According to the Wall Street Journal, the fledgling online gambling industry is poised to explode in popularity.
This season, the NFL for the first time is permitting sports-gambling companies to advertise during games.
I don’t envy the precarious position the league has placed itself in. Their balancing act involves delicately rationing the number of wagering commercials per game so they can rake in big bucks — while stopping just short of alienating the fuddy-duddy nongamblers in their fanbase.
If this exercise in fence-straddling succeeds, there will undoubtedly be more compromises by the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and the rest. (“Yes, we stand behind our decision to ban the offensive mascot – but there will be a permanent surcharge on tickets so he can live out his life happy and free on a farm upstate.”)
I won’t lose any sleep over the reception of the ads, because I am such a tightwad and “get high on life” person that betting on sports is a nonissue for me.
I know, I know. I’m “missing out.” Brain scans show all the “pleasure centers” in the brain lighting up when a gambler takes a risk (win or lose). I’m more concerned about my brain’s YBD centers. (“You Big Dummy! You could have renewed a magazine subscription with what you blew on that fantasy sports league!”)
I suppose I’m just wired differently than most people. Yes, I have the standard “fight or flight” instinct common to mankind, but I don’t add the “or flush your Roth IRA down the toilet” instinct.
I realize I’m obligated to prove something to myself or my compatriots by making expert wagers, but all I’ve proved is that I can’t cram all those sports statistics into my head and retain the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Normal people have tried talking some sense into me. (“Hey, you gamble when you eat a sausage you could choke on. You gamble when you pull out of the driveway. You gamble when you show up at a workplace where someone could go postal.”) Surprisingly, this “pep talk” does not make me feel like a reborn toxic male who should lay $20 down on the Bengals. It makes me feel more like a blue-haired little old lady tugging the slot machine handle.
I try to empathize with people who are adrenaline junkies, but it’s not easy. Look at in-person gambling. You can have a bounty hunter, a decorated Vietnam veteran, a sex-reassignment surgeon and a fellow who claims to have died and spent 12 hours in heaven, all sitting around a poker table – but things don’t “get interesting” until someone adds a little more money to the pot. Forest for the trees, people.
One article I studied said the quiet part out loud: many sports “enthusiasts” aren’t particularly interested in the games unless they have money on the line. Forget millionaires giving each other concussions and coaches improvising strategy. Forget supporting the home team. It’s the wager.
OK. But if I lose interest in watching paint dry, I daresay I’ll move on to more promising entertainment, instead of dreaming up some bells and whistles to add to the paint. But that’s just me.
Remember: Watch gambling ads responsibly. And if you drink, don’t drive over blue-haired little old ladies.
Or I’m going upside your brain’s pleasure centers.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org