Center & Guard: Rock, Newspaper, Scissors

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I’ve sat here for 15 minutes trying to describe what happened on the JNSports Twitter last week and I can’t find the words. So... I guess I’ll forget about being clever and just say it. I ran a virtual rock, paper, scissors tournament.

There. Not so hard after all. Except, I’m still kind of in awe of how well it went, considering it went from the planning stage to execution in less time than it took you to read this sentence.

I’d like to say that this was some grand way to drum up revenue or connect with my readers, but in reality, it just sounded fun. I’ve thought about doing a live and in-person version before, but it never went beyond the thought stage.

Something about the Twitter version resonated with people, though. I posted my initial idea at 12:48 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, with no details and really no idea how I was going to pull this off. By 10:30 that night, I had a full field of 32 competitors, all anxious to earn little more than bragging rights and maybe a Journal-News hat or mug.

The coolest thing about the list of competitors is that I knew 99 percent of them personally. Most of them were former players that I covered, with some coaches and friends mixed in.

The field skewed young, with many of them either in college or still in their 20s at least. I imagine that has a lot to do with the medium, although Twitter is starting to trend older as well. Hard telling what the field would have looked like on Snap Chat, which I do not have and scares the bejesus out of me for some reason.

With the help of my beautiful wife, I did a live selection show via Periscope on Twitter on March 20. It got 311 unique viewers. I don’t know how many people read anything I write in the print edition, but if it’s close to 311, I’m cool with that.

After posting the match-ups, the picks came streaming in. I decided to run the tournament by having each competitor in the 32-person bracket send me their selection via direct message. It went virtually flawless, with everyone figuring out the system pretty quickly.

One after one the field was whittled down to 16, with a couple match-ups decided after “overtime” due to the participants throwing the same choice. One match, between David Seabaugh and Kaiden White, two of my favorite followers of all-time, went to triple overtime before Kaiden’s rock beat David’s scissors. David would do a “press conference” later on, apologizing to all of his fans who were disappointed by his performance. It was amazing.

By 4:30 all of the picks were in and I was ready to announce the winners. Fortunately, I had some help with that as my three-year-old Charlotte was right next to me during the video. Charley Danger is a bit of a ham and once she started seeing herself on my phone, she took over the broadcast. This one got 438 views and I give her all of the credit.

The tournament continued over the next few days, with a few ties and a little bit of trash talking from the Nokomis contingent. Apparently rock, paper, scissors is a bit of an art form in Redskin Territory and several of the Skins were confident that they would be fixtures in the final four. They weren’t, but they gave it a good shot.

The final match-up would come down to Lincolnwood volleyball coach Kimberly Denney and the Journal-News’ own Bethany Martin, who ironically enough was the only one in the tournament not on Twitter. Bethany would end up winning in overtime, rock over scissors, which she celebrated (a safe distance away) in the office on Sunday night as we put the paper together.

Since I’m kind of a stat guy, I figured up how many times each choice won. Appropriately enough, paper won 15 times (newspapers aren’t dead folks), while the other two won eight times each.

To up the weird factor even more, I also did a “One Shining Moment” montage, an homage to the NCAA tournament, that looked like it was done by a third grader. It was as stupendous as it was terrible.

Ultimately, the overall winner didn’t really matter. What mattered was that we were able to think about something other than Covid-19. That’s why I’m glad to still be working at the paper during this crisis. We have an important job to get information to the public, but if we can also help people think about something else, even for a few minutes, it’s totally worth it.

You can follow the Journal-News on Twitter at @JNSports or @JournalNewsIL.

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