How did McGinn, Constantine's Seahawks bets benefit the public?
On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons flag flew in Seattle. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn had made a bet with the Atlanta mayor over Sunday's NFL playoff game between the Seahawks and the Falcons, and the loser had to fly the winning team's flag.
King County Executive Dow Constantine wagered coffee against his counterpart in Georgia, who offered Coca Cola products.
These bets are a long-standing tradition among public officials when their teams make the post-season. They have also long felt like a cheap way to get positive news coverage.
Rather than betting meaningless stuff, it's time for elected officials to start making bets that benefit the public. Instead of sending coffee or soda, the losing county executive could donate a crate of canned food to a homeless shelter in the other city. The NFL and United Way have partnered to recruit one million volunteers, and players are competing to sign up the most volunteers. How about if the losing mayor committed eight weekend hours to volunteer for United Way, and the hours would count toward a winning team player's tally?
This isn't about sour grapes and resentment over seeing the Falcon banner flying high in the Seattle fog. This is about public officials serving the public, setting an example and still cheering the hometown team. It might inspire philanthropy among fans.
During the weekend of the Seattle-Washington game, I started trash talking some D.C. journalist friends via Facebook. Two journalists at the Washington Post and Boston Globe challenged me to a $100 donation to a nonprofit we support, the Asian American Journalists Association. That game netted $200 for the nonprofit.
Last weekend, I made the same wager with a Vancouver, B.C., journalist for Omni who favored the Falcons. And this weekend, the same Vancouver journalist is making another donation wager with a San Francisco Chronicle journalist in the Falcons-49ers game.
I made my donation on Monday after the Seahawks' loss. It took some of the sting out of the loss knowing Seattle's loss was helping a nonprofit mission, instead of just giving someone else the right to gloat. McGinn and Constantine would probably feel the same way.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics