News & Analysis

'Slow and steady' is nonsense

Jun 5, 2018; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick (right) and running back LeGarrette Blount (29) walk off the field after practice at the Lions Headquarters and Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor’s note: Every Sunday, we’ll wrap up the week on PFF Fantasy with some topic one of our writers has been thinking about of late, and recap the features, columns, and podcasts you could find on the site that week.)

In one of those Twitter questions someone posts just to get quote-tweets and stuff last week, I responded to a question on what you’re most pedantic about last week. In short:

  • “Factoid” doesn’t mean little fact. (Just as “humanoid” doesn’t mean “little human.”)
  • “Negative reinforcement” is wildly misused, when the term generally wanted there is “positive punishment.”
  • “Hopefully” is misused basically 100 percent of the time; it isn’t a synonym for “I hope.”
  • You can end a sentence with a preposition and you can split an infinitive, and the “rules” against those are nonsense gibberish that somehow caught on.

I stand by all those as “Daniel’s pet pedantries,” but the one I forgot when I was tweeting that was maybe my biggest pet peeve in the world. Because it’s one of our most oft-repeated aphorisms, and it comes up in almost every walk of life, and it’s utterly, patently wrong, and we need to stop saying it:

Slow and steady does NOT win the race.

If there’s one single piece of advice that is given most often in the world, it’s probably some form of “Never give up.” But after that, it might well be the “slow and steady” nonsense.

You know the story, of course. Tortoise and hare are in a race. Hare gets off to a big lead. Tortoise moves like a tortoise. Hare, confident in his victory, takes a nap or whatever near the end, rests too long, tortoise passes him and wins, “slow and steady!”

If you hear that story, though, and decide that’s the takeaway, then I want to know what your takeaway was from, say, The Boy Who Cried Wolf — “Don’t put a child in charge of sheep”? Because the moral of “The Tortoise and the Hare” is, at best, “Don’t get cocky.” There’s a heaping helping of “Never give up” in there as well, but there’s definitely nothing about the virtues of slowness and steadiness.

Think about it. The tortoise doesn’t win by being slothlike. He wins by dogged determination, and even moreso by racing against an idiot hare.

It’s a noble enough notion, I guess, advocating that you can win despite being clearly less talented or less adept. But it’s also wildly misleading. You don’t want to be the fantasy team that starts 0-4. It’s not somehow more noble to come from behind than to jump out to an early lead. Yes, you can win with a late-season surge. You can bomb your draft, forget to set your Week 1 lineup, and kick into high gear in Week 5 and find a way to the championship.

You know what’s more common, though? Drafting well, rocking your Week 1 lineup, winning early, and staying ahead. Forget about slow and steady. Well, forget about the slow part. Steady is fine. Fast and steady is fantastic. Fast and steady wins the race. Jump out to an early lead.

And don’t take a nap in Week 13.

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