Friday, March 11, 2016

Tenessee Legislature Living in "Fantasyland" and Out of Touch with Reality

I'm baaaack!!

The Sheepdog has been off his post since September. There has been a lot, and I mean a lot, going on. I've been busy with family, a little deer hunting, and trying to win fantasy football championships. Plus, I'd gotten so burned out with all the political crap on TV and the net, I just wasn't motivated to do any blogging. I was even contemplating "blogging retirement", but the Tennessee Legislature has gone nutso again, so I'm back.

Photograph of the Tennessee State Capitol on a...
Photograph of the Tennessee State Capitol on a sunny day, the central cupola soaring against a clear sky. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Speaking of fantasy football, if you're a player in the state of Tennessee, guess what? The legislature is wanting to start regulating fantasy football and all other fantasy sports. I had not heard about it until I received an e-mail from DraftKings two days ago which said:
We need your help!

We've been working hard to protect your right to play fantasy sports in Tennessee. Now we are asking that you pitch in to ensure you can continue to play the games you love!

Please click here to email your elected officials using our simple tool, and ask them to support SB 2109 and HB 2105, so that together we can keep fantasy sports legal and accessible throughout Tennessee. These bills ensure common sense consumer protections so fans like you are protected.

Thanks, as always, for continuing to support us while we work to protect your rights. With your help, we know we can make #fantasyforall a reality.

DraftKings supports a bill which will allow the state to begin regulating their industry? Does that make any sense to you? It doesn't to me, because regulation ALWAYS brings with it government intrusion and drives up cost of operations.

What will HB 2105 / SB 2109 actually do? If passed into law the legislation will be known as the Fantasy Sports Act of 2016, establish the Tennessee Fantasy Sports Commission, and require fantasy sports companies to register with the state and pay an application fee, licensure fee, and renewal fee, a.k.a. taxes. It would also "require fantasy sports contest operators to report annually all winnings earned by fantasy sports players on online platforms supported by the fantasy sports contest operator to the Commission."

WTH? Why does the state of Tennessee need to know which Tennesseans have won fantasy sports contests and how much they've won? Since Tennessee does not have a state income tax, because one is prohibited by the state constitution, why does the state need to know that? Could it be that it hopes to one day find a loophole so that the winnings can be taxed? Maybe "Big Brother" just wants to watch something else.

I find DraftKings support of the bill rather curious. Go read their e-mail above again. Pay careful attention to how it's worded. Do you see what I see? I don't think DraftKings actually supports the bill. I think the state has strong armed them into "supporting" it by making it known to them that if they don't agree to being regulated, then they will be banned from doing business in Tennessee. Remember when the news reports came out that the state of New York wanted an injunction prohibiting FanDuel and DraftKings from operating there? Same kinda thing.

The bill's sponsors are Rep. Pat Marsh (R), Rep. Darren Jernigan (D), and Sen. Jack Johnson (R). If you're a Tennessean who plays and enjoys fantasy football and other fantasy sports, I encourage you to call or e-mail the three sponsors above and voice your displeasure with the bill. You can find their contact info by clicking on their names above. Yesterday, I sent the three of them the e-mail below. Please note my reasons within it for my opposition to this bill.
Rep. Marsh, Rep. Jernigan, and Sen. Johnson :

Yesterday, in an e-mail from DraftKings, I learned of the Fantasy Sports Act of 2016 for the first time. I suspect that scores of other Tennesseans had the same experience, and had the same reaction that I did, which was something along the lines of “What the …?”

Many of us enjoy fantasy sports. It adds to the experience of being a sports fan. I have only played fantasy football. Mainly because football is the only sport I follow closely. I’ve played free fantasy football leagues and ones with a fee. I plan on playing fantasy football again this coming year. However, the new, proposed legislation has me wondering what affects it will have on the “game”.

In the e-mail I received, DraftKings says it supports the legislation, but the question is why is it even needed? Do it’s participants, such as I, need protecting? The answer is no, but some claim otherwise by pointing to the incident where an employee of one fantasy sports company won a large sum of money on a competitor’s website. Some argued that the person capitalized on so-called “insider information”. The problem with such an opinion is that doing your homework and luck are what determines whether a participant has success in fantasy sports. All the “insider information” in the world will not help you if other things don’t go your way. Allow me to explain below.

There are no guarantees in fantasy sports. For instance, on my fantasy football team’s roster I could have Peyton Manning as my quarterback and Adrian Peterson as one of my running backs. Let’s say that one week during the NFL season, Manning’s Broncos’ offense is up against the worse pass defense in the NFL and Peterson’s Vikings and their offense is up against the worse run defense. One would think that each should have a good game and anyone who has them on their fantasy football team roster that week should score a lot of points. However, one thing that is certain about fantasy football and football in general – there are no guarantees.

Consider this - what if it’s snowing in Denver, Manning does not throw the ball much and only gets my fantasy football team 12 points when I’m expecting at least 25 from him? Likewise, what if the Vikings get behind in their game early, have to go to passing the ball to play catch up, and therefore Peterson only nets about 50 yards rushing netting my fantasy team only 5 points when I was expecting at least 12-15? Or, what if both those guys get hurt in the first quarter of their games and cannot return to the game? Guess what? My fantasy football team is likely to have a bad day, score few points, and me lose in either scenario. I had two great matchups for my two best players, but in each scenario, it got me zilch. That’s fantasy football. Like I said earlier, there are no guarantees. Good luck can be your friend and bad luck can be your worst enemy and ruin your day no matter how good the matchup looks, or how much “insider information” you think you have. I know – it’s happened to me many times. It’s part of it.
So, in the aforementioned “insider information” situation which was in the news, luck, yes luck, had more to do with that than “insider information”. Fantasy sports do involve skill, because a player has to do their homework by reading scouting reports, keeping up with free agency, following the real draft, monitoring injury reports, studying the stats to look for trends, etc. Doing these things helps a participant put the best team together possible. However, once your lineup is set, there is nothing the participant can do to help the outcome. I can’t make my quarterback throw for 400 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions each week. He either does it or does not. He may get me 30 points, or like in the scenario above with Manning, he may get me 12. There’s absolutely nothing I can do once the weekly games start and my roster locks. So, if the reasoning behind this bill’s proposal was that Tennesseans need to be protected from “insider information” when playing fantasy sports, then the bill has been proposed based upon flawed reasoning and a lack of understanding of how fantasy sports work.
One of the year-long fantasy football leagues I was in this year saw a buddy get bit by a ton of bad luck early. Our draft was held before pre-season was over with. His 1st round pick was Jordy Nelson (WR – GB) and his 2nd round pick was Andrew Luck (QB – Indy). Unfortunately for him, Nelson blew out his knee, was lost for the year, and never played a down during the regular season. Luck played poorly early on, then got injured, and was subsequently lost for the year, too. My buddy’s season went up in flames because of those two injuries. So, where am I going with all this? It’s very simple. With this bill, you gentlemen are trying to regulate “luck” and the homework a fantasy sports participant must do in order to be successful. It’s absurd at best, and a good argument can be made that it’s another big government overreach which creates another big government program and amounts to another piece of nanny state legislation. I can’t help but wonder if this bill is just another way to generate more revenue through the charging of fees, a.k.a. taxes, to the fantasy sports companies which they will in turn pass down to consumers, like me, in the form of higher fees to play the games. This bill could lead to free fantasy sports leagues going away completeIy since the fantasy sports companies will now have to pay an additional “tax”. Is that what you gentleman want?

I see no positives coming from this legislation, but only the negatives of another government bureaucracy and higher fees for consumers. Therefore, for all the aforementioned reasons, I’m asking the bill be taken off notice. It is a bad bill.

Tennessee has many other problems the legislature needs to be working on. There are infrastructure problems, including roads that need to be paved. Many Tennesseans do not have adequate healthcare. Many Tennesseans are out of jobs because overregulation, like this bill, has kept good companies from coming to Tennessee and providing jobs. Our education system also needs work, primarily because too much government intrusion has made life hard for teachers. I could go on and on.

However, instead of working on the aforementioned problems, you guys want to spend time on regulating “fantasy sports”. Seriously? The key word here is “fantasy”. It’s basically, as my buddy says, “a make believe game”. So please, stop wasting time on a “fantasy” and get back to dealing with REAL problems that affect Tennesseans every day. That’s what your constituents voted you into office to do, and it’s what we taxpayers pay you for.

It’s time for the legislature to get out of “fantasy” and back to reality.

Johnny Black
I'm not expecting any responses from any of them, because the e-mail was a little, ... well, harsh. I'll admit it. It's just that I'm tired of the current legislature. Since it went under Republican control, it has been out of control. It's stuck its nose in education and made life extremely hard for teachers. Ask any teacher. They've stuck their nose into the healthcare of Tennesseans who have severe allergies by limiting the amount of medication they can buy. Allergy sufferers have been basically punished for the sins of the meth dealers. In fact, I talked to a friend this morning who is having allergy problems and cannot buy any more meds to combat the symptoms because of it. She's "over her limit". I could go on and on about how the legislature has overreached due to "nanny state-itis", but it would take all day.

And now, instead of tackling the real issues that are important to Tennesseans, such as the ones I listed in my e-mail to the bill's sponsors, the Tennessee Republican-controlled legislature wants to waste time discussing, debating, and passing a bill to regulate fantasy sports. Are you freakin' kidding me?

Now, fantasy sports regulation is not a big deal in the overall scheme of things. I know that. What really bothers me about the bill, as mentioned above, is that Tennessee has much bigger issues that need to be dealt with but yet the politicians on working on this crappy, unneeded legislation. It's now more apparent than ever that the Tennessee Legislature is living in "fantasyland" and completely out of touch with reality. It's time to speak up and say enough is enough.

If we don't, then where will it stop?   

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