With an inaugural Foundation grant, the National Academy of Public Administration and Parsons School of Design’s PETLab developed Budgetball— a physical sport in which athletic skills are only part of the game. Just as important, Budgetball tests the fiscal acumen of players. Teams score by passing a ball from player to player until they cross a goal, but along the way they have to earn, save and borrow “Budgetbucks” that become critical to their final point tally. By forcing teams to hold “budget strategy sessions,” Budgetball helps to raise awareness about the federal debt and encourage discussion and debate about America’s fiscal future.
Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR hosted the first Budgetball exhibition game in March 2009. More than 80 students—about 15% of the student body—took part in a half-day tournament supported by student volunteers and more than 100 cheering spectators. Next, the game moved to the University of Miami, where over 300 students took their debt-management and savings strategies to the field playing in a fast-paced 32-team tournament. In June 2009, the winning teams from the Philander Smith and Miami campuses put their Budgetball skills to the test in the inaugural Budgetball Tournament on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The college students took on ‘mathletes,’ fiscal experts and budgeteers from the Treasury Department, Capitol Hill, the Office of Management and Budget and various think tanks. The second annual tournament will take place this year on May 19, 2010 (with a rain date of May 20).