This past weekend the AFL and the NRL finished up with their huge Grand Finals. You already know the results. Did your team win? The mighty Adelaide Crows - my team - lost. Poorly. If you follow the Crows or the North Queensland Cowboys then, you are probably in the same big, sad boat.
I know. It stings.
But take a paddle and let’s row out of this mess, together.
Now that the season has ended, what do you do? How are you meant to deal with the horrible set of events that transpired during the biggest game of the year? Fortunately, it's a lived experience for me - I'm living it right now. But here are a few things that are helping me to deal.
No one likes a sore loser and you’ll be sorer than most. Congratulate the winning team and their fans and say that they played well. You don’t have to mean it. Just say it. Shake a few hands, have a laugh about how the umpires were horrible and use the old footy proverb ‘they were just the better team on the day’ to get out of any uncomfortable situations. It’ll be very hard for the winning teams to be humble.
Talk About It
It might seem counter-intuitive, but dissect the game and what went wrong with other supporters. Do it briefly – don’t wallow in the mistakes – just mention them. If someone wants to discuss the game with you, then discuss it. It's positive to talk about these things like they're in the past and you can move on and remember that there's only another six months until every team starts from zero again.
I also particularly enjoy discussing how terrible some of your players were or how the player that was judged best on ground was didn't deserve best on ground. That may go against my first 'be humble' point, but I've already congratulated the winners. It's time to get real
Do Not Use Social Media
This is the one that will really hurt. You’ll watch on as friends who’ve never mentioned supporting any sports team in their life suddenly talking about the winners as if they are their own child. Then they’ll start posting photos of themselves wearing team merchandise like it’s armour, sharing pages from other supporters and picking player’s names out of a hat and saying “how good did they play?”
Then there’s the supporters of other teams who didn’t even make it to the Grand Final. Those guys are just fishing. They’ve got no stake in this – it’s likely their teams lost in extra time with a kick after the siren.
Don’t Watch The Replay
Your team just lost the championship match. You don’t need to see it again. How many times do you want to go through this? Remember how you felt the first time? Don’t put yourself through that yet again. It won’t help you. It will only make it worse.
You’ll look at every play carefully – “oh, if only we tapped the ball there”, “if only we kicked longer”, “if only the literal planets hadn’t aligned against us” – but ‘if only’ doesn’t help you sleep at night. I told you, no 'what if' scenarios.
The News Is Also Bad
Online, print, TV, radio – any news sources covering the game aren’t going to feel any sympathy for you. This is a time of elation (for one team) and they want to capitalise on that feeling – that makes people buy papers. It makes people tune in. It's totally fair, the winning team deserves all the accolades. They're the ones going into the Wikipedia pages of history. On that note: Don't check Wikipedia.
You’re miserable. You don't need their happiness shoved in your face just yet.
The hard luck stories about your team will come, but they don’t help either. Just avoid traditional news sources altogether. If you live in Melbourne and aren't a Tigers or Storm fan, all I can say is "I'm sorry."
Watch A Replay
Not of the championship game, of course. Watch a replay of the good times. For me, that means putting on the 1997/1998 back-to-back championships that the Adelaide Crows won 20 years ago. I can live in the past, that’s fine. It’s nice here. It’s comfortable.
Find a game that gets you really happy. Of course, if your team has rarely tasted success like, say, the Melbourne Football Club, then I would find something else that makes you happy and stick to that. Like knitting or charcuterie boards. On the other hand, you could always flip the narrative and think about the team you hate most, then go watch a replay of that team losing. That always feels good too.
Remember How Good The Pre-Game Show Was
The AFL and the NRL really got it right this year. At the AFL Grand Final, they had The Killers perform a 16-minute set of some of their biggest hits from “When You Were Young” to "Somebody Told Me" to absolute banger “Mr Brightside” and they did it all with more energy than the entire Adelaide Crows team had in their full 80 minutes of game time. Oh, and they just threw in a Midnight Oil track to absolutely blow the roof off the MCG. You can catch it below.
It was all about Macklemore at the NRL Grand Final – and after a week of political posturing about whether or not he should be able to sing his pro-marriage equality jam “Same Love” – he came out, sang it and made a lot of people awfully emotional. Mary Lambert absolutely belted out the chorus and social media lit up. It was excellent and if you haven't seen it, you need to. I truly think Macklemore started pretty terribly, fumbling his lines and just generally seeming out of breath, but by the time "Same Love" kicked in, he was rolling.
I’m still thinking about how The Killers played a Midnight Oil track. Man. Awesome.
Let The Fire Burn
Use the emotion and sadness and grief and build towards next year. Cheer harder and louder. Upgrade your membership.
Hope that the Crows trade Josh Jenkins. Truly believe that your team will be back there next year and forget about 2017.
It's all about 2018.
Thanks for riding the wave of AFL-related Lifehacker posts with me over the last week. Please send heartfelt condolences. See you all next year.