GM Genius is the decision science scholarship competition and learning platform based on fantasy football from the educational nonprofit, How I Decide. The competition includes an instructional series which teaches students key decision-making and critical thinking concepts, and tests their abilities to apply these concepts in both fantasy football and their daily lives. Students ages 13 to 19 are eligible to participate and can win college scholarships and dozens of other prizes. Adults may participate, but are not eligible for prizes.
Throughout the NFL season, students will learn to become better decision makers by receiving instruction integrated in a “decision-enhanced” fantasy football game. This unique game has been specifically designed to: (1) increase the role of decision-making skills, (2) reduce the role of luck, (3) level the playing field in terms of football knowledge, and (4) deeply engage students with a fun, new way to play fantasy football. Students will be incentivized to learn the material to win scholarships and other prizes, as well as to get an edge on their peers in their personal fantasy sports leagues.
Each week of the NFL season, students will follow three steps (totaling approximately 30 minutes): 1. Receive a lesson (generally a video, but it could also be a blog post or infographic). 2. Answer a few questions to test their understanding and application of the lesson. Correct answers add a bonus “quick check score” to their fantasy football score. 3. Set their lineup and assign expected fantasy performance range for each NFL player (only available to students who received the instruction and completed the questions).
The lessons will develop students’ critical-thinking and decision-making skills both in and out of fantasy football by teaching concepts such as: (1) evaluating and testing information, (2) applying “mathematical thinking” to make better projections, and (3) recognizing and resisting cognitive biases (e.g. recency bias, confirmation bias) that distort rational decision making.
Fantasy Football Game:
Students can either form their own private leagues or join a public league. Each week, students will choose to “start” eight NFL players at four positions from a pool of 30 top players. The same group of players is available for all students to select, and the same player can be started by multiple players. NFL player information will be provided so that all students have the same initial set of information. For each of the eight players that are chosen as the starting lineup, students will set a range around their expected score for that player. If the NFL player lands within the range, students will win additional bonus points. A student’s weekly score is a combination of actual fantasy points earned by the players in their lineup (as in traditional fantasy football) plus: (1) a “bonus score” based on whether their players’ scores fell in the expected score ranges, and (2) a “quick check score” based on correct responses to the questions after receiving that week’s lesson. Our system will compute students’ scores and report the overall and league standings. Scholarships will be awarded to the top finishers in the overall competition at the end of the season, and prizes will be awarded to top finishers each week and league winners at the end of the season.
About How I Decide:
How I Decide (HID) is a Philadelphia-based educational nonprofit that equips youth with skills to be better decision makers throughout their lives. HID creates innovative programs and instructional content to develop students’ critical thinking, social, and emotional skills. Since its founding in 2014, HID has served over 3,000 students (primarily students in urban, disadvantaged communities in Philadelphia) and has expanded its reach nationally. To learn more, please visit www.howidecide.org.