Sunday, September 27, 2015

Human Nature, Sports Books and Myths

Which came first – no, not the chicken or the egg – vice, or the human nature that seems so prone to it?

Did the apple convey to Adam the desire he was feeling towards it, or was the emotion already inside him seeking an object for its affection?

The Greek myths offer us the tale of Pandora’s Box. The nefarious Zeus essentially had enclosed within this exquisite package the Seven Deadly Sins. The crafty king of the gods then delivered this time-bomb to Pandora and the slow-witted Epimetheus as a wedding gift. The inevitable raising of the lid would and did foist its contents upon mortal man.

But hold up a second there, Syllogism-breath!

Did not the wily Zeus greatly enhance the odds of this little scheme’s success by making Pandora the most attractive and alluring creature ever, the better to entice the interest of an eligible bachelor?

Was not the Box itself elaborately bejeweled and bedazzled?

And have not chauvinists ever after made poor Pandora the archetype of an overly curious gender?

Seems as if there was some capacity for sinnin’ prior to the Grande Opening, wouldn’t you say?


I’ve been prompted to these esoterically ethical musings, perhaps ironically, by the relish with which media entities like Fox Sports and ESPN are incorporating fantasy line-ups, point spreads, et al into the content of their programming nowadays.

Let’s not be naïve, sports betting is nothing new – indeed more likely just another “Which Came First?” enigma. But that ol’ Black Sox Scandal in baseball a century ago kinda gave it a bad name and sent it underground.

As sports radio (perfected if not invented by Eddie Andelman and the Sports Huddle gang in Boston 40+ years ago) grew wide-spread, the lingo of gambling began to work its way back into the discussion – enveloped in a smoke screen of comparative analysis, in order not to cross some rather fuzzy lines.

And now … OverUnder.com sponsors Outside the Lines.

Fate was kind to me when it comes to this particular human vice – well-grounded, Depression-era parents not the least of those kindnesses … also learned a lesson or two in Wonderland, the old greyhound track in Revere.

A moral dilemma always seems less confounding in hindsight. In the moment, everything is “situational,” i.e. subject to the circumstances and involving some unknowns. Hindsight’s advantage has always been less about clarity/20-20 vision and more about a fuller awareness of the situation and its ramifications.

On the level of instinct, we are designed to seek gratification, whether it be a hungry toddler hollering to be fed or an old body succumbing to an afternoon snooze.

On the intellectual level, we come to understand and appreciate such notions as delayed gratification and a greater good.

Out of this oxymoron, society evolved.

The interplay of these contrasting impulses that steer decision-making creates the panorama that is the full range of human behavior, replete with both virtue and vice.

For example, my instincts are telling me that it's time to wrap up this diatribe, that a bell – more like a buzzer, actually (we live across the street from a high school; I can’t seem to escape that “sound”) – is supposed to ring about now.

Another waste of valuable instructional time. Tsk, tsk.

I guess we’ll just have to defer that ever-so-vital BenchMark Assessment for Objective 14.63, huh?