03/8/15

Personal Anthem (Phoenix Jones and Last Fan Standing)

Because, well, everybody needs one.

All of song blogging is anthem writing, in a sense. Anthems for events and times and people. Taking topics uncommon, maybe even corny, to song writing and trying to find the kernel of real passion and humanity. Where is the glory and the grit in the story and sh!t?

From Diana Nyad to Work to Ride, the all black polo team, to Dallas Wiens, the face transplant survivor, I’ve been writing theme songs for years, even as I was just attempting to cover the people and stories, of the news, in art. And by “art” I may mean reconstructive surgery raps.

Most famously, the Phoenix Jones theme song:

Phoenix Jones was recently profiled in this ESPN expose. He was previously a regional MMA fighter. Apparently, it gets a little slow around Bristol after football season and before the NBA playoffs.

His ex-colleague in crime fighting and domestic abuse prevention heroin, Purple Reign, had these kind things to say about the anthem:

purple reign facebook
There are two takes. That we overuse hero or that there’s a little bit in all of us. I break slightly toward the latter. Of course, by contrast to Jones, my entire career in heroing consists of a broken arm jumping off a porch, caped, at four and rescuing my cat from the sewer. And, what little Superman I had in me has recently all been evacuated. I feel a lot like this:

So here’s to Phoenix Jones and the imperfect hero in all of us. You have a Personal Anthem. Your day has a soundtrack. Your show has a theme song. Your crew has a battle hymn. I just maybe haven’t written it yet.

In other anthem news, I am happy to officially announce that I have recorded the theme song to Bruce Campbell’s game show, Last Fan Standing, to premier on ConTV, the television adjunct to the famous Comic Cons.

Last Fan Standing Key Art

The show begins next week and the song is available now at iTunes and Amazon and can be streamed on Spotify. Search “Last Fan Standing.”

The real irony of the show is that people have spent a gob smacking number of hours actually sitting to be the fan, last standing. Celebrating the nerdist in each of us, today’s blong below.

Performed by sintax.the.terrific. Music produced by Sir Chamberlain.

Lyrics here.

Last Fan Standing (Official Game Show Theme)

10/18/14

Kelly Slater is Not a Sport

Kelly Slater, the livingly legendary surfer, apparently just did this:

Some are reporting it as a 540 (as in degrees). Others as a 720. I don’t really care. However characterized, it’s wildly unimpressive.

But, it does give me an opportunity to repost one of my longstanding personal theories on a deep cosmic question, to the instigation of many personal friends and Charlestonians especially:

What is sport?

The eternal debate over which activities constitute “sport” and which do not, ends now. For too long, we’ve been left to our own individual view. Bass fishing. Ice skating. The WNBA. What are they? We need an objective test. A standardized list. Even the so-called Worldwide Leader in Sports, without distinction, sloppily conflates the performances of Kelly Slater and Jimmie Johnson and Shaun White with those of Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick and Mike Trout. All world class athletes for sure. Not all participants of sport. But, how can we know for sure?

So, presently, I think we’re all working with a kind of intuitive definition of sport that includes three generalized elements:

1. An activity;
2. requiring some threshold level of physical exertion/skill; and
3. performed within a measurable and competitive context.

These three elements by themselves lead to all kinds of controversy. Is race car driving a sport? It requires an above-resting-heart-rate level of cardio; physical strength; and world class eye hand coordination. It’s also a race. But, it sure looks a lot like just driving a car. Is surfing a sport? The physical element is plainly satisfied. But, what really is a surfing “contest”? Non-standardized playing environment. And, physical techniques poorly suited for quantification and measurement. How about billiards? A kind of low-grade eye-hand coordination, relative to something like baseball or golf. But, plainly an objectively measurable competitive outcome.

Most people think the controversy is all in the second element. Are you being “athletic” enough to constitute sport? But, an emphasis on the second element leads to unnecessarily forced accusations like “soccer players are bed wetters” in order to try and discount an activity as sport, when plainly the physical element is present. And, while there is admittedly some grey area caused by our intuition that sport requires “physicality,” I actually think the real confusion is almost entirely in the third element.

When we doubt sport, we are really subconsciously reacting to an activity out of context.

See the problem is that we live in a “game” culture. And, so we are constantly turning everything into a measurable test of wills and talent. Pie eating contests. iPad math games. Iron Chef. Seed spitting. Spelling Bees. Madden Bowl. Project Runway. Jeopardy. Last Comic Standing. That cup stacking thing. Otherwise non-competitive activities that we simply decide to score. And, then we’re stuck wondering if it is a sport. There really isn’t any activity that we can’t quantify and make competitive. And, so we wind up shrugging our shoulders at ESPN’s 2:00 am time slot and reluctantly accepting that the Lumberjack Games must be a sport. “They’re really strong. And they get a trophy carved from a tree trunk.” Check and check.

But, intuitively we know this isn’t right. And, when we can’t clearly challenge on the basis of athleticism, like with The World’s Strongest Man competition or American Ninja Warrior, it’s all the more frustrating. “I know he’s pulling a transport truck with his teeth, but that can’t possibly be a sport.”

Consider the mystery solved. Our definition of sport simply needs to include the following clarification.

If an activity has some context other than its competitive one, it is NOT A SPORT, even if it also now enjoys a competitive context; it is just an activity. By contrast, sport has no other context for its activity than its competitive one.

Football doesn’t have a non-competitive context. Football was invented for football’s sake. You can choose to not keep score but that doesn’t make the performance of the activity any less advesarial. It is always pitting, so to speak. Some activity called “footballing” did not predate the competitive, sport version of football. The activity is a priori, in philosophical parlance. Same with basketball or golf or hockey.

Certainly you can break down the individual elements of an inherently competitive activity into non-competitive ones. Like hitting balls at the range. Or throwing a baseball off a brick wall. But, that’s just practice; not the actual and full activity itself. When you play baseball. You’re playing baseball. And, if you want to say that spinning the football with your dad in the backyard isn’t a sport, we can agree to agree. It’s an activity. Football, however, is a sport.

So, let’s look at the modified rule in application.

Skateboarding? Not a sport. Skateboards were toys and transportation first. X-games came later. It’s an activity. And a public nuisance.

Horseback riding? Not a sport. Horses were for transportation, hunting, and nation-state imperialism originally. The track came later. It’s an activity. And a farm animal.

Car racing? Not a sport. It’s an activity. You may have heard of it. It’s called driving.

And, cycling? Yep. Not a sport. It’s an activity. Horn. Woven basket. Tandem seats. Picnic. The Tour came later.

Surfing. Uh uh. Any activity that includes the risk of shark attack is not a sport. It’s survival.

To be clear, all of these are athletic or rather require athleticism. But, so does hand-to-hand guerrilla warfare. That doesn’t make it a sport.

To the point, this “original context” view eliminates the sort of qualitative judgment the debate about sport presently implies. So, currently, the race car driver has to behave sort of defensively that the athleticism and physicality required of him is high, whenever his racing is not accepted by some as a sport. But, this proposed addendum to the definition of sport effectively shifts the debate from athletic v. non-athletic to activity v. sport. And, truthfully this view is already in line with the culture of these activities. Competition and scoring were imposed on many of these activities, like surfing and skateboarding and axe hurling, whose participants philosophically already see contests and competitions as a kind of existential threat to the purity of the real experience and culture of those things. A definition, which focuses on the original purpose of the activity, therefore, removes this more judgmental and artificial exercise in critisizing the physical talent or skill or difficulty of relative sports.

How about foot races you might ask or long jump? People have been jumping over and running from and after things for as long as we’ve been bi-pedal. And, mostly for non-competitive reasons. How can the 100m or triple jump not be a sport simply because they have other non-competitive contexts?

And, so, I have promulgated an important corollary to our definition, called the “Antiquities Exception.” It goes as follows:

If the activity was originally considered a sport, in antiquity, then it remains a sport in modernity.

Running.

Jumping.

Wrestling/Boxing/Fighting Arts.

Object hurling. Javelins. Shot puts.

All of these were “sport” in antiquity. They’re grandfathered in, so to speak. If it was a “sport” before the invention of pants, let’s say, you can continue to claim it now.

Before I continue, it’s critical that we say a little more about the second element — that physical exertion/skill be present. Although this is where most people believe the debate lies, I think it’s pretty straightforward.

If an activity requires two or more of speed/quickness, strength, agility, flexibility, and eye-hand coordination, it satisfies the physical exertion demands of sport.

Period.

This working definition quickly helps identify inherently competitive activity without physicality, as “game,” and inherently competitive activity with physicality, as sport. Things like board and yard games, therefore, pretty rapidly find their water level as games.

Monopoly. Game.
Chess. Game.
Cornhole. A passion.

It also relegates something like billiards to the game category for its reliance essentially on only one attribute in eye hand coordination but solidifies something like ping pong or table tennis as sport for demanding quickness plus coordination.

Here are some interesting test cases.

The sleddings. Bob, dog, snow. Ancient activities. But, not necessarily ancient sports. 1967 was the first Iditarod. Not a sport. Anything that involves “packing” or “food stores” is not a sport.

Skiing. As a means of snow escape, maybe as old as 5 to 6 thousand years. As a sport, relatively new. It’s, at best, an activity, at worst, suicide.

Sailing. You already saw the spoiler. Not a sport. Anything used to “circumnavigate” cannot be sport. Satellites. Shuttles. Boats.

Roller Derby. Although roller skating itself is an activity, punching women in the face while roller skating has no other context. Sport.

Lumberjack Olympics. Not a sport. Anything that scores or measures “job performance” is an evaluation not a sport.

Arm wrestling. Have you seen Over the Top? Sport.

Fishing. As with the sleddings, if the activity also doubles as a food source or other life necessity, not a sport.

One of my favorites. Cheerleading. Not a sport. It has another context. Called cheerleading.

Horseshoes. A game. Eye hand coordination only.

Ice skating. Regardless of the definition used, ice skating will never, ever, ever be a sport. Panty hose = no sport.

Women’s softball. Begrudgingly a sport.

Clemson football. Not a sport. It plainly has no competitive context. It is strictly non-competitive.

How about swimming? Evidence of “swim meets” and Speedo in the Ancient World is admittedly a little thin, but it has such a high association with modern sport, like track, that it’s hard to not deem swimming a sport. So, is swimming more like skiing, essentially a type of environmentally specific transportation, or more like sprinting, an old sport? To resolve it, the Antiquities Exception should reasonably be extended to cover any competition based on an irreducibly singular athletic movement that doesn’t include equipment. Like running or jumping. Whereas skiing and sailing are an activity in human/equipment hybrid, swimming is a base athletic activity. A sport. You’re lucky, Phelps. Real lucky.

One more canard: gymnastics.

Trust me. The the back layout with a half twist has no other context. And, no one can quibble with the physical requirements. But, it gets such a bad rap for scoring that it seems to fail the measurable/competitive element as simply not well-suited to assessment. I would offer that although the current judging system is an abomination, as with boxing, that doesn’t mean you can’t imagine a more technical and objective type of adjudication. Sport. By the skin of your leotard, Tim Daggett.

So, let’s review. A “sport” is

1. Any activity;
2. requiring physical exertion, to include two or more of the following physical attributes – speed, agility, flexibility, strength, or eye-hand coordination; and
3. performed within a competitive context, so long as the activity has no other non-competitive context,

otherwise, it is a game or an activity.

Antiquities Exception: Any physical activity deemed a “sport” in antiquity is a sport in modernity, to include any competition based on an irreducibly singular athletic movement that doesn’t include equipment.

Got it?

To summarize:

Baseball. A sport.

Surfing (Kelly Slater). Not a sport.

Lacrosse. A sport.

Fantasy sports. Not a sport. Even if you’re in an auction, keeper, league-specific, PPR, rotisserie, War Room league.

So next time someone invites you to a NASCAR event or the Kentucky Derby or the above videoed 2014 Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal, you can confidently say, “Why thank you. I’d love to attend that ‘activity competition’ with you.”

(And, yes, please use air quotes, when you do.)

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Fab da Eclectic. Lyrics here.

Today’s blong here:

Bad Sport

08/25/13

Football Fantasy

The hardest fantasy football song ever written.

This is for all the “girls” in my fantasy football league that I’m going to embarrass again this year at not-real football.

[My apologies to real girls everywhere for using your gender so pejoratively. While I don’t think you’re less capable at fantasy football than men, all the cheauvanist pig Neanderthals in my fantasy football league do, and so it still makes for an effective insult. I’m using their own bigotry against them, even as I’m plainly enlightened.]

I wrote this anthem last year for my favorite fantasy football podcast, “Fantasy Focus,” hosted by ESPN’s Matthew Berry, Nate Ravitz, Stephania Bell, and Podvader.

In spite of the song’s obvious merits, they still refuse to make it their standard intro. Matthew Berry did “favorite” my tweet about it and my challenge to Eric Hutchinson, whose song is presently the Fantasy Focus anthem, to a fantasy football song battle.

Now, to suggest that Eric is a “chicken” would be more than I feel comfortable doing. But, maybe a yellow belly? Or coward?

As far as their failure to make my song their official anthem, I’m sure the crew over at Fantasy Focus just forgot. So, I would encourage you all to spend the remainder of the week reminding them.

@MatthewBerryTMR
@NateRavitz
@Stephania_ESPN
@TheRealPodVader

fantasyfocus@ESPNradio

You might also want to ask @EricHutchinson why he’s so lilly livered?

Please be respectful, however, to abide by the Twitter daily limit and keep your tweets to Matthew, Nate, Stephania, and PodVader south of 1000 tweets a day. Thanks in advance.

08/14/13

Man of the Cloth

Like a miniature Podcast Hadron Collider, my recently upgraded-to iPhone 5 nearly destroyed the known universe.

Without warning, my two most severe passions circled back on each other at speeds approaching that of light, when the Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, this week, dedicated an entire podcast to the cinema career of Jodie Foster. Like two tiny neutrinos of cultural icon, my favorite sports analyst collided with the star of my indisputably favorite movie, when he declared Contact “unwatchable,” nearly tearing a small earbud shaped black hole in the ESPN Podcenter of space/time. (Actually, I believe he said that this masterpiece of movie story telling “put the ‘un’ in unwatchable,” if I remember correctly. At the time, my body was being stretched infinitely high by the extreme gravitational effects of the microscopic black hole, so I can’t be certain.)

Ask my wife. After years of reading him, I just whisper, in a delicate Boston brogue, “That’s Bill Simmons – That’s Bill Simmons – That’s Bill Simmons,” whenever he does NBA Countdown or appears on PTI or calls in to Colin Cowherd.

Ask my friends. How many times I’ve made them watch Contact. On Blu-Ray. And, repeat:

I guess you could say, “I’m a man of the cloth . . .

without the cloth.”

We all eventually disagree with someone we admire. But, to pursue with such august, over so long a time, such weirdly disparate enthusiasms, as Bill and Contact, and for them to so impossibly and ruthlessly meet on a sports podcast, is to feel as though you’ve reached a kind of event horizon of your interests. Like finding the end of the internet. Only, when you get there, you realize that at the intersection of all you love, your one passion thinks your other passion is a piece of crap.

I’ve been reading Jim Holt’s book, Why Does the World Exist?

I didn’t invite any, but my daughter naively answered the cover, “Because God made it.” I laughed at her and told her that she was not very smart.

Holt’s book is subtitled an “existential detective story,” which I think can be roughly translated, “Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.” (Yep. Contact quote. Won’t be the last.)

To various know-it-alls, scientific and philosophical, Holt asks, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” Which really is the most fundamental question one can ask, whether or not you are a person of faith. I suppose, on its face, it sounds irreligious or sacrilegious. But, it’s not.

For atheists and other variety of secular humanists, the question obviously focuses on what proceeded the singularity in the big bang. Nothing. Or Something. Did the dot of matter and energy at the dawn of time materialize from a real kind of nothingness or is there some alternative explanation of oscillating or infinite regression?

But, the question is true for any Divine belief, as well. How do you explain the existence of a Creator God? Either It came from nothing or always was.

Both theories are imponderable, of course. But, they are the only two possible explanations regardless of your conception of creation, religious or secular.

Since Einstein, the concepts in quantum physics have slowly increased in their philosophical influence over the culture of how we understand our origins and purposes. And, I generally love it. The New York Times Bestsellers List, every year, is guaranteed to have offerings of this kind. As Holt’s subtitle suggests, we love collecting the clues. And, the 13 particles (including Higgs Boson) of the Standard Model are like galactic breadcrumbs, through the universe, back home.

But, it dawned on me, what a weird perspective this is. To look at the manufacturing or components of our existence to draw conclusions about origin or purpose.

I mean, you would never presume to look at a sparkplug to guess about the purpose or design of a Ferrari.

Or to the electrode in the sparkplug.

Or to the copper-core of the electrode in the sparkplug.

Or to the atomic structure of the copper-core of the electrode in the sparkplug.

There is nothing about this “drilling down” that brings you closer to knowing or explaining the joy that the Italian sports car brings to sentient, testosterone fueled bipeds.

spark_plug

I mean a sparkplug tells you something about a Ferrari. It’s electrical. It’s a machine. But, the view at best is fairly myopic and provincial. The truth is wildly more spectacular.

Driving the Ferrari on the Autobahn? Everything you need to know.

So, why isn’t this generally true of humanity? Why doesn’t this personal and relational consciousness we experience, inclined towards morality albeit imperfectly so, tell us more about our origins and purpose than the randomized, inhuman, subatomic particles from which we exploded?

In the same way, driving a car to the store or work or graduation should tell you a good bit more about it’s actual purpose than reverse engineering one of its gaskets or spark plugs.

I won’t make a full defense of Contact, here. The last 30 minutes, however, are essentially flawless. They include (1) the most likely and realistically depicted extraterrestrial encounter ever shown on screen (embedded above) and (2) one of the most poignant expressions of existential faith and experience (embedded below), since Chewy screamed when they slammed the Rebel Base blast doors shut on Han and Luke still trapped out in the perilous subzero landscape of Hoth.

In her earlier disbelief, Jodie Foster’s character, Dr. Arroway, at one point challenges the fully believable priest character, portrayed by Matthew McConaughy at the height of his smarm:

So what’s more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious God created the Universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence? Or, that He simply doesn’t exist at all, and that we created Him, so that we wouldn’t have to feel so small and alone?

I have been conditioned my whole life to believe the former. So, my take is not very objective. But, when you look at the Ferrari of our existence, in contrast to the gasket of our quantum origins, I would disagree that a mysterious and relational God has given us no proof of Its existence.

And, in our disagreement with Foster, Bill Simmons and I appear to, in fact, agree. Again.

Black hole averted.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Haralduz7.

Today’s blong here:

Wrong End

01/21/13

The Truth About Te’o

People have suggested that Manti Te’o must either be the perpetrator of a disgusting hoax or supremely dumb.

Numerous pundits, including the likes of Stephen A. Smith and Colin Cowherd, have said that it’s inconceivable that a red-blooded, alpha male, Division I athlete could ever carry on a serious relationship almost exclusively online or by telephone. That you would never profess “love” for a woman you never did, or could have, touched.

But, there is a third possibility.

It hit me while watching the same interview, from early last fall, that the networks run to expose him. And, I understand how it might have been easy to miss because he’s tough and has a tattoo of a Mayan hockey rink on his bicep and plays like a wild barbarian. But, I recognized it immediately in the innocent way he described his affection for her.

See, Te’o is Mormon. And, it’s already been suggested in delicate ways that he might have been less than socially or relationally sophisticated. But, children of devout Mormon and extreme evangelical families can develop a deep psychological inhibition to sexual activity even as they’re subject to the same natural impulses as their peers. It’s not necessarily naivete but a kind of personal reticence. I recognize it in Te’o, as unlikely as his popularity and image might suggest.

Importantly, this is different than being gullible or just dumb. Such inhibition would allow a kid like Te’o to be comfortable with a long distance relationship over a period of time where others would demand more. It would actually relieve that angst for him. At the same time, it would make him more susceptible to catfishing because he would not insist, as quickly, on the same physical evidence, so to speak, that in-person interaction would provide and that essentially every person with a chin-strap and testicles would require.

And precisely for this awkwardness, he certainly might have been unduly energized by any media attention that took this otherwise stunted relationship seriously. So, you get what appears to be an exaggerated expression of love when in truth it’s probably about as serious as he’s had.

I, obviously, don’t know — about his personal religious conviction or virginity or dating history. For all I know, he might be a Don Juan.

But, I see and suspect something I personally recognize. It’s a real phenomenon whether Te’o fits the diagnosis or not.

I guess you could say that I know the feeling.

UPDATE: TheRapUp.net has picked up on my song today.

Manti Te'o, Jeremy Schaap

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by juiceboxjackson.

Today’s blong here:

Catfisher of Men

08/9/12

Casinos and Daycares

So I have a friend who has a friend who does sweepstakes as a hobby. I know. Sounds like doing bath salts as a dessert. Or doing your nails as massage. Wait. People actually do that. Anyway, he raked. Like a serious family vacay every year. Hawaii not Dollywood. Sorry, Mom and Dad (they’re D-Wood GOLD VIP.) He had a garage and guest room full of prize. A dozen waffle irons. Four mopeds. A year’s supply of Mop ‘n Glow. Stacked to the ceiling, Ali Baba style. (I’m just guessing about the waffle irons; that would be pretty amazing though.)

So he set aside $30 every month of discretionary household money. Instead of golfing or fishing or a gym membership or coin collecting or LARPing, he would use the $30 to purchase postage for various nationwide and regional promotional giveaways. Apparently there is a publication that provides regular information about sweepstakes and their specifications. Region. Number of prizes. Advertising reach. So if a large number of prizes were being given away in a promotion of limited reach, you had a sense about the probability of winning.

Anyway, a new golf club company was giving away 30 bags of clubs. My friend told me that his friend said that this was pretty much a sweepstakes lead-pipe cinch. Sure enough, all three of us won. 10% of the bags. And, that’s why, to this day, you’ll never catch me driving anything other than a Slotline. “Slotline. Keep your slot right on the line.” ?? I’m not sure they actually have a slogan. And, the fact you’ve never heard of Slotline or that Tiger Woods wouldn’t scratch his backside with a Slotline or that his wife wouldn’t even use a Slotline to bust out a windshield to kill her husband is just a testimony to the good ol’ boy, backward mentality of golf. Unbelievable. Because, I’ve used a Slotline. And, trust me. It will put you into the same woods as your fancy sticks — for half the price.

So as it turns out, my friend’s friend was a pastor. Playing games of chance. The shame. “The Devil’s Ruse.” “Hell’s Gambit.” “The Card Shuffle Souffle.” “Roulette’s Underpants.” “The Snake Oil Milkshake.” “The Ol’ Getcha.” (I made all of those up.)

So in the civilizing process there are, over time, certain behaviors that are necessary to circumscribe. Not because they are inherently all bad themselves, but because they associate other lesser desired conduct and reduce, overall, civility. The “broken windows” criminological theory relies on this idea to explain the correlation between the disrepair of buildings and crime. Broken windows and general urban disorder have a tendency to signal to individuals that crime and anti-social behavior is permissible in that area. Simple building maintenance can transform the entire psychological view of the community.

A similar phenomenon happens in my bedroom. The more empty Diet Mountain Dew cans on my desk the more likely I am to disrobe right in the middle of the room.

In a related sense, cultural signals like tattoos or gambling or body piercing have been taboo, in large part, because they were associated with certain rebellious or immoral conduct or people and not because those aesthetic trappings or activities were so terribly horrible in themselves.

At some point, however, we become sufficiently entrenched in the habits of civility that we can revisit certain taboos without risk of resurrecting the associated and undesireable other conduct — like steer ropin’!

I can’t say it any better than Steve Pinker summarizes in his new book, that I can’t seem to stop quoting, Better Angels of our Nature:

The cliche about Generation X . . . was that they were media-savvy, ironic, postmodern. They could adopt poses, try on styles, and immerse themselves in seedy cultural genres without taking any of them too seriously. . . . the journalist David Brooks observed that many members of the middle class have become “bourgeois bohemians” who affect the look of people at the fringes of society while living a thoroughly conventional lifestyle.

And, this is true, right? It’s just as likely that your friend’s mom will have a tribal butterfly tattoo or nose ring today as the crook or harlot or whomever society might have historically associated with those items. And, that mom has a professional career, PTA membership, and a sustainability compost pile. (Wait is that a smoldering pile upon which we compost all things sustainable??!)

My wife swears that if she ever got one, she would go full tattoo sleeve on both arms. This is the same woman that is uncomfortable with light forehead perspiration at like a CiCi’s Pizza or, I don’t know, a gymnasium.

So when New Jersey thumbs its nose at federal gambling laws and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), by passing its own legislation to legalize sports betting in its state, any outcry against the decision rings sort of parochial and schoolmarmish.

The NJ legislation has some legal obstacles. The kind of monopoly or dissimilar treatment to operate in sports gambling given, by PASPA, to Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon but not other states, has precedent in commerce clause jurisprudence. At the same time some of the policy arguments, rooted in these sort of dying social norms discussed above, for disallowing states to adopt sports betting across the board, are losing their efficacy. Especially in light of the mounting hypocrisy of sports leagues who knowingly benefit in all kinds of direct and indirect ways from it but would now resist, by filing a lawsuit, its expansion to other states, like NJ.

Gambling used to be the thing of gunslingers and gangsters and guys smoking cubans. But, there is legal sports betting in Las Vegas. They talk about game lines on ESPN (they host a “Behind the Bets” podcast for heaven’s sake). Your sister plays fantasy football and participates in a March Madness pool. Sports betting is no longer a marginalized activity of organized criminals (although, ironically, its very criminality allows such people to still flourish at it).

At this point, it’s simply another form of acceptable entertainment and leisure. We waste dollars on unserious, ephemeral things all the time. A movie. A sporting event. A vacation to Disney World. Computer technology. And, trust me, we can become addicted to it all. Gambling isn’t some vice unto its own in that regard (that’s not to say that games of chance cannot sometimes prey disproportionately on the poor but so can all variety of bad money management invited by such socio-economic circumstances).

The day is coming. Sports gambling will be legalized. Heavily regulated. Appropriately scrutinized. But, legal.

High rolling pastors and tattoo sleeved wives everywhere essentially guarantee it.

P.S. RG3, Bolt, & Howard???!!

Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by Sundance.

Today’s song blog here:

Sharps and Squares