Every four years, the United States holds a sports contest. And since the United States is the center of the universe, this contest is called The Universal Series. (The organizers modeled the name on the World Series, which is played with a different ball, but it is also a sports contest confined entirely to American teams.)

Anyway, The Universal Series has a few unique characteristics.

1. It is always played between the same two teams: the Crats and the Pubs.

2. The game tends to involve lengthy preparation on both sides; moreover, the preparation for the next game begins immediately after the last one.

3. The rules of the game are complicated, and most Americans aren’t familiar with them.

4. The names of the teams are so hard to say, being composed of monosyllables, that people tend simply to refer to them by their colors: the Crats are blue, the Pubs are red.

Although the rules are complicated, the theory of the game is fairly simple: Everyone in the country decides which is their favorite color, then the choices are counted, and the captain of the winning color runs the country. But in practice, the game is a bit more complex than that.

Instead of each person choosing their own color, they choose people to choose the color they want. Then, these Chosen Few announce which color they have chosen.

But before that, the people are divided up into Fiefdoms, and each Fiefdom is allocated a certain number of Color-Choosers. The number of Color-Choosers is based upon the number of serfs in each Fiefdom. The Color-Choosers choose their color, and the country ends up with either a Red or a Blue Captain, depending upon the number of choices. This Captain then runs the country until the next Universal Series, and so on.

This basic game has run tolerably well every four years, and all kinds of effort for all these years have gone into arranging the game, having centralized venues where people can choose their Chooser, getting game officials to organize everything ahead of time, having Gatorade available during the game, making sure the game is fair, hiring neutral referees, etc.

But something really fascinating is happening this time. With the preparations already underway for the next Universal Series in 2024, the Pubs, having lost in 2020, have figured out a really clever method of winning next time. They are so annoyed at losing that they want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The method is so simple that it’s remarkable that nobody has thought of it before. They’re simply going to change all the rules. No-brainer!

The rule changes are these:

1. There will be many more choosing venues for the Pubs than for the Crats.

2. The Crats will be given much less time to do their choosing than the Pubs.

3. If the lords of some of the fiefdoms don’t like the color chosen, they’ll just change the color to red.

4. The Crats will not be allowed to have Gatorade during the game.

5. The goalposts will be made much higher and narrower for the Crats to try to kick into. (They’ll be moved back and forth every quarter.)

6. The referees will all be chosen by the Pubs. And if they don’t rule the right way, they’ll be killed and their families put in jail.

As I say, it is a stunningly simple solution. The only question is why nobody thought of it before.

To keep life simple, the next Captain, who will naturally be red, will cancel the games altogether and save everybody a lot of time and trouble in the future.

Jeremy Yudkin lives in Stockbridge.