On the future of contests


Every so often, we get a comment on our site that inspires a whole new posting. Last week, for instance, a reader from Portland who goes by the handle "natlynn" left a comment on my funny sounding words/bobbleheads Weekend Word Wrap post. She wanted to alert us to the fact that the Portland Beavers, a minor league baseball team in her hometown, recently held a competition in which they invited anyone named Bob L. Head to apply for a chance to be immortalized with a bobblehead giveaway made in the winner's image.

Humored, yet bemused, I actually went to the Beavers' website to clarify. As it turns out, natlynn wasn't just bobbling our heads. Not only did the contest exist, but dozens of men named Bob L. Head from all over the country applied! The Beavers narrowed it down to three finalists, who they profiled on their website and asked the country to cast votes.

From the press release on the Beavers' site:

Backed by a wealth of regional and national media exposure, almost 30,000 votes were cast over the two-week period. Bob Leroy Head [Maquoketa, Iowa] received 14,886 votes (51 percent), Bob Lee Head (Evansville, Ind.) got 9,855 (34 percent) and Bob Louis Head (Vallejo, Calif.) tallied 4,368 (15 percent).

Besides a smile, what I take away from this crazy story is this: contests like these could've never existed before the explosion of the Internet, which got me wondering "“ what kind of contests might exist in another 25 years?

While some version of the Olympic games might be the longest running contest in Western Civilization (they began in 776 BC), and Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld and gangs' "Contest," might be the most riotous in history, what will we think up next? When technology makes it possible to __________what???? It's hard to think up the next big development in contest design. But that doesn't mean we can't try, right?