Picked to lose? Prove me wrong

Published 12:07 am Saturday, September 19, 2009

“So, you think we can compete with them?” The question from a Thorsby football player after the Rebels had just dropped a heartbreaker in their season opener to Verbena caught me by surprise.

“You just did,” I replied, fully aware of how hard the Rebels had played in a 14-6 loss, trying to win their first game since 2007.

“We used you for motivation,” coach Billy Jackson then explained, and I understood. As part of a sports column dedicated to making predictions for Week 1 of the season, I wrote, “though the Rebels will be improved this season, they won’t be able to keep up with Verbena.”

Harmless enough, right? Never underestimate the ability of high school athletes, coaches and parents to perceive a slight, even if one wasn’t intended.

This type of exchange was expected, though, when I started picking games in the newspaper. You see, the idea is to try to pick the game correctly. I could pick all the local teams to win every game, but I would frequently be wrong and no one would take the picks seriously.

So, I write what I think will happen—not what I want to happen. There’s a big difference. Of course, I would love to see all our local teams go undefeated and win state championships (though that couldn’t really happen). All those players, coaches and parents would like me more, and we would sell lots of newspapers.

If you haven’t noticed the picks yet, they no longer run as part of a sports column. Instead, they are included in the weekly high school football preview that runs each Friday. The picks can be found at the end of the story or brief about each local team’s game.

The picks have been pretty accurate so far, with 20 games picked correctly and two missed without including this week’s action. But the winner of most of the games this season has been pretty obvious. I’m sure my record will take some hits as the season progresses.

That’s expected, too, just like folks getting upset about me picking their team to lose. Always remember: I might not think your team will win, but I’ll be happy if you prove me wrong.