So sorry, great city. You’re still great.

[Swede Synopsis: Tea Party is an advertising gimmick. Skip to comments.]

imageProfessional and college football as they exist today are the stepchildren of gambling. Without that, they’d be but a minor obsession.

I used to care about teams and get some personal validation from their victories. This started as a child when I attached to the Milwaukee Braves and a Green Bay Packers. My mother’s family lived backed there, and I felt a connection. It did not hurt that they were really good teams.

Some time back in the early 90’s I got into a fantasy football league. Because the guy who ran the league absconded it’s the money, I took over the duties. What was fun hobby became a chore. But more interesting was that I could not watch a game with a team’s interest in mind. I could only think about individual performers. And more interesting yet, no matter the quality of the teams or their place in the standings, I usually had a financial reason to watch a game.

And more interesting yet, football became an annoyance. I always had that ulterior motive. I realized that I was not having fun, but rather obsessing, and quit. I’ve never much cared about it since.

Honestly, I’ve tried. I want to be a Denver Bronco fan, just to feel a part of this city. But last night sitting with relatives and feeling the genuine and sadness in that room, I whispered in my wife’s ear “It’s good not to care. Isn’t it.”

It was also good not to lose any money on the game. For every person who wins a bet, someone loses. In the long run, absent inside information, the odds are always 50-50.

I’m pretty good at politics. I can easily spot manipulation of the voting public. I see, for instance, that the Tea Party was not a natural occurrence, and that its primary beneficiary is Barack Obama. People don’t buy that. Not for a second. They cannot believe that political organizers are that smart, that much in control of the public mind. But they are. They really are that good.

And some time back, after I foolishly thought that the NFL might regard the rise of Fantasy Football as a problem, I realized that far from it, the NFL was behind the rise of that mass gambling enterprise.

The games are not rigged. But millions of (mostly) men and women have a reason to tune in to every game on TV, no matter the quality of the teams or their place in the standings.

During the football season I check out the upcoming schedule every week and go down the list … “don’t care … don’t care … don’t care …” Jacksonville vs. Tennessee? Houston vs. San Diego? I have learned to enjoy the athleticism for its own sake, but have to ignore the fact that these guys line up before games to take a shot of pain-killer in the ass.

Sorry about that, City of Denver. You’re still a great city. So is Seattle. Don’t get so down! It’s just a game. Most of those guys aren’t even from here.

7 thoughts on “So sorry, great city. You’re still great.

  1. The NFL doesn’t need a gambling connection. It’s a “non-profit” organization.

    Re: Tea Party. How does the refusal of their 501c4 applications fit into to your manipulation theory?


    1. This notion that the NFL is non-profit – where the hell did you hear that? I’ve seen it too. It’s nonsense. It is most likely a pass-through entity, but all 32 teams are taxable entities, even the Packers. It’s one of the biggest and most sacred cash cows in history.

      You Tea Party people are hardly what I would call “self-aware.” If you were being manipulated, you’d be the last to know. (You are, and you are.)


      1. The NFL (as a whole) had a profit of $10B last year. But then there’s this.

        “But the NFL goes one better by having developed a revenue machine through creating intellectual property, licensing logos and names for merchandising, negotiating deals for televising games, and running the schedule of games, including producing the Super Bowl. And that machine is a printing press for money:

        Revenue for the league, not counting what the teams made, was $255.3 million.
        The top eight league officials made a total of $50.1 million in 2011 from the NFL or related organizations, with commissioner Roger Goodell seeing about $29.5 million in his paycheck.
        The league received another $10.4 million (including nearly $7.6 million to former commissioner Paul Tagliabue).
        In 2011, the NFL paid $35.9 million for office construction, $13.5 million in office rent, $6.7 in IT consulting, and $6.7 million in travel expenses.
        Total travel expenses topped $11 million.
        It had notes and loans owed to it of nearly $620.8 million.
        For all the income, expenses were even higher at almost $333 million.
        The organization spent more than $1.5 million on lobbying.-ABC News.


        1. Non-profit = “not for profit” – you’re talking about operating losses for a for-profit entity. I also think that you are talking about the entity that acts as the group’s nominee, passing expenses and revenue through to the teams, who each have their own revenue streams (tickets, concessions, subsidies from taxpayers, etc.)

          No way is the NFL losing money. That’s absurd. Franchises are so valuable that even the lowly Raiders did not cash out when Al Davis died.

          But here is the gambling connection, and the reason why we have fantasy football: The heart and soul of the league is TV revenue. The more people who watch, the more revenue the TV contract brings. Fantasy football gives all fans a reason to watch all the ball games, and not just their own team.

          Genius, no? That’s why I say that Fantasy Football was an invention of NFL marketing. WHO else benefits?


  2. Please do keep in mind that football is a mythology like many others, which most all healthy humans have. And as such many of us embrace those myths without the taint of the money lenders, even in fantasy football. If you have a complaint it is with the manipulation of the band-wagonneers, those who suddenly like team X because they looked so good against that team whose colors don’t look right, or the one who lost so badly. Still, there are those of us who realize and acknowledge the damage of the competition, the strength it takes the athletes to prevail, and the joy of participating in the achievement of athletes even knowing that it’s a myth.

    No, this is not bread-and-circuses, any more than the fantasy that screaming for social justice at a keyboard will make it happen. Everyone has their hobbies. It’s not really that big a distraction at all.


    1. I don’t begrudge anyone a hobby and realize how much you enjoy the game. I wrote about my own experience, about how when I quit the obsessive (penny-ante) gambling on the games, I lost interest. I have never gambled on baseball* but enjoy it probably as much as you do football.

      I also wrote about how fantasy football was a manipulative enterprise to power up TV ratings by making all games have minor stakes for fans everywhere, and not just the loyal city fans. When I did it, before I became the “commish,” I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am more like everyone I know than anyone I know.

      Here’s something interesting: back during one of the strikes years ago, the players association, thinking they were the game, staged their own games but without the uniforms. No one came. We brand on franchises. It boils down to what Seinfeld said about baseball, how a player is a hero when he’s in your uniform and a traitor when he moves to another team – that we are rooting for laundry.

      *Oops – World Series office pools.


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