How To Cope When Your Sports Team Loses The Grand Final

How To Cope When Your Sports Team Loses The Grand Final
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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.

Be Humble

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.

AFL Grand Final Score: Tigers Devour Crows

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      • he actually makes a valid point though.
        as an option, it is totally viable.
        people are often ragging on others for believing in God or some other deity, yet don’t look about at the zealots from sporting cultures, who at times, and not all, make some pretty outrageous life choices in dedication to a team or sports person and are far more religious than others devoted to a faith or creed. and when you step back and look at it, it seems quite weird.

  • Seriously, if the outcome of a game is having a serious emotional impact on you then you either have remarkably few problems, or one very serious problem. This is one time where it’s appropriate to say: harden the fuck up.

    • I mean, this is a case of “if it doesn’t affect you personally, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect anyone else”.

      When my grandmother, a passionate supporter of the club for 26 years, passed away a couple of months ago, I really hoped that her team – a big part of our family, all my life – could get over the line. If only because that would make my family really bloody happy.

      Sport is woven within the fabric and culture of Australian life. A loss may pale in comparison to other world events on a grief scale (especially today), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it can be an emotional experience for people, like myself.

      Thanks for your support.

    • I could say the same to you,

      Perhaps you should as you say “harden the f*** up” at get over the fact people are passionate about something. Maybe next time you are sad about something i should shout that at you. Being sad would hurt your precious male pride right?

  • The thing about sport is that if you actually get invested in it, it can give you some of the greatest emotional highs, but at the cost of some of the worst lows; and grand finals are indeed worst, where 20 years later, you are still subjected to replays showing how that day your team lost was one of the greatest finishes of all time… Sigh. Though fortunately, yes, you do realise that it is ultimately just a game, and that you’re kinda fortunate to be upset about something that doesn’t really matter, rather than dwelling on some of the horrible things of actual consequence in the world.

    There’s no coincidence that sport is often described as a religion – it’s not always rational, but can provide fellowship and great comfort if you let it. The “get over it” crowd are unlikely to ever understand. Much like I don’t understand religion 🙂 They just need to, well, get over the fact that people have strong emotional reactions to sport!

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