An Overlooked Election Result

Nine days ago, the US had its mid-term elections.  If you have tuned into any of the cable news networks between then and now, you have been inundated with commentary, punditry and analysis of who voted how and why.  Not to worry; I am not going to give you any added information along those lines here, but I do want to mention something that was on a ballot last week that has drawn no coverage that I have seen or heard on the cable news outlets:

  • Voters in California rejected two ballot initiatives that would have made sports betting legal in California.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that each state could choose to have or not to have sports betting within its borders, 33 of the 50 states have instituted legalized sports betting.  Voters in California had two options to establish sports betting there and they rejected both by overwhelming numbers.

  1. Proposition 26 would have legalized sports betting at racetracks and at casinos on tribal lands.  It was voted down 70% – 30%.
  2. Proposition 27 would have legalized mobile sports betting within the state.  It was voted down 83%-17%.

As you might imagine, these initiatives were supported by sports gambling companies like FanDuel and DraftKings and there was a lot of political advertising in support of the initiatives in the weeks leading up to the election.  Nevertheless, the will of the people in California came through loudly and clearly with those voting margins.

If you have followed any of these rants for any period of time, you know that I am in favor of legalized sports betting for purely pragmatic reasons.  The fact is that those overwhelming rejections of ballot initiatives last week will not stop the citizenry of California from betting on sporting events such as NFL games.  People reporting on those election results never seem to point out that local bookies in every major population center in California remain in business affording someone there who wants “to get down” on “Niners – 7 points against the Cardinals this week” the means to do so.

Gambling is a part of human nature – for better or worse.  People will bet on games legally or illegally.  So, my position is that states should make it legal and then tax the companies’ profits for the states’ general funds.  Voters in California see it differently and so I guess bettors there will continue to have to make the trek to Las Vegas to “get down” on sports action.

[Aside:  One report I read said that pro-gambling interests could still get legalized sports betting in California if the Legislature and Governor enact enabling legislation.  Good luck with that.  The politicians in the Legislature and the Governor himself will not act considering the overwhelming vote just a week ago.  Chances of that happening are Fat, No and Slim.]

Speaking of betting on sports, let me go off on a slight detour here and pose this question:

  • Has the NFL’s pursuit of parity overachieved?

The mantra of the league has long been, “On any given Sunday…”  And this year the parity in the league is significant.

  • Seven of the 32 teams are within one game of .500
  • Eleven of the 32 teams are within two games of .500.

There is no dynasty in the league and the two teams that have been the targets of scorn in recent years (Jags and Lions) have both escaped the basement of their divisions as of this morning.  Instead of the league breaking into three general categories of “The Haves”, “The Have Nots” and “The Question Marks”, it appears as if the NFL in 2022 consists of:

  • “The Better Than Averages”
  • “The Great Unwashed Middle”
  • “The Needs Work”

I suggest here that fans everywhere want “great teams”/”dynasty teams” so that fans of the “great teams” can revel in reflected glory and fans of “other teams” can hate on the successes of the great teams.  When an underdog beats a leviathan that was favored by 14 points, there is a lot of emotion spilling out on both sides of that outcome.  When Team A with a record of 7-6 beats Team B with a record of 6-7, the fans of Team A are happy – – but nowhere near ecstatic.

Let me be clear; the NFL has no reason to worry about this in 2022 or for the foreseeable future.  One can extrapolate the situation that exists now to a point where the best teams finish the season at 11-6 and the worst teams finish at 6-11 and fans become less enthusiastic and turn to other diversions.  If that is ever going to happen, it will be decades from now.  Today, the NFL enjoys the interest and the attention of millions of people who play fantasy football and fantasy players do not focus on team successes and failures; fantasy players only care about individual stats.  Those millions of fans do not and will not care if “The Great Unwashed Middle” expands to cover as many as 25 teams in some future season.

Finally, since some of today’s essay dealt with mediocrity, let me close with this observation on the subject:

“Radio is a bag of mediocrity where little men with carbon minds wallow in sluice of their own making.”  Fred Allen

[Aside:  And remember that Fred Allen never had to listen to sports talk radio…]

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



One thought on “An Overlooked Election Result”

  1. We always laughed at the implied goal of mediocrity among the NFL teams.

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

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