Sunday, September 6, 2009

Budget Ball on the Mall: try this at home too!

BudgetBall sounds like a great game: a fast-paced game loosely based on volleyball with periodic "Reality Television"-style breaks in which teams hold strategy sessions and decide whether to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains or vice versa.

The game requires minimal equipment (a volleyball and a field or gym space and some easy to scrounge optional but fun props like silly hats, oven mitts, or a plastic easter egg.) It seems like a really terrific and fun way to improve financial literacy. If your economics club, sports team, service club, fraternity, sorority, or--at Union College, your Minerva House--is looking for a fun and educational activity that can be done on a shoestring--this could be it! It could also be a great outreach activity for college students who want to work with high school seniors studying economics.

Budgetball is an active sport of quick passes, tough defense, and bold comebacks designed to increase awareness of the national debt and reward strategic thinking and collaborative problem-solving around the issues of fiscal responsibility.

Budgetball is an innovative sport that combines fiscal strategy and physical play. The game involves competitive play that highlights the relationships between debt, savings, interest and taxes. Budgetball gives players a compressed, real-time, physical experience in managing assets that applies to balance sheets of any size - from personal finance to the Federal budget.

The game is played between two teams of 6 to 10 people on an area roughly the size of a basketball court. In order to win, players must use compromise and persuasion to achieve a consensus about debt and savings. During a game, teams score points by passing the ball to a player in the end zone, while strategically managing their Budgetbucks. Budgetbucks may be borrowed, earned or spent by taking advantages such as an extra offensive player or by taking team sacrifices such as wearing oven mitts during play. To win, a team must creatively and responsibly use debt and savings to gain sufficient advantage over their opponents and score more points.

The photos in the post show "celebrity teams" of government staffers and interns played this game along with college teams on the Mall in Washington DC this summer. Here's the team roster from that celebrity game.

Team Roster
Stress Tested (US Treasury Department)
Budget Hawks (House Budget Committee)
Fiscal Fanatics (Brookings Institution, Concord Coalition, Concerned Youth of America)
Debt Busters (Urban Institute)
Baseliners (Office of Management and Budget)
Money Makers (Philander Smith College) (University of Miami)
PGPF & NAPA Real Reformers (Peterson Foundation and National Academy of Public Administration)

The University of Miami team won!

The complete rules and other details are available here.

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