Friday, August 30, 2013

How Far Does Responsibility Extend In A Virtual World?

Cory has an interesting post about New Jersey Court determining that people who send texts may be held liable if they know the persons they're texting are driving. According to the court, the texter is "electronically present." It's unclear how texters are to become omniscient so they know if they are initiating a text to person who is driving, but rulings like this one seem to spread. People may soon have to get used to dealing with the perils of being "electronically present" or "virtual world responsible."

A.G. Gancarski examines a the "virtual world responsibility" by asking whether those who play fantasy sports, especially fantasy football bear for those players who suffer concessions or other brain trauma:
There is something sinister about fantasy sports, the idea of “owning” athletes whose careers are necessarily ephemeral and fetishizing their abstracted statistical performance. This is especially true with football, that most brutal of all mainstream entertainments.. . .
Now it’s easy to run as many fantasy football teams as one can manage, as sites like Yahoo and ESPN offer platforms with mobile phone apps—no matter where you are, you’re never without the chance to make a waiver claim on a hot new star at a skill position. The ubiquity of access to fantasy football and other fantasy sports has made it a billion-dollar industry with roughly 27 million players covering almost 20 percent of American males. Even Louisiana Governor (and possible 2016 presidential contender) Bobby Jindal live-tweeted his own fantasy draft last week.
Theres a hard reality behind the fantasy, however. Despite the best efforts of Max Boot—or was it Daniel Flynn?—to debunk The War on Football, those who watch the sport even sporadically know the stakes for those on the field: severe injury is a possibility on any given play.
I realize professional football players play the game because they make millions not because fantasy football geeks play a game in which football players' statistics determines the winner of the fantasy game. That said, the fantasy player seems to bear a small moral responsibility for being a part, however small, of the revenue stream that creates the $9 billion National Football League.

If one may have a legal culpability for being "electronically present," one likely has a moral culpability for playing fantasy football. One certainly doesn't need to be omniscient to know to that professional football players will suffer concussions during every season

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