Friday, January 13, 2006

Big Tip from Easterbrook

Gregg Easterbrook is fun to read, especially if you like football. His football columns contain some very creative and, if you're reading it on Tuesday morning, superlatively obvious analysis of the way the game is played. His hindsight is better than anyone's. He also talks about everything else under the sun. Here's his assessment of gambling along with a moneymaking proposition:

My compromise with my Baptist upbringing is to be pro-topless but anti-gambling. Gambling destroys lives. No one should care how much Donald Trump loses at the roulette wheel, but average people are seduced with false promises of instant wealth and gamble away money they need to pay their bills. Government lotteries, which exist to bilk the poor and working-class, are as much to blame as any glittering casino or offshore sports book. That government lotteries market their tickets in convenience stores and liquor stores, places catering to the poor and working-class, ought to be a source of outrage. Since the global capital of toplessness is Las Vegas, my anti-gambling views cause me to have conflicted opinions about Nevada's glitter city. While gambling's main contributions to human existence are unhappiness and regret, erotic dancing seems something that celebrates one of the pleasures of this short life. I'd be perfectly content if Vegas was a city built on topless showgirls rather than slot machines.

My anti-gambling views declared, let me offer my annual sure-fire never-fails 800-number recorded-message free lock: bet the home teams in the NFL divisionals. Since the current playoff structure was adopted in 1990, home teams in the divisionals are 49-11. In all professional sports, no subset of teams enjoys the advantage known by NFL home teams in the divisionals round. Usually they are the best teams to begin with. They're playing at home. And they just finished a bye week, relaxing in hot tubs as their opponents were out in the cold being pounded.

He got in trouble a couple of years ago, basically for using the word "Jewish" and "money" in the same sentence. Although he explained himself the next day and elaborately apologized, he was fired from his ESPN gig. I have always thought that you should evaluate what people mean, not what they say. Trent Lott got what was coming to him, but most people slammed by the political correctness hammer, are basically innocent, and the furor has negative consequences for us all. Constantly monitoring one's speech and writings can be costly to creativity and openness. By all means, he should have been challenged, but his apology should have been easily accepted.

I mean, so what if Joe Paterno talks like a mildly misogynistic 80 year-old football coach from Brooklyn. That's what he is, and what he said had some truth to it. Cut him some slack! He may be from a different era, but he is honest, decent, generous and brave. He has done as much good for the Pennsylvania State University as the half-dozen presidents he has outlasted, and he is striking a blow against ageism as we speak. He also agrees with Gregg Easterbrook and me on the gambling thing. I don't know about the topless part, though.

It's also obvious here that NOW has succumbed to the PETA syndrome. Picking on Joe Paterno is not going to win you many friends.

1/13/2006 2:22 PM

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