I can remember driving up and down I-70 between Topeka, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., frustrated as all hell that I had to cover a high school football game for a newspaper in a town I couldn’t locate. Even worse, the teams were so bad that 5Dimes didn’t release a point spread for the game.
Yes, I have placed a wager or seven on high school football games. Hundreds, if not thousands, of other folks have done the same. But a few virtuous administrators in Pennsylvania seem to be up in arms over the idea that offshore sportsbooks would try to take advantage of innocent high school kids.
It’s wrong to exploit youths for personal gain.
“It sounds to me like we are at the mercy of people who don’t give a damn about the educational quality of what we’re doing,” Paul Holzshu, athletic director at Shaler (Pa.) High, told the Tribune-Review. “They’re just trying to make a buck off kids who are innocent. People are exploiting kids by betting on games.”
5Dimes and a handful of other books have been setting high school football lines for public wagering since as early as 2007. Over the last two years, the Little League World Series has been added to the list of offerings.
And this, apparently, is wrong.
But then you hear Tony Williams, general manager at 5Dimes, explain why high school football games are offered to customers in the first place.
“If it wasn’t on TV, it wouldn’t be requested,” Williams told the Tribune-Review. “If it wasn’t requested, it would not be made available.”
Why are high school football games on television, anyway? Seems to me that all those cameras take away from the purity of the sport and the educational quality these games provide. And in the case of Little League, aren’t we technically exploiting 12-year-olds when we allow television networks like ESPN to profit off their games?
The reality is that 5Dimes and other sportsbooks wouldn’t offer these games if they weren’t on television. And these games wouldn’t be on television if they weren’t somehow making money for the parties involved.
Why can high schools exploit their students but bookmakers can’t?
If school administrators want to put an end to wagering on high school sports, they’ll have to cut ties with television networks and stop giving permission to broadcast the games. Until that day comes, people will continue to bet on high school football and complain when these little pukes fumble a ball in a key moment or miss a chip-shot field goal in the closing seconds.
BTB’S BEST BET
I like Penn Hill (Pa.) to beat Seneca Valley outright as 7.5-point underdogs.