Sports define American culture. We are awash in football analogies, baseball analogies. Home runs, strike outs, punting, fumbles, quarterbacks; you can’t chuck a ball of paper at a dustbin without invoking Kobe.
And yet you may rest assured, sports in America are not sports anywhere else. I’m not speaking of the divide in chosen sports, rather that American sports are overwhelmingly winner-take-all, honed on a singular goal and little regard to those who don’t take first prize. Do you recall the 18-1 Patriot season? Was it a success or a failure, as they failed to capture a Super Bowl? That old college football perfectionist streak infects everything. “If you ain’t first, you’re last” was a joke in Talladega Nights but this whole country is full of people who think like Ricky Bobby.
Sports and Americana are so utterly entangled. That’s why it’s becoming more alarming as the whole of the sport becomes more and more sick.
The last few years have witnessed a sudden and thorough transformation. The advent of legalized sports gambling in numerous states is nothing new, but this past calendar year the arrival has become far too sudden. We’ve moved beyond the comfortable expansion of gambling; now it’s time for aggressive advertising.
It’s no longer enough to watch a sporting event; hell it’s not even enough if you’re placing a few bets. You must, MUST be bombarded with reminders of same-game parlays, new customer bonuses, the whole nine. That last part always struck me odd. Who is the new addict they’re trying to score anyway? Those spots with Kenny Mayne and the Mannings don’t have much of an audience who don’t already know.
The suspension of numerous NFL players, including Detroit Lions wide receive Jameson Williams, due to gambling activities shouldn’t be seen as surprising, or shocking even. You could “tsk, tsk” and point to old hoary stories about the Black Sox, signs up telling people not to gamble; but come the hell on, this is the demographic the books are targeting. Young, competitive, sports-obsessed men, with enough disposable income to take a risk for fun and prosperity. Lads who want to be on top, who want to be right and back a winner; maybe leery about pure luck and won’t touch a slot machine but who believe they’re deploying skill in their picks.
The trick of it is that it’s extremely easy now. The phone is right there, no need to even talk to someone. It’s not real money anyway, you won’t ever see it.
It’s not enough to be advertising. Taking a page from tech startups trying to rummage around in places they don’t belong, sportsbooks have aggressively taken partnerships or straight ownership in sports media companies and verticals. The race is on, and it’s on hard, to grab every last piece of territory, the mad scramble for a digital fiefdom from which that advertising and the promotion of gambling content can continue.
And like those tech startups, what happens when the money spigot eventually dries up, and expenses are cut, and those acquired media outlets are left to dry? Where do they turn to funding after that? Who’s even left to cozy up to for funding and sponsorship?
I can’t really be against gambling; it’s a fine weird little thing. But it has deleterious effects like all proper vices. But we haven’t even begun to see the full effects of a whole nation that went overnight from a taboo to an open activity, especially with a vice that brings a heady level of addiction and suicide from that addiction.
Of course, the operators would say the systems are working. Yes, the helpline calls are up, but isn’t that a good thing? We’re catching the players who are betting on their own games, it’s working, the system works! It’s one hell of a setup.
Here’s the truth of it. The best addicts are the best customers. It’s how the rest of the house gets financed. That’s a truth long known in Vegas, and now everywhere.
So here’s our lovely new sporting America. It’s not good enough to watch sports and have fun. Like everything else in this country, it feels like someone’s got their hand down in your pocket, rummaging around for change.
I try to make sure I have something to think about when I come up with a kool-aid recipe. After all, you don’t do recipes online without a preamble. So with all that gloom, here’s the cure: a proper chaser.
I fully admit I’ve been too busy to really put everything together and I may have gone too far in a few places. This is a prototype recipe, untested and unpredictable. Like all good prototypes, this could either explode or it could be more powerful than any model after it. This is the Gundam of my kool-aids. I think that fits for this year of Lions football. Act accordingly.
2023 Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid, Untested & Overly Complicated Edition
- 2 parts of citron vodka (clear, not yellow-colored)
- Actually, more vodka, why not
- 1 part white rum
- 1 part plum wine (optional. Choya is preference. I just like it, throw some in, why not)
- 2 parts blue curacao
- Chilled butterfly pea flower tea (if this changes colors from blue, add more blue curacao)
- club soda optional
- ice is nice
Shake like hell in a bartender shaker, or if making a larger batch use some big mason jar.
Serve in a tall glass, drink, watch Lions football, forget about everything else.