on a few bucks. Did I want to do this? Or did I want to stay out of things and, for the sake of the country, have this enormous rally last for a year or more and have everybody applauding and cheering?
Well, the United States of America means a great deal to me. It was far more important that the whole country pull itself up out of the hole we’d gotten ourselves in than that I make a few measly bucks.
I actually did the math. In and out in a few days, we’re probably talking what, 50 bucks? This was a no-brainer. So I did nothing.