I attend church at St. NFL every Sunday during fall and winter. This year, I've started playing fantasy football with a distinguished group of fellow congregants. Fantasy football involves picking a group of professional football players and using the statistics they produce in any given week to try to overpower the group of players picked by someone else. It is an effective way to make casual fans of the game research and memorize statistics, and to pay more attention to what is happening on the field in games we wouldn't ordinarily care about.

Football needs something like this to distract fans from the fact that watching a game on television mostly involves sitting through a nearly-endless series of boring three-and-outs, each followed by a grouping of overly-loud commercials. Every once in a while, some overpaid showoff will temporarily break up the monotony by making a stupid mistake in the red zone that causes his team to settle for a field goal.

Watching football only tends to yield positive results for fans about 10 percent of the time, which puts it in the same entertainment category as local City and County Commission meetings. These generally involve sitting through hours of inane questions and irrelevant discussions, with actual votes on policy or anything of substance happening about 10 percent of the time.

The main difference between a football game and a Commission meeting is that Commissioners have much more potential to injure people. Also, viewers of football games are constantly being updated with statistics and facts about players, while City and County Commissioners seem to count on their constituents not knowing what they’re really doing and what it will really cost.

This must be why area residents seem to know more about football than they do about local politics, and why football games are more closely-watched than meetings or candidate forums. If as many people showed up to vote in this area as watch the Super Bowl every year, local politics would likely take on a different tone.

So, my idea to get people to understand what is happening in the city and the county as well as they understand football is to make the two as similar as possible. I propose that local residents put together a Fantasy Commission league.

Small groups of local voters could get together, with each person choosing a line-up consisting of City or County Commissioners. Players would then excitedly show up at or tune in to City and County Commission meetings, watching to see which of their Commissioners of choice racked up points in that week's match-up with their opponent's Commissioners. 

The point system of this game would consist of measuring which Commissioner:

  • asked the highest number of  irrelevant hypothetical questions
  • unnecessarily increased the length of any given meeting
  • called for the greatest number of executive sessions
  • acted the most condescendingly to employees, department heads or those who make public comments,
  •  voted on a measure that actually passes the most often. 

The more often the Commissioner votes in the majority, the more points that the voter who picked that Commissioner for their Fantasy Commission team would get. Extra points could be given for those Commissioners who made the initial motion on measures that pass, while slightly fewer points would be given for the Commissioner who seconds a motion that officially puts a proposal up for vote.

People who play Fantasy Commission would have to be cautious that the Commissioners they picked weren’t likely to get caught up in any scandals or quit for better jobs in other locales.

If more citizens would engage in Fantasy Commission leagues, area voters would actually care about local politics. Imagine how great our community would be if Commission meetings were filled with spectators cheering on the actions of their favorite Commissioners, and paying attention to what local politicians wanted to do. T-shirts could be made and sold representing the Commissioners, with profits going towards the sweeping of streets, high-speed Internet to residents, or other needed services that are currently left unfunded.

If more local voters would play this game, the decisions being made (or not being made) might actually matter. The difference between winning and losing a Fantasy Commission game could hinge on a single vote by our City and County Commissioners. It would seem like there were actually stakes attached to local political decisions. That might make people more likely to be involved with these meetings, instead of ignoring them to pay attention to football.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, or requests for advice in drafting a Fantasy Commission team to brian@chanute.com

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