Every year, just before the start of the NRL season, one of my mates always tries to talk me into joining one of the Fantasy Leagues.
I’ve never fully understood the lure of fantasy leagues. While I would be lying if said I’ve never had a fantasy, none of them have involved groups of big, boofy blokes hitting each other.
So I asked my mate to explain the rules.
It’s simple, he said. First, you have a salary cap of dickety-two million dollars, and you have to buy a squad of 25 players.
I asked if it was a bit late and would all the good players already be taken?
No, he said, players can be in as many fantasy squads as they are picked in. I suppose that’s why call it fantasy.
Next, he said, your squad must contain 2 fullbacks, 7 wingers/centres, 2 5/8s, a red head, 2 left handers and 3 players who identify as being from a non English speaking background, and a partridge in a pear tree.
You can’t have more than 4 Virgos in your squad.
So, I asked, once I’ve picked my squad, how do they work out who wins, since my players may be from up to 13 different teams?
That’s easy, he said, your players are allocated points based on their performance for their team.
They get points for scoring a try, kicking a goal, making a tackle, smiling at the camera, not abusing their spouses etc.
And they lose points for missing tackles, dropping the ball, not mentioning the team sponsor in post match interviews or for picking their nose while on camera.
At the end of the game, you add all the points, divide by the square root of the players birthday, deduct half their IQ, and you have your result.
My problem with these fantasy leagues is that they are all based on statistics and numbers, which are not always indicative of true value and performance.
I’ve always been a bit of a sports purist. I love the sport for the contest and the result, rather than individual stats, which can often be misleading
I went to the South Sydney Rabbitohs game against the Gold Coast Titans.
After about 25 minutes, Souths centre, Braidon Burns suffered a severe injury and had to be replaced.
With no outside backs on the bench, coach Bennett was forced to use Kyle Turner in the Centres.
Turner is primarily a prop forward, or a middle forward, who had played only two first grade games in the last 12 months.
He is used to playing 30 to 40 minutes, but was thrust into an unfamiliar role where he had to play close to 60 minutes.
Turner did an exceptional job in both attack and defence, but this will not be recognised by the super coach points.
One person who would have noticed Turner’s big effort would have been coach Wayne Bennett.
Many years ago, I coached my son’s hockey team when he was about 13.
The team made the grand final against a team that included a young star who was already featuring in state teams, and would go on to represent Australia at under 21 level.
Alex was brilliant, and had all the skills plus some. He was also a polite young man.
We were on a hiding to nothing. The only chance we had was to try to keep him out of the game.
So I took a chance and put two defenders on Alex all game.
One of our boys, Terry, was not a gifted player, but when I asked him to mark Alex all game, and told him that he probably would not see much of the ball, Terry was happy to do whatever the coach asked.
For three quarters of the game, Terry stuck to Alex like a Roman street vendor. This allowed us to keep him in check and the score was level.
But, with 10 minutes to go, Terry copped an injury and had to be replaced.
I told his replacement that his job was to mark Alex, but the other kid was more interested in chasing glory.
Now that Alex was only being marked by one player, his natural skills blew us apart and we lost by 3 goals.
If we had won the game, I would have awarded Terry the Man of the Match, because he did exactly what he asked.
Team sports are just that, a TEAM sport.
When you play a team sport, you have a role to play, and whether or not you’re a striker, or defender — you are just as important.
Sometimes, things like supercoach don’t recognise this.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!