Sneer Campaign Plays Australian Football Tipping, Pt 1: The Ignorance Competition

Australian Rules football is a funny ol’ game. You score through four posts instead of some funny netted box, or a big H. There’s no padding to be worn, despite the fact that people regularly jump two metres (that’s about six feet for you yankees) in the air onto the heads of their opponents and sometimes, teammates. It has its own special language, from ‘speccies’, to ‘torpedoes’ and the much sought after ‘screamer’. There’s kicking, catching — no throwing but there is holding the ball and sort of punching it out of your own hand as if it has wronged you.

Sky blue background. Yellow egg shaped ball that has the silhouette of a kangaroo on it and above it it says "Australian Fotball." Yes. "Fot." There are white laces at the top.
Behold the elegant sports egg!

In a game so chaotic, no team stays at the top for too long. A season, maybe, two or three, rarely. But often, even week to week, a team’s standing tells you little about whether they will come out and win that game. Which makes it the perfect game for a bunch of people who know little to nothing about it to spend every week guessing which team will win each and every match, and to turn that into its own competition. With me, your token Australian to explore the core question this series will seek the answer to: are you better off not knowing, when it comes to trying to play AFL tipping? Is knowledge a burden, relative ignorance a blissful gift that frees you from the doomed sensation that maybe, this time, you know what you’re doing? Here’s what we’ve learnt so far.

The Beginning

Text at top “The Contenders”, image with all the faces in a 3x2 formation. Each face has a little name and description. 

Zach, guy with glasses and short brown hair, with the description: "Confident and Curious." 
Foes, a long haired blonde girl with glasses, with the words: "Enthusiastic and Confused"  
Amandoll girl with asymmetrical brown hair, with the words: "Ol’ Drawhands Herself." 
Xylo, a girl with mermaid style curly hair of blue and green with the words: "Straight from the Heart."
Dollissa, girl with glasses and curly brown hair  up in a pony tail, with the words: "The doll with the human mind." 
Jamie, guy wearing a red hat, with the words: "The quiet dark horse." 

And at the bottom all alone is Saxon, girl with pink and blue and purple pastel hair wearing an Australian cork hat, with the words: "Australian, Knower of Things, Control Tipster."

Things got off to a rousing start as we discussed the “nicknames” of all the teams. Amongst more familiar choices (Giants, Lions, Tigers) was enough birds to fill several trees (Crows, Magpies, Hawks, Eagles, Swans) as well as some left-field choices (Demons, Dockers, Blues, Power). Some people began taking up a team as their very own, using a variety of decision making techniques.

Zach's head says: "I picked the north Melbourne kangaroos as my vanity team because I looked up "the worst team in the afl". And then I looked up the poorest team in the afl, just to be sure."
Foes' head is saying, “Aesthetics are very important. I have been looking at all the jerseys. For example the Hawthorn Hawks have a great logo but their jerseys are hideous”
Xylo says "Ok I registered and picked the Geelong Cats because they’re cats."

Early on, I was unsure if I would be a bystander, objective to all proceedings. But I soon realised I had an important role to play.

Saxon's head says, "I decided I am going to tip properly because AFL is unpredictable and I think knowing 100x more about the game won't necessarily give me more correct tips. I’m just a control group token Australian."
Dollissa says, "Are you implying that we are tipping improperly? We are experts. Australian football experts."

Before we knew it, round 1 was upon us. 

The First Two Rounds

Foes' tearful face is saying, "Shit, I forgot! I fell asleep!"

An inauspicious start. Lucky for Foes, you can change your tip up until each game starts, so only one game was missed! 

After a complete round of AFL, the table was all 4s and 5s – except Xylo, who managed an impressive 7.

Xylo says, "God I’m just crushing it"

For round two, more complex systems were developed, using highly technical specifications.

Zach's head saying "After doing the research and consulting the statistics, I have locked in my second round tips. This time the system will work."
Foes is saying, "I am using a made up system where I look at the percentages and then estimate how wrong I think they are based on "
Dollissa says "This is exactly my system."
Amandoll says nonchalantly, "My system is still "try not to look at percentages and follow my heart""

Round 2 started in an interesting fashion when Lance Franklin, a bonafide superstar of the game, kicked his 1000th career goal (the 6th ever person to do so in a league that traces back to 1857), leading to the entire field being invaded by approximately 20, 000 people, Lance getting mobbed, and the whole game, which was 5 minutes from ending, being paused for almost an hour while the oval was cleared, after which the teams came back for five minutes of comparatively very underwhelming spectacle. 

Foe's head is saying, "That's so many people. How are they ever gonna get then all to sit back down?"
Zach's head saying, "I hope nobody got trampled."
Saxon says she thinks she hopes it too, but says it in an uncertain tone.
Xylo exclaims, "Holy shit!"
Amandoll says, "awww good sports moment!"

The end of the second round had some perturbed, some joyous.

Zach's sad face saying, "Upset that I'm actually trying but still losing."
Saxon says, "You won the week!"
Zach's angry crying head saying, "THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH."
Dollissa asks, "Am I winning yet?"
Xylo taunts: "It’s still meeeeee. Very annoyed Zach and Jamie are right behind me though. I want a bigger lead."

The first two rounds bought a fairly even field, but three players were emerging as early dominant forces. 

Graph with faces and numbers next to them and the faces are higher when the numbers are higher. Xylo = 12, Jamie and Zach with 11 each, Dollissa and Amandoll each have 9, and Saxon and Foes are tied with 8.
Statistical Chart!

Gettin’ into it: Rounds 3, 4 and 5

Round 3 brought important new questions to light.

Foes is tearfully asking, "Am I still last?"
Zach's head saying, "You’re tied for 4th!"
Foes asks for clarification: "With… everyone that isn’t Xylo and Jamie and You?"
Zach's head saying, "Except Melissa, who is in last."
Foes announces: "I'll take it!"
Dollissa angrily demands to know why she is always last.

Strategies were reassessed and reflections were made on the season thus far, and where thinking had gotten each of us. 

Xylo says, "I used my usual strat. My heart."
Dollissa dramatically says, "Don’t use my heart it doesn’t fuckin’ work."
Saxon says, "Mine is full of gravy."
Dollissa says, "I’ll come back. I’ll be in first soon, just you wait and see."
Zach's crying head saying, "This is the week where everything falls apart for the ol Zachster."
Foes asks,"Am I winning yet?"

A favourite logo was discovered by the group, a fan made Adelaide Crows logo called the Adelaide Crom. His little arms delighted and enthralled us all.

Xylo looks at a Crom Logo which seems to be a crow with man arms kind of looking like it's jogging or dancing? She says, "That crom logo is so funny."

But as we reached the end of round five, reality was setting in. A clear pattern was emerging in the field. A pattern of: Xylo Wins. Everybody else ends up sort of in the middle. Melissa does so badly it’s actually kind of impressive. 

A pie chart showing that Xylo now has 30 wins, Jamie and Amandoll are tied at 27, Foes has 26, Zach has 24, Saxon has 23, and Dollissa trails with just 17
A chart! A chart!

As the week progressed, we talked about what we had learned so far. But that will have to wait for the next installment of… Sneer Campaign’s Ignorance Competition!

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