Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues



10/2: Gambling in America

Last week’s discussion about college athletics has prompted a follow-up on the impact of gambling on sports, income inequality, and our society in general.

Although there are plenty of ways to approach this topic, here’s a link to get us started:

  • Who gains from gaming/gambling? Who loses?
  • Is gambling a “tax” (statistically speaking) on low-income people?
  • If so, should something be done to address that, or should individuals be free to pursue their own vices?
  • Are gaming revenues/taxes too tempting for politicians to refuse?
  • Does the ability gamble on sports activities taint the underlying sport?
    • How to avoid the temptation to “fix” matches?
    • Is there a difference (from a gambling perspective) between professional and amateur sports?
  • How do other societies that have been more open to gambling dealt with these potential issues?

9/25: Professionalism in College Sports

With the college football season well underway, we’ll take up one of the “sports topics of the year.” Not Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes, but the question of how/whether “amateur” college athletes should be compensated and educated.

Here are a handful of articles and other resources to get the discussion started:

Starter questions:

  • Should college athletes be amateurs or paid for their performances?
  • How should education be prioritized for college athletes?
  • What limits to types of compensation should be applied to college athletes? Where on the spectrum from “can be compensated for washing dishes in the college cafeteria” (unrelated to athletics) to “can be compensated for performance on the athletic field” (directly related)?
  • How can/should third party (i.e., booster group) interactions with athletes be regulated?

9/18: Effectiveness of DEI Programs

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis in the corporate, academic, and government worlds for “DEI”–Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion–programs. In efforts to increase the diversity of their workforces and other stakeholders, these entities have established DEI departments, training, report cards, and other initiatives to push the effort forward.

  • How effective are these programs, really?
  • What efforts have been successful (and which have not), and why?
  • Can successful programs be easily replicated, or are the reasons for the success confounded with entity-specific attributes?
  • How strong is the evidence that a diverse workforce is a “better” (whatever that means) workforce?

To get the discussion started, below are two links to two “Freakonomics” podcasts–with transcripts if you would prefer to read–and skip to the relevant bits–rather than to listen. As with most of the Freakonomics episodes, the associated web pages include links to the academic research cited during the discussion.

I recall reading some similar-themed articles in the NY Times and the Washington Post, but can’t put my hands on them at the moment. I’ll post them later if I have the time.

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