Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chalk Player of the Free World

The Internet informed me Barack Obama had filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket. A few lunch hour clicks brought me to the "Chicago Sun-Times" Web site, where I could see the First Handicapper's picks for myself.

Obama's Final Four went as follows: Ohio State, Kansas, Duke and Pitt. Four number one seeds. Have the Marine Corps Band strike up "Hail to the Dull!" No Belmonts nor Morehead States for this Chief. Hell, no Kentuckys or UConns even. Given 10-15 minutes to engage in a little friendly sports prediction making, Obama thought it over and made the most straightforward, logical and conventionally tedious selections available on the card. He'll probably be right on two or three of them. And so what?

Many people do what Obama did. Depending on the rules of their office pools, it's the safe and sane way to stay in contention for a victory. But it doesn't usually win, because sports seldom reward cautious logical analysis. They're too messy, unpredictable and irrational. They're kind of like politics that way.

I submit that Obama's bracket tells us a great deal about his tenure as President of the United States, for good (his predecessor was a notorious hunch player, and that didn't work out as hoped) and for ill. Odds-on favorites are not often options Presidents get to choose.

Too bad Obama is a basketball fan and not a horse player. Then he'd know that chalk bettors go broke, too, just a little more slowly than other bettors.


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