It is nearing the end of the season for the teams in the Australian Football League, and despite looking shaky a few weeks ago, my mob- the Melbourne Demons- look like they just might scrape into the finals series following two come from behind victories.
I was at the MCG watching last nights game, and it was bloody exciting. A really remarkable and stirring victory for the men in red and blue. Just goes to show what you can do if you never give up and stick to a plan.
After round 12 (the halfway point of the year) we had won 9 games and lost only three, and were sitting comfortably in second place on the ladder. We then managed to lose the next 7 games in a row, and tumbled down the ladder to 11th.
How does that happen? How does a team that is capable of winning 9 out of 12 games then lose 7 in a row? Of course the media commentators, supporters and other loungeroom experts (like me) offer up plenty of opinions and reasons, but who really knows. According to Freakonmics author Steven Levitt, it might be nothing more than bad luck:
"It seems like, when a team loses several games in a row, it is so extreme that it can't reasonably be the result of randomness. Clearly coaches, sports writers and most fans believe that to be true. How often have you heard of a coach holding a closed-door meeting to try to turn a team around? But if you look at it statistically, you expect big losing streaks to occur, simply by randomness, about as often as they do."
He uses the example of the Kansas City Royals, and in typical Levitt fashion explores what the chances are of a Major League team having a long loosing streak, and even links it to his Ipod Shuffle (really!). He concludes that a big losing streak will occur once every decade or so:
"So, one doesn't need to resort to explanations like "lack of concentration," being "snakebit," or "demoralized" to explain why teams lose so many games in a row, just that they are a bad team getting some bad luck."
I won't say that Melbourne is a bad team, but maybe we were just having some bad luck! Hopefully we are due for some good luck.