Either/Or (Both?)

One of the basic lessons in a logic class is the distinction between two types of disjunction. On the one hand, there is the exclusive disjunction that maintains either A or B, but not both. The inclusive disjunction, which is considerably more common suggests that either A or B, possibly both. In the latter case I might have either soup or a sandwich for lunch, possibly both. In the former case the traffic light is either green or red, it cannot be both (at the same time).

One of the “big” issues that is taking up considerable air time these days is (not global warming, but) one-day fantasy football leagues like “Fan Duel.” A number of states, including Nevada (!), have insisted that these games are a form of gambling and they have disallowed them in the state until or unless they are licensed. The N.C.A.A. has determined to penalize college football payers who get involved, because the N.C.A.A. likes to present itself as the guardian of purity in college sports. States like Nevada, I presume, want a cut of the profits which, we are told, run to the billions of dollars. Those who defend the activity insist that it is not gambling, but a game of skill. In a word, they insist there is an exclusive disjunction that insists that weekly fantasy leagues either are gambling or they are games of skill. And since they are games of skill they cannot be a form of gambling. But this is clearly false: we have here an inclusive disjunction, because it could be both: fantasy football leagues might be both gambling and a game of skill — like poker.

In the end, it strikes me as a tempest in a teapot. The issue is clear: the football one day fantasy leagues that are raking in billions of dollars and paying countless millions to swamp the TV networks with advertisements are clearly both games of skill (one needs to know a thing or two about football) and a form of gambling, since players pay in to the leagues and stand to win big if the players they pick each week pay off.

When I become Commissar of Culture I will rule this entire discussion out of order. These games are a form of gambling, period. So, isn’t it time we turned to more important issues? Heaven knows there are tons of them out there!


5 thoughts on “Either/Or (Both?)

  1. Of course they are gambling. Of course, Tom Brady wanted the footballs deflated. Of course, Bill had sexual relations with Monica. Of course, Richard Nixon was a crook. Of course, climate change is real and man-influenced……

  2. Hugh, I think at least some of the fantasy-draft sites may meet the gambling threshold, because a person can simply pay and then have the computer/web site draft the team for them. They would not need any knowledge or skill in those instances.

    But, yes, the bigger issue is money and who’s making it. (Isn’t it always?) The NCAA, as you know of course, doesn’t give a whit about collegiate/amateur sports purity, but wants a big slice of that big pie. So do the NFL and NBA. The NBA’s commissioner has been proactive, for whatever that’s worth, in trying to get the league to set up its own fantasy draft leagues and do away with things like Draft Kings, Vegas, etc.

    It’s so twisted. There seems to be more worry and time and money spent on the fantasy games than there is on actually enjoying the game on the field or court.

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