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.
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.
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.
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.
Before we knew it, round 1 was upon us.
The First Two Rounds
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.
For round two, more complex systems were developed, using highly technical specifications.
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.
The end of the second round had some perturbed, some joyous.
The first two rounds bought a fairly even field, but three players were emerging as early dominant forces.
Gettin’ into it: Rounds 3, 4 and 5
Round 3 brought important new questions to light.
Strategies were reassessed and reflections were made on the season thus far, and where thinking had gotten each of us.
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.
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.
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!