0-3 and staring down the barrel


It’s the nature of sports reporting a common garden individual match , that could simply be enjoyed for its own sake, or by supporters of the competing teams, has to be built up to mean something more. This could be local bragging rights, revenge for a past defeat or some other real or imagined past incident, a (usually confected) rivalry, which can finally be resolved.

In the AFL, even better than any of these is to broaden the implications of the match – win today, or “stare down the barrel” (few other metaphors are authorised) of missing the finals. It’s particularly prevalent – in its irrational form – early in the season, when the loss of a few games has media vultures circling.

Will Brodie’s article is typical, and he even appears to have a decent statistical case. Articles so often tell you how seldom something happens, but rarely how often the opportunity has arisen for it to happen. Brodie does that, letting us know the rarity of teams making the finals when starting 1-3: 20 of out 70 times. Continue reading