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Simmons Says - Dirty Santa is no joke
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The sports calendar usually slows during the Christmas season. Players and coaches alike want to be around the fire exchanging gifts this time of year, not flying up and down courts trying to get a game-winning bucket.

Just because sports take a brief hiatus doesn’t mean there is no local competition. I found that out last weekend while participating in Dirty Santa with my family.

Most people are probably already familiar with the Dirty Santa premise – Everybody bring a gift, then people draw numbers to see where they’ll pick gifts. As the order is followed, each subsequent person can open a new gift, or steal a gift already opened by another individual.

If you haven’t played it, I’d highly recommend it.

As the Simmons clan gathered to play, the strategy involved in trying to get a great gift reminded me of being a coach looking to secure a win. You have to call the right play in the right situation.

We had a curveball come in at the last second this year, right after I had drawn the dreaded No. 1 spot. It’s usually best to be last, when you can survey the whole field and then make your play. But just before the picking, my dad mentioned that anybody who has a gift stolen can go back to the pile or steal from another person.

The only other rule was once a gift was stolen twice, it couldn’t be stolen again. His house, his rules. I gladly accepted the terms, with my whole scheme changing on the fly.

Much like me, the majority of my family are Vol fans. Because of this, I brought an easy gift that I thought anybody wouldn’t mind taking home – an orange fleece UT throw blanket. 

I opened my own gift first. The blanket drew oohs and ahhs from the gallery – some legit, others obligatory because nobody wants to be openly critical on Christmas.

I knew I was safe. Either I would go home with my own gift (I’ve done it three of the last four years), or somebody would steal later and I’d have a better idea of the other gifts. Of course my dad stole it, because he has to have anything he sees that is orange.

My plan worked like a charm, as somebody had just opened a Bluetooth speaker two gifts before that I swiftly snagged. 

Now as the proud owner of a new speaker and a wireless phone charger, I leave you with the wise words of former Jet football coach Herm Edwards.

“You play to win the game!”

And Merry Christmas to all the faithful fans of Simmons Says, and I guess to the haters as well.

Jeffery Simmons is the sports editor at the Southern Standard. He can be reached at 473-2191.