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In which John again considers the futility of effort while learning about how to write from watching AFC Wimbledon play football (or soccer, depending on your worldview).
Support AFC Wimbledon with a beautiful dftba scarf:

Here's the video I couldn't show you in this video:

Videos included in this one include this one:

And this one from 2013:

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Good morning Hank it's Tuesday.

So as you may be aware you are the training kit sponsor of America's favourite third tier English football team, AFC Wimbledon; Wait, I feel a camera 2 side-note coming on. Side-note: you may not like sports but the story I'm about to tell you is not about sports.

It's about whether hope is the correct response to the human condition. Okay, so at the end of each season, the 4 worst teams in English football's third tier are demoted to the fourth tier. Being among these places is known as being in the "relegation zone" and, you know, it is obviously undesirable.

You don't want to have a fourth tier English football team, because then, you gotta go to places like Milton Keynes to play your football. Right, so AFC Wimbledon entered the relegation zone near the beginning of this season in October and then, they stayed there. In fact, for most of the season, AFC Wimbledon had been in last place and relegation felt inevitable.

I mean the truth is, even in the third tier a lot of teams are owned by really rich owners. AFC Wimbledon, meanwhile, are owned by their fans, each of whom pay about 30 bucks a year to be owners. For context, some of the clubs in the third tier have an annual budget that is more than 10 times larger than our annual budget, so how are we going to compete?

Here's how bad things were. The club got a new manager and in January, brought in a couple new players, including the 21 year old goalkeeper named Aaron Ramsdale and then, Wimbledon went on this incredible run, winning 5 out of 6 games. After which, we were still in last place.

The effort was noble, but almost guaranteed to be futile. Almost guaranteed. Almost.

Somehow, Wimbledon kept winning. In fact, we've only lost 1 of our last 11 games. That 21 year old goalkeeper turned out to be a wizard.

Our defense started clicking. We started scoring the kinds of goals that are the glory of our past - scrappy, ugly goals. And then, on Saturday, after 189 days in the relegation zone, AFC Wimbledon beat Wycombe 2 - 1 to move into the dizzying heights of 19th place with 1 game to go.

It still might all fall apart of course. We likely have to win or tie that last game in order to stay up, but we've got a chance! If Wimbledon do stay up, it will be one of the greatest great escapes in English football history, and I think I know why it has happened.

The players kept playing for each other and for their community as if the situation were not hopeless, even when it was. That is my favourite thing about humans. We are relentless.

We don't need know when we're licked. Even when we should give up, we don't. It said everything to me that when Wimbledon scored a last second goal against lead-leading Luton Town a couple weeks ago, the players ran immediately to, and in some cases, into the stands.

It reminded me of 2013, when Jack Midson scored a penalty in the last game of that season to keep Wimbledon in the fourth tier, and then celebrated by borrowing a fan's hat. Now of course, I know that every reprieve is only temporary. To borrow a line from Hank Williams, you'll never get out of this world alive.

Even if the miracle lasts through Saturday, it won't last forever. But I don't need forever. Lately, I've been frustrated by how much effort is for nothing like, over the last few years, I've worked so much on stories that I eventually had to abandon and that's painful, because you want work that you put into the world to have been for something.

But I think that might be the wrong way to conceive of effort. Earlier in that Luton Town game, Aaron Ramsdale made an absolutely ridiculous save on a deflected shot. Most of the time, scrambling to try to tip away that deflected shot won't mean anything.

Either you won't get there, or you'll lost the game anyway. But you can't know which time putting in the effort will work, so you put the effort in every time. That's what I learned about writing from football.

Hank, if you want to support AFC Wimbledon, you can get this awesome scarf that even says "DFTBA Nerdfighteria" on it. There's a link in the doobly-doo. Also, if you're in or around Bradford this week, head over to the game and scream your head off on my behalf.

God, I'm so nervous. Alright Hank, I'll see you on Friday.