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AFL and the Law of Relative Misery

By SportSeptember, 2009December 13th, 20232 min read

For those of you who have never heard of it (and for those who have) the “Law of Relative Misery” is best illustrated with the following story:

One day at work, you are called in by your boss, who tells you that you are doing a fantastic job, and have just been granted a raise, and will now be earning $200k per annum. You return back to your desk, and tell your friend next to you of your good news. You are on top of the world. A few minutes later, she is called into the boss, and comes back a short time later with the good news that she too has been granted a raise, and will now be earning $250k per annum. And now, you are miserable.

Last night, after the Blues gave up a huge lead in the final quarter and were overrun by a surging Brisbane, the trash talk on Facebook between Carlton and Collingwood was running hot, as the Pies’ supporters (and everyone else) gloated over Carlton’s loss.

But less than twenty four hours later, Collingwood too had succumbed, and it was the turn of the previously miserable Carlton supporters to forget their loss very quickly, and to dish it out to the losers. In the wake of the results, the debate now intensified between the two groups of supporters as to which team is better (or worse), and which is closer to a premiership.

The record will show that this weekend, Carlton and Collingwood didn’t play each other. They both played and lost. For a Richmond supporter who knows very well where his team stands, it was mildly gratifying to see two arch rivals both get beaten. But from the post-match chatter between the Carlton and Collingwood supporters, you’d think they played a blinder, and you’d be hard pressed to know who won. At least not in the battle between the two in the war of Relative Misery.

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