By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Rarely does the nation become more enthralled with a single series of events as it does with a presidential election. It trumps everything, save one event: the NCAA basketball tournament every spring-a time many fans refer to as March Madness.
This year proved to be no different.
Just a mere eight months ago, I saw people who cared nothing about college basketball filling out their bracket with their predictions of who would win each game in each round. People who don’t care about the election do not get involved just for fun-they don’t vote.
Trying to bring some of that same March Madness excitement to the table for the election, I decided to instigate a March-Madness-type competition for the political and nonpolitical junkies.
In an attempt at clairvoyance unmatched since those days in early March, I set out to predict how each state would vote in the election, and then proceeded to convince several other staff members to do the same.
It was our very own office pool-minus the pool of money of course-and it made election day that much more exciting.
My office was complete with a 3-foot-by-2-foot map of the United States, and I secured a box of 64 colored crayons that would make any third-grader jealous. I only had the intention of using two of the colors, however, and each state was colored either red or blue as the results came in on election night.
I saw an enthusiasm for the election that was supposedly rare for voters my age, and I began thinking about how to move this out of the Optimist office.
You want to encourage more voters 18-24 to become involved in the election? List presidential election as one of the choices between football and basketball as a fantasy sport on Yahoo.com.
Not only would it inspire excitement for the election, but voters might actually study trends and issues before filling out their election map. Draft day cheat sheets of rankings and players’ game statistics could be replaced with the latest poll results from each state.
In basketball you have the occasional joker who picks his bracket based on the teams with the best mascot or that have the closest proximity to his hometown. It pains me every year to lose to that guy.
What better way to inspire more involvement in the election than using that bit of embarrassment as an advantage? So many more people would educate themselves about the election because no one wants to lose to those who base their predictions solely on which state has the best state flower.
So maybe my prediction of a 310-228 electoral victory for Bush was a bit like the basketball fan who picks his hometown team to win it all. Instead of saying my prediction was last in the office pool, I like to say that I only missed five states. But I’m already thinking about 2008.
I want to see Fantasy Election leagues springing up across the country.