Fantasy Presidents: A Simulation That Makes Research More Exciting

by Dave Bridgefantasy

Using the core principles of fantasy sports, I propose the notion of using fantasy drafts in political science classrooms. I begin by introducing the basic concept of fantasy leagues. Then I describe an original 30-minute game in which students draft US presidents and “compete” against one another along a number of dimensions. Next, I present possible writing assignments related to the game. The conclusion discusses the contributions of “Fantasy Presidents”—namely, it offers interesting essay prompts and informed discussions, and it encourages students to take the initiative in their own learning.

In 2013, more than 33.5 million Americans played fantasy sports. Forbes estimates that it is a $40 billion to $70 billion industry (Goff 2013). Resembling many other booming economic ventures, it is expanding globally. For instance, in England, at least 5.5 million people play fantasy sports; in Canada, 3.1 million play. It is integrated—if not enabled—by the Internet and social media. The fastest-growing demographic is youth: 20% of 12- to 17-year-olds play fantasy sports, compared to 13% of adults. College students also are a target demographic as the popularity of fantasy sports drives rapidly increasing participation rates (Seifried et al. 2007 ). 1 Fantasy sports are a part of contemporary culture; for that reason, they make an innovative teaching tool. In this article, I introduce “Fantasy Presidents,” an original game based on drafting teams composed of US presidents. The game is brief, fun, and educational. Specifically, preparing, writing about, and debriefing a classroom fantasy draft provide useful ways to generate excitement about political science research.

Fantasy Presidents: A Simulation That Makes Research More Exciting, by Dave Bridge / PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 48 / Issue 04 / October 2015, pp 621-62 / Log in to APSA to view full article.