By Jason Keidel
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Ever feel forever unlucky? That even the smallest moments don’t break your way?READ MORE: Asbury Park Businesses Hopeful For A Successful Summer With Fewer COVID Restrictions Than 2020
Do you always pick the wrong line at the grocery store? Stand in line behind the guy who wants to use five forms of payment, refuses to use plastic bags and only speaks Mandarin?
I can relate.
So now that yours truly has dived into fantasy football, the crusade to ban it begins. Apologies to everyone who has been playing and prospering, taking their small slice of this wholly American pie, at the teat of the twin gold mines of FanDuel and DraftKings.
For years I refused to chomp on the chum of fantasy football. It was beneath me, the purist, who saw this farce for what it was — a sideshow for freak shows, a supreme bastardization of my beloved sport. I’d been watching football since diapers, and wiped my pimpled face with a 1978 Terrible Towel. I was old-school.
But I finally caved. I heard the right word at the right time. Maybe it was the 10,000th commercial that sang to my sense of elitism and football knowledge. If “Bob C” — some welder from Charlotte — could win five grand playing this game, then so could a New York City sportswriter. Bet on that!
Bet. Indeed. It is a bet. And fantasy football is gambling. We can parse the particulars, and go all Merriam-Webster on the word. But the standard sense of gambling is when we risk currency on an event or result we can’t control. So if I bet on Allen Hurns instead of the Jaguars, how is that magically different?
It’s not. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
What’s wrong is the moral relativism of the people who pass our laws and enforce them. Without swerving into a total political tangent, gambling is either legal or it isn’t. Either buying stocks and lotto tickets is gambling or it isn’t. And if it is, if those folks digging nickels into their favorite scratch-off is gambling, then just take an eraser to the law and allow everything into the financial fold.
There’s a skill and work ethic required to flourish in fantasy football, greater than there is in picking a point spread, and certainly more than summoning your Pick-4 number. But you can’t draw the gambling line somewhere in the middle.READ MORE: Better Business Bureau Offers Warning As Dueling Van Gogh Experiences Create Some Confusion For New Yorkers
The political lords are worried that this will somehow bleed the blue-collar stiff who wanders into the web of Internet gambling and soon sells his house, car and cat to feed his fix. For some reason, they’re not worried about the conga line twisting outside every bodega, clutching their rent money to buy a Power Ball slip.
Sure, fantasy sports crawled through a legal loophole, asserting that the defining difference with their game is that the final score doesn’t impact the fantasy player. But that’s an irrelevant distinction. WFAN host Mike Francesa made that point on Wednesday. Mike planned to talk to the FanDuel boss on Wednesday, but the spot was canceled shortly before the scheduled 5:05 interview.
And sure, fantasy football needs some form of neutral guidelines. No one expected this thing to mushroom into the monetary titan it has become. We’re talking billions, and more billions.
As Hunter S. Thompson wrote about another bubbling, financial volcano, “In an economy where Tom Jones can make $75,000 a week for two shows at Caesar’s, the palace guard is indispensable, and they don’t care who signs their paychecks. A gold mine like Vegas breeds its own army, like any other gold mine.
“Hired muscle tends to accumulate in fast layers around money/power poles … and big money in Vegas, is synonymous with the Power to protect it.”
Yessir. This is about the power and money to be drained from an industry with no ceiling. So while we need some rules to shield the consumer, this is not about protecting you, especially from yourself (which is a silly pretense, anyway).
No matter, New York State’s Attorney General has put the kibosh on the enterprise. That will start a tidal wave westward, heading to NJ, which was already cowering under the legislative gun.
The only consolation for some of us who hopped the Hudson River over the last few years is we can squeeze in our last wagers and just hope the arm of Johnny Law doesn’t reach us until 2016. Add to that the Jets and Bills on Thursday night, a few fly balls from where this is being written, and the Garden State is the Football State.
Soon enough, FanDuel or DraftKings will replace the Sopranos as New Jersey’s favorite crime family. And like the iconic family from the edges of Route 17, the crimes are fictional.MORE NEWS: New Rochelle Marks One Year Since First Case Of COVID-19 Was Confirmed
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonKeidel.