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A whole new meaning to ‘Moneyball’

Oak Ridge will travel to Farragut for this year’s money-fight championships after claiming the district title this past Sunday.

Money-fighting is, of course, the contentious sport where teams of seven on both sides light bundles of cash on fire before flinging them at the other team hoping to incapacitate the players on the other team. Critics have described the sport as a crude mix between dodgeball and trench warfare, decrying the sport as “barbaric.”

One of the strangest parts of new sport is how much it directly relies on funding from the school and parents, since the players have to light actual bundles of cash on fire and can’t rely on substitutes such as balls of paper or alcohol-soaked rags. This is, of course, much different from other sports, where the relative success of the team is almost never influenced by the funding it receives.

If the players run out of flaming balls of money before all the players on the other team are incapacitated, they’re forced to forfeit the match. In the early days of the sport, players sometimes used flaming bags of loose change, but the TSSAA ruled that that was antithetical to the “spirit” of money-fighting and banned the practice.

After the use of bags of change was banned, the number of teams participating in the sport dropped rapidly, with Oliver Springs and Campbell County immediately dissolving their school teams, while Anderson County and Clinton massively stepped up their fundraising efforts to support the teams.

While some have decried the sport as barbaric and “elitist,” the proponents of the sport say that it teaches students valuable lessons, including budgeting and burn care.

Aaron Hamilton, a TSSAA spokesman, said the sport is incredibly valuable to those athletes who participate in it.

“We’re teaching these kids how to budget effectively,” said Hamilton. “When you’ve only got so much cash to wad up and set on fire, you have to really be careful how you manage it. You have to make every flaming ball of money really count.”

Oak Ridge has dominated the district since the team’s inception, winning every single district championship, and next month, the Wildcats will travel to regionals where their first opponent will be Farragut.

Historically the Wildcats have struggled against Farragut in money-fighting, but the Wildcats’ head money-fighting coach, Aaron Von Leibowitz III, says the team is ready this year.

“We’ve done plenty of fundraising this year,” said Leibowitz, adjusting his monocle and sipping brandy out of a snifter. “Car washes and bake sales, et cetera, et cetera, and we won a lawsuit last year, so we believe we’re fairly well-funded and ready this year. Farragut’s always a tough team in money-fighting, and they’ve developed quite an ego about it over the years, but we’re confident that will make our victory, if you’ll only indulge me, all the more rich.”

Clinton and Anderson County, meanwhile, have recently consolidated their teams and are hosting a joint bake sale to begin raising money for next season.