According to an article in Mormon Times I guess there is some controversy on whether to participate in March Madness NCAA basketball pools. I have been filling these out in one form or another since I was 14 and really do not have a problem with it. Most LDS people are troubled by the gambling aspect and have internal debates about just telling coworkers no or calling them to repentance for being sinners of the vilest kind (as in any amount of money is gambling and you will go to hell).
This always troubles me as some people feel the need to make mountains out of molehills and further alienate themselves from their personal communities – somehow believing by setting themselves up on a pedestal everyone will come and bask in their glory. To extend the metaphor, what actually happens is they end up all alone with birds crapping on them. When I go to the movies I am betting that for 6 dollars I will get back an entertainment experience equal to that amount or more. Sometimes I win (The Dark Knight) and sometimes I lose, big time (Pokemon 2000); but the big picture is I am gambling money to get an entertainment experience.
When I go to Nevada (4 times in 40 years), I play the quarter slots. Typically I get a roll (10 dollars) and I see how long that will last, usually getting 2 hours out of it. So in my mind I am paying 10 bucks for 2 hours entertainment. When March Madness comes around and someone asks if I want to pay a dollar to compete and bond with my peers, I am in. Am I playing to win money? No. I am paying a very small amount for the experience. When Lisa goes skydiving this summer for her birthday, she is paying 200 dollars and actually gambling she will not die; but we define it as she is paying $200 for the experience.
That is what I don’t get when the self-righteous start spouting off. My one dollar once a year to bond with my coworkers and have fun makes me a bad sinner going to hell, yet my wife’s 200 dollars to gamble her life makes her awesome and adventurous? Do people actually think about what they are saying? I guess the more fundamental question to ask is there a difference between gambling and entertainment?
NOTE: I actually run a March Madness pool at my office for people who no nothing about basketball and/or just want to have fun. I do not charge anything to play and the winner gets to brag about how great they are. Mainly it is all the women I work with who participate, and right now two of them are sitting with 15 out of the sweet sixteen correct (one of them picked teams based on whose name sounded better). So there are other solutions then alienating yourself.
SECOND NOTE: Lisa is TOTALLY awesome for skydiving. And if worse comes to worse, her life insurance is fully paid up. CA-CHING and sign me up for LDS singles dot whatever!!