'Morality police' not in the rule book

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'Morality police' not in the rule book

Every sport has its loyal followers. Football is beloved by Americans and the British (aside from the fact that the Brits love the football that Americans call soccer). Curling is loved by the Scots, while in Korea that sport is only played by the national team, if that. And so it goes on.

Now, here is a game that is universally loved and for all I know it has even achieved true parity between male and female competitors, something not many games can claim.

These days in Korea, this game without boundaries -- which is not a sport -- has people who want to enjoy it standing in line to the extent that sports team owners could only dream of.

It's the game of lottery, but why suddenly the fuss? Because at one point it offered a jackpot of 100 billion won ($85 million), the biggest lottery prize this country ever saw. Well, as of today there won't be such a huge jackpot anymore because the government decided to curb the number of times a jackpot can be carried over to the next drawing in the event no winner has been chosen.

The reason given: To stop the spread of an "unhealthy" atmosphere! Whatever that's supposed to mean. I mean, gimme a break. I thought this was a free country! Every person has the right to seek happiness. Check the Constitution. It's written there loud and clear.

Now what do you think will make people happier? A jackpot where you can buy a house where the entire Lee clan, including all third-cousins, can live in harmony, or one with which you can do that and buy everyone an Aston Martin as a second car?

The truth is that this absurd reason has been used by the government and the media over and over, like a catchphrase from a movie that has become chic. And often at the expense of sport.

I still remember the early 1980s when going skiing was the subject of scrutiny. A scene from a ski resort would glimmer on TV with a dull voice in the background saying, "These days, the very limited number of people who are skiing is alienating others. The unhealthy atmosphere is a concern."

Now where do you see those lines now? Nobody talks anymore about skiers being the culprit in a deepening rift between social classes.

Now, has this nonsense vanished? Nope, not a bit. Golf is still standard fare on the news when TV stations have nothing to run. You always hear about golf trips abroad here and there and "the unhealthy atmosphere" line. All the while everybody screams "You da man!" to Choi Kyung-joo for piling up PGA titles.

It's no wonder that whenever a new government comes along reservations at golf clubs across the nation drop like a fireman on a pole.

How about betting on sports such as horse racing? Same story. People have been scrutinized for the same reason for placing bets with their own money.

This nonsense has to stop. Every person has the right to play games whether it is a lottery or a legitimate sport. The money to play it may have been earned the wrong way but that is a totally different problem. Who cares how you spend your money. If someone chooses to play golf or any other expensive sport with his own money, for all I care he can go to the moon and tee it up.

by Brian Lee
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