Good sportsmanship is supposed to be taught in Little League, but the parents sometimes ruin it. The end result: Roger Clemens throwing a splintered bat toward Mike Piazza or Woody Hayes punching an opposing player. Pakistani cricket fans sure haven’t figured it out either. But you should, if you want to have fun in your online dynasty.
As it pertains to online dynasties, the most important aspect of good sportsmanship will be losing graciously. I dare say, being a gracious loser is going to be the number one key to enjoying your dynasty; that is, if you aren’t so good that you dominate everybody you play.
Bear with me for a moment as I outline the outcome of a typical offline dynasty so we can compare it with the likely outcome of an online dynasty.
Win…win…win…win…win…win…win…win…win…win…win…win…wi n…win (National Championship) win…win…win…win…win…win…win…LOSS, accompanied by a broken controller and angry ranting on a message board about how the computer “cheated” to come from behind for the win.
For all of our talk about realism on the message boards, many of us sure don’t like to lose any games, which obviously isn't very realistic. I guess if you were to be honest about it, a truly realistic game would require about 80 hours of prep time to face another team, and we'd be playing against a coach that knew of the game of football ten times better than we do. So I guess we probably don’t want actual realism! But I digress.
The tournament football gaming community offers some of the most atrocious examples of bad sportsmanship, but even in that arena, the loser is generally used to getting beaten once in awhile. And when they do, they take it like a man.
This is something that yours truly will have to learn quickly. I act like an idiot when my team plays so badly that I don’t have a chance. I don’t mind the loss after it’s all said and done, but the losing process itself really gets to me! Again, it’s the most pronounced in those games where the team comes out destined to lose. Muffed punts, fumbles when the running back was protecting the ball, dropped wide-open passes and so on. These situations will be the most tempting for people like me to fly off the handle.
I lose all the time in my offline dynasties, but somehow I tell myself the storyline is better because of them. When I play online, I haven’t typically had the same perspective.
In online dynasty leagues, an occasional cuss word will probably be overlooked, but if a league member is incapable of having a good time after a loss, then the user will probably wear out his or her welcome in the league pretty fast. And what if *gasp* that user turns out to be among the worst players in the league. What if that user loses most of his or her games every year, and can’t recruit good players? How about getting online to be a year-after-year doormat? Is that user just going to quit?
My point is, when you go into an online dynasty, be in it for the long haul. Be open minded about what the outcome is going to be, because I guarantee you, not everybody in the league is going to win 12 games a year. It’s going to take some lab time, some studying of your playbook, some thinking on the fly, and noting tendencies to play well against other players rather than the computer. But most importantly, it might end up taking some humility, respect for your fellow players, and occasionally pushing the mute button on your microphone.
It seems to me that a few keys to being a good sport about losing are:
1) Don’t be afraid to give the other player credit. When your opponent makes a great play, don’t immediately blame your team or even lament the horrible call you made. It might have just been a great play made by the other person. And even if it wasn’t, it never hurts to make the other person feel good about it. It might even build up your equity if you’re like me and will inevitably have a meltdown later on.
2) Shed the “best on my block” attitude before joining a league. A lot of us are the best on our block; it’s because we care about the game more than most people do. And, in case you haven't noticed, there are quite a few blocks across the country. If we go into it with a little humility, we might just carry some of it through during a loss.
3) Keep your eyes on the real prize – having fun. The interaction with the people in your league can be a wonderful thing. Appreciate the fact that you live in a great country (I'm looking at you too, Canada and abroad) and have the free time and money to waste on such things as videogames and video football leagues. Isn’t it great?
4) Look at the positive aspect to a loss. It’s generally accepted that when you lose, or are challenged, you learn more than when you win easily. That’s just how life works. Learn the lessons and apply them for the next time.
I’d love it if some of you guys who are reading this article posted your own keys and tips to accepting a loss graciously, so that those like me could learn a few things.