Brace yourselves, preseason predictions are about to clog the internet

Column: @Hayward_AdamK

It is just about that time of the off-season when every man, woman and dog who loves their footy, posts their predictions all over the internet for the upcoming AFL and NRL seasons.

Predictions are my favourite posts to read in the weeks and months leading up to round one. The ‘which team will finish where’ and ‘who will win the Brownlow or Dally M medal’ are perhaps the most debated footy-related subjects on social media.

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Sports journalists love writing their prediction articles. It gives them a sense of relevancy, some much needed attention after their four-weeks holiday and it allows them to freely express their opinions – perhaps with a sprinkling of bias – on which players will succeed and fail, and where they envision teams will finish on the ladder.

Of course, they will put a great deal of thought into their ladder predictions e.g., form from the previous season, roster strength, recruitment, coaching staff, injuries etc.

I have a sneaky feeling there is a sense of pride, and perhaps a bit of pressure of living up to that ‘expert’ tag they give themselves by ensuring there is as much logic behind each prediction as possible.

But they also need to make at least one bold prediction to make it thought provoking and interesting. There is a good chance a marquee player will flop; and an underrated player will shine. We may see bottom teams surprise a few doubters and top teams may fail to live up to expectations.

The Gabba, Brisbane

As we look forward to those predictions’ posts clogging our news feeds, let us ignore the predictions made before Christmas, because nobody takes those seriously. I never knew there was a certain time frame that must be adhered to for anyone planning to post their preseason predictions online.

Predictions posted in early December are automatically dismissed for being “too early”. And for those who posted their predictions in November; you need to log out immediately and go to bed.

I will hold out on writing my predictions for next season here on The Sporting Post until late January as I would like to analyse what others have predicted, and their reasoning behind their predictions before formulating my own opinions.

Prior to the 2018 NRL season, I got in a bit too early and wrote an article predicting the Parramatta Eels and the North Queensland Cowboys would both not only finish in the top four, but they would also meet in the grand final. The Cowboys ended up finishing 13th and the Eels… dead last.

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At the conclusion of that season, somebody shared my predictions article to a popular Facebook page, and everyone was having great time in the comments section at my expense. I felt like I had brought shame and disgrace to my family and my village – but it was all in good fun. The lesson learnt is to never call myself an “expert” and wind up in one of those “When the experts get it wrong” articles.

It also got me asking myself what the point is of sharing my predictions. I boldly predict the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Titans will be the 2021 AFL and NRL premiers and that is more than enough for 10% of my readers to agree with me and hit the like button, and for the other 90% questioning whether I was under the influence of illegal substances before opening my laptop and spreading what they deem to be misinformation.

That said, it is important to remember, preseason predictions are merely subjective opinions that are neither right nor wrong. So, let us all be kind to each other, have respectful debates and conversations then at the end of the season, we can all look back and hold those to account who got their terrible, misguided and foolish predictions catastrophically wrong.

Feature Image: Ladders from afl.com.au and nrl.com