Pool Time

I didn’t watch a National Hockey League game all season. My hometown team, the Ottawa Senators, finished last in the league. Why would I join a playoff hockey pool?

I asked myself that when I got the email. Years ago I took part in a pool, so now I’m on a list. Thousands of dollars in prizes to be won. That can be a powerful incentive.

In the past my problem has been that I lose interest. The hockey playoffs last 10 weeks. If there are no Canadian teams still involved, I lose interest. I don’t care which American town wins the Stanley Cup.

This year though I realized the pool was simpler. I could download an app onto my phone. I wouldn’t have to remember to make my choices, there would be a reminder. Did I mention there were thousands of dollars in prizes to be won?

I downloaded the app, but I don’t think I’ll see any of that prize money. At the end of the first playoff round I was a solid 673rd in the standings. Probably tied with a hundred other people.

Statistically I guess I now have as much chance of winning the pool as I have of being elected President of the USA. (Since I was not born in the US, I have no chance of being elected president unless there was a constitutional amendment. But since they didn’t pass one for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is unlikely they will pass one for me.)

In some ways my standing in the pool comes as a shock. As a Canadian I like to think I know something about hockey, even though I was never very good as a player.

What I have realized though is that there is more than just an accident of birth involved here. I didn’t watch any games, didn’t look at the league standings. I know Ottawa finished last. I have no idea what team finished first. I have no idea which teams had great seasons and which ones barely scraped into the playoffs. My picks were a combination of random chance and patriotism. No wonder I was 673rd.

I picked the Canadian teams to win their matches, even though it has been 26 years since a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. Every year I expect the Cup to come home. Every year I am disappointed. This year is no different.

All the Canadian teams were eliminated in the first round. I know that means a long summer for Canada, and renewed hope when the 2019-2020 hockey season starts. But what does it mean for me?

I’ve lost interest. Missed a couple of days’ picks and dropped in the standings. Should I bother to continue making picks in the hockey pool and hope for a miracle? Or should I delete the app from my phone now before I fall even further behind? At this point I have no idea.

Maybe I should join a baseball pool. That season started a month ago, I think. I have no idea how any of the teams are doing. I couldn’t possibly be worse at picking winners in baseball than I am in hockey, could I?

Where do I sign up?

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