On why Dream Team is not (really) about winning…

This is Al Pacino’s Two for the Money speech on gambling. For those that can’t be bothered reading the whole thing, here is the link to the video.

“Gambling is not your problem…not even close. I don’t know how to say this without sounding a little rude but…you’re a lemon Leon. Like a bad car, there is something inherently defective in you…and you, and you and all of us in this room. We’re all lemons. We look like everybody else, but what makes us different…is our defect. You see, most gamblers, when they go to gamble, they go to win. When we go to gamble, we go to lose [subconsciously]. Me, I never feel better than when they’re raking the chips away; not bringing them in. And everyone here knows what I’m talking about. Hell, even when we win it’s just a matter of time before we give it all back. But when we lose, that’s another story. When we lose, and I’m talking about the kind of loss that makes your asshole pucker to the size of a decimal point – you know what I mean – You’ve just recreated the worst possible nightmare this side of malignant cancer, for the twentieth goddamn time; and you’re standing there and you suddenly realise, Hey, I’m still… here. I’m still breathing. I’m still alive. Us lemons, we fuck shit up all the time on purpose. Because we constantly need to remind ourselves we’re alive. Gambling’s not your problem. It’s this fucked up need to feel something. To convince yourself you exist. That’s the problem.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and tell you that if you are going for the overall win this year you will lose. You will already know this if you picked Christian Howard as a POD. Statistically, only one of 261,352 people will win. This article is not for the one smarmy FJ Cruiser driving son of a bitch that will actually win the car. You won’t win. You probably won’t even win your league -you might get close if your league is full of lemons, but you probably won’t win that either. Which is not such a bad thing, because I am going to argue here that almost nothing about DT, or for that matter being a sports fan in general, has to do with winning. It has to do with losing, because most of you playing will, lose, most of you know that, and yet you are still playing. Because you have a defect.

When you don’t win, you will still be alive. And you will feel great. Even though it meant so much and you almost put your iPhone through your temple five minutes previously because that kick at goal went out on the full, when that kick to kick between your boys Suckling and Birchall turned into a “caught in the press” failed handball attempt and a free against for a frustration trip/high tackle. If only, you scream, if only! If only I’d won! So – I know I won’t win the car, but I’m still in love! The reason, I think, with a little help of some inspiration from my friend Pacino, is twofold.

Firstly, you think you are a sports/DT fan because you like winning, but I am going to argue here that you are actually a sports fan because you like losing. Basically we are all masochists. We are all lemon shaped masochists. Specifically, we are masochists that have developed a dependence on our pain. Dependent – addicted – to pain and disappointment (Dear Andrew Carrazzo, you have ruined my life ps get well soon) Why do true sports fans hate people that follow Manchester United because they saw them on telly winning things so much? Because being a sports fan is predominantly about losing – not about winning – and the real sports fans are the ones that suffer, and suffer, and suffer, until they feel that they are Jesus himself on the cross, get a warm fuzzy feeling and realise it is the hand of Sports God lifting them up to a higher plane of being, where Melbourne will win a premiership and the Western Bulldogs might. Being a sports fan is not predominantly about winning, it’s about martyrdom. How else do you explain St Kilda supporters? And that is why you love DT. Most of you will tell great stories of near defeats, of gross injustice, and through these stories you will live forever.

The second reason is that DT makes you think you are in control, just enough, but in the end you are definitely not in control (e.g. Round 4 absolute carnage). And you like not being in control – you are just a plastic bag floating in the AFL wind, a DT fairy dancing on a Bunsen burner. In Dream Team, on the day, once that lockout has passed, you are not in control. And you don’t want to be in control. You like not being in control. More specifically, you like the appearance or plausible illusion that you are in control, that you can exercise agency, without actually being in control. Which is why white-water rafting shits all over driving a Volvo down the autobahn, and why being drunk is so much fun. You can convince yourself you are in control, but you know you are not and therefore your fate is at least to some extent, in the hands of some entity other than yourself. The thing about not being in control is that you can always convince yourself it’s not your fault. You have an exit mechanism from total responsibility. Why did Lyon put Broughton in that role? Not my fault, I couldn’t have predicted that. I am still the best in my mind, there are just mistakes being made by other people.

Losing is just as good as winning in DT, because they share two common elements that true sports fans love; martyrdom to a cause and the illusion of control with exit mechanism (it wasn’t my fault I did everything right). Once that lockout passes, you can’t change a thing. And you LOVE it. You think you want to win, but subconsciously you know that losing just as rewarding. You have a defect. You have the DT defect, and the defect that all true sports fans share. If you preferred winning, you would have more chance, and way more control, playing roulette with Al Pacino. You have done your research, you know your DT shit, but what do you also know? That you are not in control and at the end of the year, you will not win. You made all the right trades. You even psyched out people in the comments section of DTTalk to protect your smokies. Like Jesus, you did everything right and you still lost, they still killed you. But, like Jesus, your greatest victory was in death, for you will rise again. You will be better next week. You will be better next year. All of us here have a defect, and it is not, in spite of what I may have implied, that we all think we are Jesus (although I’m not ruling it out). And don’t say it’s not you, because if you are reading this, if you have read this far without stopping, this is for you.

Hey, were all still here right? Lemons.

The good thing about Dream Team, and this is where we diverge from Jesus and Mr Pacino’s insights, is that unlike compulsive gambling and being the son of God, Dream Team doesn’t completely take over and destroy your life. Right? I’d be willing to bet your girlfriends/boyfriends might disagree, if you still have them.

*shakes fist*

“Baby…come back…I’m gonna win the whole damn thing this year!! The car is mine!! You’ll see!!”

Good luck for the rest of the year everybody.

41 Comments

  • Good.

  • LOL so True

  • spot on!

    Good article

  • Just play poker if you don’t want to gamble.

  • hhaha nice

  • Very Good article

  • Ah, what?!

  • A lot more to it than just that imo.

    1. For those of us not playing sport anymore, its a chance to compete in something that has no negative consequences, but there is a huge upside if we are lucky enough. It gives us something to talk to people at work about, other than…work. It gives us an excuse to ring the folks and have a laugh over how you, they, some other guy did.

    2. It gives us an excuse and motivation to watch hours of AFL that ordinarily we couldn’t give a shit about. We feel in control of locking in that all important footy watching time as “research”, as if we are doing something important. Its a virtual shed. It takes away some of the control of our weekends from the missus ;)

    3. Its a form of escapism. When we are focussed on our teams etc we get into “Flow”, that feeling when you lose track of time when you are really into something. We like doing that.

    Its not just a masochistic exercise, but hey thats part of it.

    • You talk to your parents about DT?

      • My parents (both in their 70’s) are in my league (sub-2000 rating league).

        Footballs in my blood mate, my grandfather was on the Port Adelaide board back in the 50’s.

  • Guys, forget this POD bullshit. Pick your team on who you think is going to give you the highest score come the end of the season.

  • I still play to win….

  • i stopped reading after you said this article is not for the guy who is going to win the car

  • If my missus reads this, I’m doomed because she actually believes I’m going to win the car this year.

  • should i take pendlebury’s 114 or go Marc Murphy captain? or maybe goddard

  • One of the best Articles I’ve Seen,

    Really Great Article!

  • Did I just read this on DT Talk?? You should turn that into a PhD mate, cracker article!

  • Loved this article! Gave me a new angle to consider which is pretty hard to do as I’ve been a compulsive gambler for over 20 years and have spent nearly as long trying to work out why the hell I do it and how I tick. Pretty damn hard to give me entirely new insight to consider about why I am so drawn to facts, figures, competition and winning (or should I say inevitably losing!).

  • Obviously go for Melbourne, Western Bulldogs or Saint Kilda, if you have never felt the elation of winning you are missing out on life. Winning is everything, ‘if u aint first ur last’ – Ricky Bobby’s Dad.

  • This is all very clever and might apply to most, but not me! I am genuinely hard done by. Fancy Carrots hurting himself when in that form? How could Birch have hurt himself? Poor old Shawy must have walked under a ladder, Michael Hurley? How unlucky? What about that Sheedy conspiring against me to rest players with the “general” just so someone he knows will win the truck. Its all a conspiracy…………. a conspiracy I tell ya…………………..

    • Hard done by? A bit melodromatic aren’t we mate?

      This is DT. It costs nothing but your time. If you come 327,267th will it have any effect on your life? I hope not for your sake.

      • Hey Shaz! I guess you and a sense of humour dont mix? Good luck for the future my friend. A career in counselling could be the shot, you really have your finger on the pulse :)

        • I was more hoping for a carreer in DT. I put every effort into it and will accept nothing less than perfection. :)

  • Brilliant article. Spot on. What I love is the losers that still try to convince themselves they are going for the car. Too funny.

  • Cracker article, massive Al Pacino fan. Great analogy to, I know I inherintly f*#k shit up all the time. But hey I’m still here and as my old man always said, everyday your suckin oxygen is a good day.

  • That is the best article about Fantasy Sports that I have ever read. Absolutely spot on. I also find it a cracker that there are all these people convincing themselves this article does not relate to them. Super insight Supermafucho.
    Although I would win the car if not for the conniving mistakes by the likes of Lyon and Sheedy.

  • Just a DT fairy dancing on a bunsen burner…
    lol sums up the year so far

  • Cheers for the comments guys!

  • Supermufacho – gold mate!

  • absolute cracker of an article, so true!