The SPAM Football Pool is an invitation-only football pool whose membership is spread across the United States and attempts to pick each week’s winners from the National Football League.
It all started in 1994, with a playoff pool, as a way for a couple of college buddies (Paul and Shawn) to stay in touch. We wagered a pizza over which one of us could predict the playoffs better. Shawn won.
The next year we split the season in two and tried our luck at picking each week’s regular season games for a first and second half prize (I won both). Soon my wife (Linda) caught on to the pizza nights and wanted to come along. I told her she couldn’t because she hadn’t done any of the work picking teams. So she joined in the 2nd half, lost the title on a tiebreaker to me (72-46), and got some pizza.
When I lost touch with Shawn in 1997, we replaced him with my mother (Gloria), who was traveling out to see my wife and I a couple times in the fall already and seemed like the best candidate to buy us our pizzas. However, she turned out to be better than we thought and won 2 of her first 3 attempts.
In addition, Gloria liked the pool so much she invited her football-illiterate friend from New York (Dianne) to join in 1998, and we decided to start mailing half prizes and just meet once a year for an overall prize dinner. Dianne survived each week by calling her daughter (Jennifer) for help with the picks, but this backfired when Jennifer realized she could claim the prizes for herself by joining, which she did in the 2nd half (although it took her a couple of years to claim a prize).
With a larger group spread out across the country, we moved the pool to a weekly email called the “A & M Football Pool.” The name was taken from the first letters of the only two last names comprising the pool at this point. However, when Shawn reactivated, the name was changed to “H. A. M. Football Pool” on October 2, 1999, and the tradition of having nicknames began, which lasted until 2005.
By the end of the year, my sister (Julie) had heard enough about the pool that she joined for the playoffs, and the name was changed to “H. A. M. S. Football Pool” on August 28, 2000.
In 2000, my son (Matthew) was old enough to start making his own picks and quickly earned the reputation as “Miracle Matthew” for his ability to be the only one to get the long shots correct (unfortunately he wasn’t getting much else). But he does hold the record for being the only member, whose age was in the single digits, to win a title! That year we also started the tradition of giving out the end-of-the-season awards, which also lasted until 2005.
By 2001, my mother’s cousin (Judy) had joined and Matthew began writing articles about the nicknames (September 29, 2001). With the introduction of a new last name to the group, a name change was in order. On April 20, 2002 several of the members met in Las Vegas, New Mexico to formalize the name and draw up a constitution. “SPAM Football Pool” became the official name and the website was introduced on April 27, 2002.