How to run a ‘Super Bowl Squares/Boxes’ office pool without an, umm, office


Printable grid from Etsy.com available for download for $2.50Image: EtsyWhether you call it “squares” or a “box pool,” the betting game that takes place every year is a staple of offices and local bars for Super Bowl weekend. COVID, that dastardly villain, has attempted to lay waste to many traditions in the sports world, but I will not let it take my squares. Like everything else in this pandemic era, we simply must adapt and create a new way to enjoy the things that we love. What the hell are “squares”?I’m glad you asked. Squares is a betting system where a 10×10 grid is built. You buy as many squares within that grid as you’d like. After squares are purchased, the numbers along the outside of the grid are randomized. Those numbers represent the last digit of the score from each team. The scores that line up with the square you bought are your winning numbers. Most people will have payouts set for each quarter and also for the end of the game. Many sites have printable grids available, like Etsy.com. Here’s a template from FanDuel:Image: FanDuelIn a “normal year.” you’d just print this out and put it in your office break room, or behind the counter at your local bar. People would walk up and put their name in the squares they want and give their money to whoever is running it. Since we can’t do that this year, we’re going to need some other options.I’ve been doing a virtual squares game with family and friends for a few years. We run ours on a facebook group, which works okay. The picture of the grid gets posted, with every square numbered. People comment with the squares they want to buy, and once the grid is full, the person running it does a live video to draw the numbers to fill in the outside of the grid. A Facebook group is perfect for the prerequisite trash talking, which as we know is half the fun. G/O Media may get a commissionIn terms of handling the money, we fortunately live in a time where it’s as simple as Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal to send money to someone, no matter where they are. (Pro tip: Do not mention gambling or bets when sending money through apps.)Another option, while not sexy, is the gool ol’ Google sheets method. It would be easy enough to create a grid, email a sharing link to your friends, coworkers, or family members, and allow everyone to write their own names in the squares they want to buy. Pretty simple. Sometimes simple is good.If you want to get fancier, I found a website called Gridiron Games. It’s free to join but does require you to create an account, and I went through the process of putting this site through its paces. It’s super user friendly, takes just a second to sign up, you can send an invite link to whoever is going to be in your pool. Just like the old paper method, people can select and mark their own squares. As a “commissioner” of the event, you also have the option of marking squares as being paid or not, which is very helpful for tracking buy-ins. There are a number of ways to go about it. No matter how you plan to enjoy your annual squares game, don’t let the need to adjust stop you from playing. After all, trash talking your coworkers/friends/family members is half the fun of Super Bowl Sunday. .

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How EA Sports rebooted its college football franchise without NCAA licensing


Members of the Crimson Tide sit down around a game Madden in 2019, in the absence of an EA Sports college football release to play.Photo: APThe near eight-year cries for college football’s return to our video game consoles were answered earlier this week. EA Sports announced, initially in very few words, that college football was returning to the brand for a game to be made in the near future. Notably, EA Sports avoided placing the four letters ‘NCAA’ anywhere in its announcement or subsequent press release.In ESPN’s report, Michael Rothstein and Dan Murphy noted that the NCAA rules don’t need any changes for EA Sports to proceed with an official title.“Current NCAA rules prohibit EA Sports from paying players to use their names, images, and likenesses in the game,” they write. “If those rules are still in effect when the game is released, EA Sports plans to include real details such as team names, mascots, and uniforms but not anything that would resemble the real players on those rosters. EA Sports announced it would stop making its college football game in 2013 shortly before the company agreed to pay part of a reported $40 million to former college players to settle a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The lawsuit argued that it was illegal for EA Sports to sell a game with characters that looked strikingly similar to real athletes without paying those athletes.”Forbes sports and gaming journalist Brian Mazique told Deadspin that the absence of “NCAA” in the game’s title will not affect the product’s release, because they’ve already signed a deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company instead.“EA secured the CLC license, which gives them access to over 200 schools’ logos, uniforms, signature celebrations, and pageantry,” Mazique told Deadspin. “In fact, the absence of the [NCAA] license could create even more freedom for developers to allow fans to craft their own custom postseason structure. 16-team or maybe even 32-team playoff formats. Perhaps even a return to a BCS-style system, though it would be named something different.” G/O Media may get a commissionThe creativity is at least partly what made the NCAA Football franchise so popular to begin with. It also explains the euphoria surrounding its pending return, says NBA 2K League correspondent and HQ Trivia host Jeff Eisenband.“Before online play and esports really took off, NCAA Football had one of the most robust dynasty modes in sports video games,” Eisenband told Deadspin. “Scouting, recruiting, conference realignment, schedule-making, these are things you couldn’t do in video games based around professional sports. You could turn Bowling Green into the next Alabama if you wanted.”Even with a quick YouTube or Twitch search, you’ll immediately spot numerous recent videos of people having dusted off their seventh-generation consoles (or gaming personal computer/PC) to play games or fan-favorite modes like Road To Glory or Dynasty. The fact that many of us were trapped (and perhaps still are) at home during a worldwide pandemic only added to the nostalgia, along with the fact that this announcement would’ve been even more welcome 10 months ago. Because EA Sports’ previous college football series went away after releasing NCAA Football 14 in the summer of 2013, potentially newer college sports titles missed a bulk of online play, as well as a growth in esports, which they could eventually capitalize on upon their release. Colleges have even begun building esports programs over the last few years, making the presence of a college sports video game timely. “I think online play could especially be interesting here from the collegiate level,” Eisenband added. “Could you have college esports athletes representing their schools and actually playing as the teams, featuring logos, jerseys, etc.? There are going to be some legal parameters, but there is a way to do this that benefits everyone: Student-athletes, student-gamers, the academic institutions, athletic departments, EA Sports, etc. It’s important to note this game is coming out as EA Sports College Football, not NCAA Football. That suggests the legal conversations will include a direct conversation with the players, as opposed to solely the NCAA.”There wasn’t a mention of any other pending college titles, including a possible revival of the NCAA Basketball/March Madness series, which ended in 2009 following NCAA Basketball ‘10. But Mazique adds that the also beloved (and arguably superior) College Hoops 2K series, which hasn’t produced a game since College Hoops 2K8 in 2007, is also worth monitoring. “I think the return of College Hoops 2K is a definite possibility, with 2K using EA’s approach and springboarding off the massive popularity of its NBA 2K series,” he said. “It would be the revival of another beloved college series that died out back in 2007. I’m not sure there is another collegiate sport that would carry enough of an audience to substantiate the hefty licensing fee that goes with securing the schools, though. I think College Hoops 2K is the one most would be hoping to see return.” .

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