Our judges convened this morning to choose six contestants to advance to the second round of our D.C.’s Greatest Sports Fan Contest. They judged each of their essays on the basis of originality, insight and quality of argument, and took into account what our readers had to say in the comments. Congratulations to those who advanced….

Michael Ortman: Ortman argued that the Redskins need a “patient, unwavering focus on the offensive line.” While our judges felt this is an opinion that is likely shared by many fans, they thought Ortman backed it up well. Commenter PhillyPhan agreed, writing “Wow, very insightful. it’s easy to gawk at the flashier play-makers but he’s dead on in his contention that strong teams are always built on strong bases.”

John Pence: Pence argued for the Caps to bring back the decibel meter, a relic of the Capital Centre in Landover. While it’s nothing our judges ever would have thought of themselves, they found it to be an amusing, light-hearted suggestion rooted in Pence’s own history as a D.C. sports fan. Even fellow competitor Michael Ortman agreed, writing in the comments under the moniker ykc8, “I share his memory of this experience, and would love to see it return. I know the team respects and appreciates the volume in the building.”

John Mann: Our judges found Mann’s call for the Nats to institute tiered ticket pricing based on demand, rival and other factors to be a smart, original suggestion. “It’s striking how many empty seats there are,” said judge Dan Steinberg. “It’s a real solution for a real problem.” Commenter cvb9 agreed, writing: “Optimizing seat prices could bring lost revenue to the team while decreasing premium seat costs for the fans. It’s a win-win.”

Colin Wilcox: Wilcox’s idea was another favorite of Dan’s. “It’s an original idea the Nats could and should jump on,” he said. “It reflects what’s worked for other teams.” The judges thought “The Red Sea” was a clever name too. Commenter KikiJ1 agreed, saying: “DC fans are nothing if not passionate-- and a little broke. But everyone loves a good game, with a great atmosphere.”

Allison Bagot: Our judges thought Bagot’s suggestion for the Redskins to do more promotional giveaways could help foster goodwill for a team that desperately needs it. Commenter higginslf also liked the idea: “Who doesn’t like giveaways? With the constant hike in ticket prices and the underwhelming performance of the Redskins, a bobble head or rally towel just might be the only thing that puts a smile on your face.”

Tracy Tran: Tran narrowly beat out the three remaining contestants to advance with his essay arguing that D.C. United build a stadium at Buzzard Point. Our judges commended Tran for recognizing that being a good sports city requires more than just the four traditional sports. Commenter emmi1966 agreed, writing: “having a MLS team would help complete the picture of DC as a modern complete sports city.”

Unfortunately, we’ll have to say goodbye to our three other contestants: Mike Kerdock , Scott Allen and Mike Rapier . Our judges appreciated their ideas, but were underwhelmed by the arguments made in their essays.

Think the judges made the right call? Tell us in the comments. And stay tuned for our second challenge coming early next week…