Buckeye banter

by Trey Nosrac

Idling at a red light, I sighed and said, “Man, finding new harness racing fans is impossible.”

David, my passenger in the Lexus, answered, “Not impossible, difficult. Do you think it’s easier to get new people to attend the opera, take up chess, or learn to foxtrot? Don’t feel sorry for yourself; other types of sports and games have lesser products to promote. In the long run, everyone must restock the herd.”

“I have a few ideas.”

“You always have ideas.”

“It’s the voices in my brain, they ain’t real, but they keep talking.”

“Let’s hear this one.”

“Okay. Every November, I gather with a dozen of my cohorts around the warmth of a gigantic flat screen to watch Ohio State play Michigan in the big annual football game. We take turns hosting. The host will carefully remove breakables and children from the premises. Designated drivers arranged, and neighbors alerted because we go a tad overboard with a bacchanalian display of gluttony, guzzling, gloating, and in our case, a little gambling. I’d invite you, but the party 2020 is one of the million fun things canceled by the virus.”

“I’ll take a rain check. What does this have to do with horseracing?”

“One of our mindless rituals at the party is a simple gamble called the Buckeye Banker. Before the opening kickoff, we each toss $5 into a bowl next to the television. Our host, who we refer to as the banker, places folded slips of paper with numbers from zero to nine into an old cigar box. He holds the box above his head and circulates the room while each player picks out a slip of paper. We open our slip of paper, glance at our number, and stuff it into our pocket.”

“For what reason?”

“When the referee blows the whistle to signal the end of the first quarter, and they go to 27 commercials, the person holding the numbered slip of paper that matches the last digit of the total number of points scored to this point in the game is declared the winner. The Buckeye Banker dramatically pays the winner $45 dollars. The winner gloats and occasionally does a crazy dance.”

“And you and your pals find this wildly entertaining?”

“Hell yeah, we put on quite a show. Then we refold our little numbered slips of paper, return them to the cigar box, and toss another five dollars into the bowl for the second quarter of the game, the third, and the fourth. The most a player can lose is twenty dollars, and the most a player can win is one hundred eighty dollars. There is no thinking involved, probably a plus since our logic fades with each quarter.”

He said, “Your Buckeye Banker gamble merely enhances the football game?”

“Absolutely. Why couldn’t the Buckeye Banker fun be used for horse races? You know, the host of a party could match the entries in a harness horse race.”

David nodded and took over the reins as if he was back in his days as a corporate media mogul, “The ability to livestream your races to flatscreen televisions should have opened more doors to your sport. Your races should all be in HD, and your product needs an upgrade. The more real-time horse races are in front of people, the more your chances of growing your audience will improve.”

“Hey, dude, this is my idea.”

He chuckled and said, “It’s a good one, showing live harness races to people who do not know a trotter from a tomahawk or a pacer from a petunia is a simple proposition in 2020. A horseracing version of the Buckeye Banker gamble could be on the table for enterprising hosts to lure visitors. It’s not rocket science to ask guests to look up from their martinis and watch a race for fun, hoping to make a few dollars. I guess you could consider using the streamed races as a party game that is an upgrade from charades.”

“Charades, what the hell kind of parties do you go to?”

He just kept rolling, “The best-case scenario is that when a person wins a race or two, they ask you about the sport. You gently guide them along. There is a chance that a desperately needed new fan will be grown. There are undoubtedly other ways that astute people could use the simple Buckeye Banker concept more productively or creatively.”

“Well, Techman, you are getting carried away. But the bottom line is that my crowd finds tremendous enjoyment in holding a numbered scrap of paper while hoping that the last digit of the football scoreboard total is the same as the number on their slip of paper. Watching a horse race is a much better snippet of entertainment.”

“Agreed, everybody in your sport should consider it a duty to host a party with a bowl, an old cigar box, and a flatscreen.”

I smiled, “And alert the neighbors.”