Red box beats Santa this time of year

Published 11:39 pm Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Tuesday, the box will appear. It’s painted red with a graphic of a football player gleaned from a century other than this one. An oval opening appears on top of the box.

Yes, The Vicksburg Post’s football pick ’em contest is returning for another season. For decades — the exact year it started is hard to pinpoint — the Post has given readers the opportunity to pick college football games each week and then return entries for weekly and yearly cash prizes.

A full-page advertisement will start running Tuesday and appear each Tuesday throughout the football regular season. Ten games will be scattered in display ads on the page, and readers must pick the winners. The winners of each weekend’s games will be announced the following Tuesday.

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The contest also carries with it a bit of nostalgia. Readers can’t enter online, but only by buying a newspaper and filling out each pick with an ink pen, not a keyboard.

While many endeavors have gotten fancy and technological, the Post’s pick ’em contest is a throwback to a bygone, or at least going bye, era. Younger kids might be shocked to learn that they must take pen to paper for this activity. No, there is no app for that.

The contest also brings with it the pleasant thoughts of cool fall weather, exciting Saturday afternoons at the stadium or on the couch and the end of another long, sweltering summer. When that box appears, it’s the start of the best time of year.

Having never been a contestant because of work rules, I still compare my picks to the winners’. Without the difficulty of point spreads, the contest actually is fairly easy.

A few helpful hints (although each piece of advice I dish comes with the same caveat — my advice and $2.50 will get you a ride on the New York City Subway)

• Pick with the brain and not the heart. Just because you pick Nebraska over Southern Miss does not mean you are anti-Southern Miss, just that you think Nebraska will win.

• Do a bit of homework. Games appear on Tuesday and deadline for entries is Friday, so there is time to study just a bit.

• Always pick against Ole Miss. (OK, just kidding on that one)

• Hand-deliver your entry. Be nostalgic as you place that entry into the same box as your grandfather might have 45 years ago. Hey, it could have happened.

• Finally, consider donating weekly winnings to yours truly, for I would have beaten you anyway, if only they would let me participate.