A tongue-in-cheek website aimed at five-year-old sports bettors may soon find a home on the world wide web. An Australian group of concerned citizens known only as "SimBet" has threatened to launch their brainchild, SimBet.com. A representative said the site was created because most kids will probably “give (sports betting) a go at some point.” It makes sense, therefore, to begin teaching children about sports betting at “a young age.”
Outrageous Premise, Phony Testimonials
SimBet advocates are hoping to catch the world's attention through the ridiculousness of their website. SimBet.com is poised to go live in February. Touted benefits include educational “betting lessons," the advancement of children's intelligence to “genius” status, and "fun for the whole family." The website uses phony testimonials as a way to illustrate their point. “SimBet made watching football with my dad way more fun! I won!” says a six-year-old boy. “At first I wasn't good at winning,” proclaims another child, “but then I won lots!”
The Effectiveness of SimBet.com
SimBet.com was conceived in protest to the fact that sports betting ads frequently accompany TV sports broadcasts in Australia. While the ads are aimed at adults, members of SimBet dislike the fact that children see them as well. Through their tongue-in-cheek website, they hope to create a wave of social media outrage that will “force changes” in current broadcasting policy. Mark Henley, a welfare advocate from Uniting Communities, said he fears SimBet's humor strategy is “too subtle." Rather than using humor to make a point, Henley suggests the activists push for “stronger regulation and enforcement" outright.
SimBet has been inspired by KidBet, a campaign by the Victorian government, that want young people out of sports betting activities
Twitter Feed Gives Ultimatum
Using a Twitter account called @SimBetcom, the group recently issued an ultimatum: Unless sports betting ads are “removed from live sports,” the website will launch in February. Conversely, the Twitter feed promised to “shut (SimBet.com) down if sports betting ads are removed from live sports.” The protestors admit that they themselves “love betting,” but they say that the advertising is “too much.”
Critics Suspect Empty Threats
Critics have wondered aloud if SimBet members really have the technology to produce an interactive betting website. The threats made by SimBet organizers could be empty ones. Yet another theory exists that SimBet is actually a social sports betting company trying to get some media attention. At this point, the identities of the activists are unknown.
Sarcasm Campaigning in Other Contexts: Obama and Romney
SimBet is not the first organization to use humor to get its point across. As presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney prepared for the 2012 election, sarcastic jabs similar to those on SimBet were flung back and forth between the parties. When Clint Eastwood gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in August of 2012, he spent most of his time interacting with an imaginary Obama in an empty chair. The Republicans at the convention received Eastwood's performance enthusiastically. Outside of the convention, however, some Eastwood fans expressed disappointment in his "rambling" improvisation.
Hillary Clinton Sarcastically Shames Obama
Four years earlier, when Obama and Hillary Clinton sparred for the Democratic presidential nomination, the candidates exchanged public words both heated and snarky. “Shame on you, Barack Obama!” Clinton declared as she accused her opponent of using attack-mode mailings to sway voters to his side. Clinton went on to become Secretary of State under Obama until five years later when, interestingly enough, she gave an interview to CBS News in which she warmly described Obama as her partner and friend.
Photo Blog Pokes Fun of Obamacare
A photo blog uses humorous captions to poke fun of Obamacare, the U.S. President's controversial health care system which recently went into effect. LMAObamacare.com features a captioned photo of Michelle Obama with thumbs up that reads "Exempt from Obamacare! Hell Yea!" Another photo shows Obama and his wife descending a flight of airplane stairs. The caption: "Racking Up More Frequent Liar Miles." Readers of this blog can share the photos and captions they like with friends on Facebook and Twitter. The creators of the blog, while they might not have a succinct political agenda, definitely use humor to make their point.
Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner
Satirist Stephen Colbert gives a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Republicans on his show, The Colbert Report, as well as in his writings and guest appearances. In 2006, Colbert attended a White House dinner at which he smilingly criticized George W. Bush within a 20-foot range of the former president. Colbert said, "I stand by this man because . . . he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers . . . and that sends a strong message . . . (America) will always rebound - with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."
Colbert's jokes were not well received by the guests at the dinner, but he didn't allow their chilly reception to slow down his schtick. In 2010, Colbert appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee to testify in character on behalf of migrant workers. He concluded his hilarious performance with a serious Biblical reference that explained his motivation for the comedy: 'Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers.'
The Onion and Gambling Satire
TheOnion.com is a popular news satire website. Unlike the members of SimBet and the politicians mentioned above, The Onion uses satire and sarcasm in the absence of an ulterior political motive. The Onion's main goal is to elicit laughs and gain readers through its humorous articles. Here are a few funny gambling-related titles:
- "Family Confronts Gambling Addict About Roulette Table in Dresser Drawer"
- "On-Line Gambling Too Depressing to Even Think About"
- "UNLV Study Finds Gambling Addiction Treatable With Heroin"
- "Study: 83 Percent of Gamblers Quit Right Before They Would Have Hit the Big One"
Whether the members of SimBet have the skills to pull off SimBet.com remains to be seen. They are in good company, however, when it comes to those individuals who use humor and sarcasm to communicate their point of view.