Police Use Free Football Tickets to Capture Deadbeat Dads

For a divorced parent, paying your child support should be one of those simple, automatic tasks each month.

First and foremost, it pays to feed and clothe your children, who should be the most important people in your life (even when they're acting up in the back seat or spill Diet Coke all over your computer keyboard).

Second, it's the one expense that if you don't pay, you go to JAIL. That matters.

Unfortunately, some parents choose not to pay, either out of spite or out of stupidity. Up until now, catching deadbeats wasn't always easy, but the Lee County (Alabama) Sheriff's Office may have given us a blueprint.

According to the Opelika-Auburn News, the Sheriff's Office set up a plan called Operation Iron Snare (That's how you know it's a big deal, it has a catchy "Operation" name.) where they sent letters out to 140 wanted delinquent payment suspects telling them they'd won free tickets to the Iron Bowl (the annual Alabama vs Auburn football game, for the non-college football savvy).

All they had to do, the letter said, was bring a photo ID to a specified location to receive the tickets. Naturally, when the "winners" arrived, the only iron waiting for them was handcuffs.

How successful was the operation? Well, they managed to catch about a dozen violators (around ten percent, a solid percentage for any direct mail campaign!) who owed around $270,000 total!

I think of these dozen deadbeats and can't help but be reminded of the show Swamp People, where alligator hunters hang large chunks of meat from large hooks about three feet over the water in order to trap the gators. Gator sees meat, gator swallows meat and hook, hunter shoots trapped gator.

The thing is, any intelligent creature knows that delectable meat levitating above the water (which to the gator, it is) is not only physically impossible but also too good to be true. A lot like free tickets to the biggest college football game of the year randomly showing up in your mailbox.

We cut the gators some slack because they are small-minded creatures who don't know any better, and while deadbeat dads from rural Alabama may fit that description as well, their status as (barely) human beings means they don't get off so easy.

Somewhere the son of the deposed ruler of Nigeria is requesting the e-mail addresses of these specimens for his next direct mail campaign seeking funds to rescue his family and escape the country unharmed. Because they might just believe him.

There are two morals to this story. One, pay your goddamn child support. Two, nothing -- and I mean, NOTHING -- good ever comes in the mail anymore.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and 1560 The Game in Houston, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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