I can tell what you’re all thinking. Those guys in the other locker room are bigger than us. Stronger. Faster. Hell, they even got prettier cheerleaders. Moms who bake better cookies. Uncles who’re more conscious of their prejudices and are doing the work to listen and learn.

But you know what we got that they don’t? The thing that’s gonna turn this game in our favor?

Anyone? Because I’m stumped. And without some secret weapon up our sleeve—or an injury so tragic that it results in immediate cancellation and, later, a candlelit vigil—I’m positive we’re gonna get demolished.

Look, I’m not blind. Their starting lineup already committed in middle school to top D-I colleges, whereas no one on our team has visibly reached puberty, with the exception of Olivier, whose faint mustache only emphasizes the immaturity of his secondary sexual characteristics. They’re cocky showboaters, and we’re socially awkward and prone to eyelid twitches. They’re undefeated; we haven’t won a game since Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, which, now that I spoke it aloud and it’s not just in the notes app on my phone, strikes me as a weird milestone to measure time by.

A few months ago, most of you had never played this game before. Today, I see a team of nonathletes who very clearly just learned the sport and, when they repeatedly violate the most fundamental rules, raise their hands and say, “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”

The doubters call us a ragtag crew of misfits. Why’s that? Because we got a red-headed child of divorce, a kid with an asthma inhaler attached by a string to his trifocals, a girl who conned her way onto the team with a crew cut but still—sorry, I know it’s not PC—throws like a girl, and our best player is a troubled tough whose anger masks his working-class pain? Well, I got news for you: Chris—or, as he’s legally known, Christophe—actually comes from a household of two French lit professors and is simply processing, with the aid of the cognitive behavioral therapist he’s had since he was six, his older brother’s departure to Oberlin.

Nice guys finish last. You’ll definitely finish last, though in your case, it’s more of a snidely judgmental defensiveness that, due to your inherently milquetoast affect, is misperceived as niceness. In other words, you’re the worst of all worlds: timid assholes.

So what if their coach is a Hall of Fame legend? So what if I’m a substitute music teacher who was asked to coach two days before the season started and said yes for the health insurance? I’ll tell you so what: in addition to being outplayed, we’ll be badly outcoached, since my main tactic is advising you on homeopathic remedies for eczema. It’s gonna be ugly, and also filmed for a critically acclaimed HBO docuseries about massively disparate levels of athletic talent called Absolute Winners and Total Fucking Losers.

It’s real HBO, by the way, not Max. Not completely sure what the difference is, except that one still has all the prestige, and the other feels sort of bullshit.

I know none of you believe it, but I think we can take these guys—out to pizza, after we get trounced, so long as they’re not too embarrassed to be seen with us.

This game isn’t for us. It’s for our school, which is also inferior to theirs by every academic metric. And it’s not about money—we actually have way more funding than they do. We’re just less intelligent.

Now, get out there and have some fun, despite being an anhedonic bunch who are a bummer to be stuck talking to at parties, and make me proud of my accurate prediction of our historically lopsided loss.

On three: win the refs’ sympathy!

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Teddy Wayne’s new novel, The Winner, is available today. For an event schedule, click here.