Will Yellowstone Win the National Parks Playoffs? 


Bracketology? The National Park Service can do that, too!


It isn’t often that an e-mail from the Government Printing Office grabs my attention, but this week’s popped up saying, National Parks Playoff. Hmm. Better open that.

It said this, more or less:

"It’s that time of year again, when playoffs of all kinds are in the news! Just for fun, this link will take you to GPO’s National Parks Playoff of favorite National Parks handbooks, matched with park posters by the noted artist Charley Harper" ... whose name unfortunately was also used for the questionable character Charlie Sheen plays in the questionable CBS comedy Two and a Half Men.

“Make your picks for the Federal Final Four! Use the green ‘Vote now!’ buttons to vote your favorite publications into the next round. You can use the burgundy buttons in the team brackets to move the products forward in your own ‘fantasy league’ and print out your page to see how close you come to the actual vote results.

“BONUS! Once they’re selected, for 30 days the top vote-getting handbook and poster will be offered at a 25 percent discount! And while you’re there, check out hundreds of other interesting publications on our Online Bookstore, for countless hours of entertainment.”

The site itself pits Isle Royale National Park against Cape Cod National Seashore, the Rocky Mountains versus the Redwoods, and the Alpine Northwest against the U.S. Virgin Islands. The warring divisions are the Fruited Plains, Spacious Skies, Amber Waves, and Purple Mountain Majesties.

So, wow. A very creative parks employee with a good sense of humor and a penchant for basketball and/or computer programming had some extra time. Let’s also note that the directions say, “It’s our annual playoff for popular Government publications!”

Is this a regular rite of spring?


Seriously, it is a fun idea. I’d enjoy it more, though, if I could see the full posters. The pictures appear under the chart, in miniature form. The thumbnails hint at impressive artwork, but clicking them takes the user to an order page with things like ISBN and stock numbers, and the international price. (No!)

In fairness, the order page does try to advance the ball by supplying a description – the Canyon Country poster promises “an enchanted landscape of colorful pinnacles, buttes, spires, mesas, and canyons teeming with wildlife,” which sounds very nice. And this lack of detail is parallel to what you’d find in a basketball playoff. After all, you never really know what you’re going to get from a team until the final round.

So, ladies and gentlemen, make your picks in the National Parks Playoff and get ready to cheer on your favorite parks poster.

Clearly, March madness has taken over.