Ben Lea
Assistant Tournament Director / Amanuensis
Lead Singer -- Darling Mookie, the world's coolest sports cover band

Oh, hello. Thanks for stopping by. My friend, unindicted co-conspirator, and the Nero Wolfe to my Archie Goodwin, Mr. Jeremy Horatio White asked me to give you a little insight into my psyche, so you'd know what you were getting yourself into by coming to this tournament we run every year. So, let's take a tour of Ben's history in nerdbowl. Please remember to keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times.

There are no extant pictures of me. If anybody tells you they've seen a picture, they're lying. Damn soul-stealers. First they take your picture, then they pin you down and suck your soul out of any major orifice.

But, if you really must know what Jeremy & I look like... well ... okay...

First, let's see a show of hands: how many people here were born in or after 1981? Gosh, that many? [gulp] Well, I started playing this silly game before y'all were born, when my 7th grade algebra teacher (and basketball coach -- but let us never mention that again) organized an exhibition with a rival school's team, coached by his wife. Did it go well? Well, put it this way: I didn't play competitively again until my freshman year of college...

Yeah, I couldn't find a picture of my old school. Uh, sorry?

So, what happened at NC State to get me hooked on this game? Was it winning Nationals in 1988? (Those of you who were born after May of 1988, keep it to yourselves -- I already feel very, very old.) No, actually, it was the first tournament I ever ran (on my 21st birthday no less -- apparently, my need to get out more often runs long and deep), in November of 1989.

To this day, I cannot remember how the conversation went, but in consulting with the nerdbowl team's advisor, the suggestion was made that we name the tournament after our graduating coach, Chuck Wessell. Thus was WessellMania born. The suggestion also came up that we give wrestling belts as trophies. So, either I had a really wacky idea, or Mike Wallace did. (No, not *that* Mike Wallace.) Hard to say at this point, but regardless, the wacky idea took root. (Mike, if you're reading this, thanks!)

Astoundingly, I couldn't find pictures of the belts online. How has no one posted the picture of Jim Dendy holding a wrestling belt yet? This is shaking my faith in the completeness of the Internet, you know...

In a conversation once with an unnamed quizmaster from a nameless Tennessee hamlet, it was remarked that I was likely to go down as the Bill Veeck of nerdbowl, and I'm pretty much okay with that. I'm certainly more interested in bringing the "game" back into the game than I am in writing impossible questions to demonstrate my own ... something or other. It's more fun losing 300 to 275 than it is losing 60 to 40. High-scoring games, you feel like you have a chance, you're on the edge of your seat. When you don't know anything, it's just no fun. (Losing 270 to 10, as I once did? Well, let's never speak of that again either.)

So, I assume you're just brim-ful of questions now. Tough break. You'll *need* to be brim-ful of answers come October. See you at F.O.G.H.A.T. 5!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled F.O.G.H.A.T. website, already in progress.