Underdog pool is on for another year (but alas, without Mom)
Our post of a few days ago, seeing if we have enough interest for another year's NFL underdog pool, elicited quite a few "yes" responses. So it's official -- we are going for it! The first lines will be posted on Tuesday, September 7 -- just 11 days from now. (The first game of the season is a Thursday nighter on the 9th.)
If you e-mailed me to say you were interested, watch your own e-mail over the next few days for further instructions. For those readers who haven't thought about this yet, here's the basic lowdown: The pool would operate pretty much the same way it did last year, but this year we'd start with the very first week's regular season action. Players kiss $20 goodbye -- it all goes to charity -- and slug it out, season-long, for glory and the right to designate which charity gets the pot.
The object of the game is to pick each week one NFL underdog that's going to win its game outright. Each successful pick wins points for the player equal to the number of points by which that 'dog was predicted by the oddsmakers to lose. The player with the most points at the end of the playoffs is pool champ and gets to direct the pot to his or her favorite charity. With enough players, we can have multiple winners, and several charities can benefit, as happened last year. More than $420 went out to a couple of charities last time around, as directed by our three top finishers.
If you'd like to play, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, the official e-mail address for this year's festivities. I'll get back to you shortly.
This year's contest is dedicated to the memory of last year's third-place winner, Geno P's Mom. Geno wrote us the other day with these thoughts:
What’s life about? A longevity contest. Ask my octo-mom that, and she would tell you the lucky ones went quick while still vital, strong and mentally composed. That life becomes dreary when you’ve lost your partner and know you are in decline.Just wow. Anyway, as I said, to play this year, start by sending me an e-mail message here if you haven't already done so. It should be fun, and some good causes will get a benefit, too.
As her primary caregiver (a labor of love she would never admit to needing), I observed that her final months were consumed with missed doctor appointments and fruitless shopping trips -- going through motions which had long formed an identity but now just resulted in inappropriate purchases and the inevitable questions by me. "Do we really need an entire lemon meringue pie, and two loaves of bread?"
She longed for the sense of responsibility and accomplishment she once felt in providing for her family. Unfortunately, I was the only one near enough to visit regularly and sometimes stay in the guest room to keep her company. She was lonely but unwilling to make an effort to reach out to numerous friends and family who loved her dearly.
My biggest challenge was to recognize her dysfunction for what it was (part of the aging process) and not overreact and make her feel worse than she already did. What a sad existence near the end. My only solution was to rely on my wit to find the humor in an otherwise sad state of affairs. She was no longer a student nor a teacher but simply biding time before the inevitable.
My most satisfying moments were watching her craggy countenance break into a bright smile and hear the hearty chuckle well up from her core into a spontaneous belly laugh in response to some inane remark of mine about a shared observation.
We resolved the unnecessary food purchases by donating the excess to a local seniors food bank. She loved delivering the care packages and they appreciated receiving them. She was nothing if not a discriminating shopper and the food bank received top notch edibles from her.
When my father was still alive we would get together and make Sports Action picks on football games through the Oregon lottery. We all enjoyed the competition and occasionally won a little spare cash for the effort. We lost that shared moment when the lottery commission cancelled Sports Action because it was not as lucrative as the addictive video poker games.
When I announced to her last fall that we could once again resume Sports-Action-like betting except simpler -- picking one sure underdog winner for the week, I saw the twinkle in her eye. I would print the lineup each week and she would pick. She picked several long shots and eventually finished among the top three, winning a modest sum donated to a charity.
I cherished the look on her face when she would smile while reading the standings showing her success as one of the few women in the pool; and, at one time, leading the pack.
That experience was one of the highlights of what would prove to be the final year of her 83-year life. Thanks, Jack, for adding some joy to our struggles.