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Political Campaigns Meet Fantasy Sports [SURE Stories]

The following blog post was written by UHPer and SURE Award winner Benji Englander.

One of the best things about pursuing individual research is the ability to create your own project focused on the things you find most interesting. As a political communication major moonlighting as a self-proclaimed fantasy sports expert, my thesis allowed me to combine my loves of sports and politics into one academic research project.

By conducting an A/B test that compares two versions of a candidate’s speech – one with local sports team references and one without – in three states known for the loyalty of their sports fans, my research ascertained the political usefulness of sports rhetoric. While not conclusive, the results show that under the right circumstances with the right audience, references to local sports teams can play an important role in political rhetoric and offer unique insights into voter behavior. This project was a substantial undertaking that would not have been possible without the SURE award and support from the UHP. The funding allowed me to gather a representative sample size for my experiment leading to statistically significant results.

If given the opportunity, I would highly recommend that students participate in individual research. Academic research combines all the skills taught throughout college and focuses them on something guaranteed to be interesting because you are in control. The ability to pick the subject matter is rare as an undergraduate and an opportunity one shouldn’t pass up.