The hypocritical sports leagues are trying to insult us or aggravate us or possibly both as they attempt to prevent New Jersey from offering sports betting in its state.
New Jersey argues that it’s unconstitutional to let four states (Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware) offer single-game sports betting while the other 46 states have to simply “do without.” The sports leagues, meanwhile, insist that widespread betting on their games threatens to disrupt the integrity of the sports while increasing the chances for corruption.
Which is a ridiculous claim.
But not more ridiculous than this:
So, in addition to playing the “country’s youth who often look up to athletes as role models” card, the leagues also suggest that the advertising and promotion of sports gambling will irreparably harm amateur and professional sports.
If that’s the case, then why do the leagues let their television partners continually promote sports gambling on the air during game broadcasts? Because it can certainly be argued that ESPN personalities have far more influence on teenage and high school kids than a series of sportsbooks they aren’t old enough to enter.
Game broadcasters set the agenda. They tell us what to care about. And consistently and repeatedly, again and again, they tell us that the point spread matters—especially in the closing minutes of a blowout game that the non sports betting faction of the country always turns off midway through the third quarter.
Care for some examples of league partners “advertising” and “promoting” sports gambling on airwaves? Let’s take a look at a few instances from the past year, and yes, we’re surely missing dozens—if not hundreds—of them.
- ESPN’s Dick Vitale talks point spread: “This crowd gives you such an edge. I don’t want to hear people screaming if Kansas wins, ‘Upset! Upset! No. 3 got beat!’ Kansas is a 5-point favorite. Hey, I’m like Brent Musburger now! It’s a 5-point favorite!”
- ESPN’s Rick Reilly places $50 bets: “I absolutely think [Tiger Woods] is the favorite. I’ve always picked him. I’ve never given up on him beating Jack Nicklaus. I’ve got $50 bets with people all over the country that he’s gonna do this.”
- TNT’s Charles Barkley plans to “load up” on Pacers Game 2: “[I'm] going heavy on the Pacers … they will cover.”
- Barkley Part II: Sir Charles plots modest $100k bet on Patriots to win Super Bowl. “In Belichick I trust.”
- ESPN’s Brent Musburger gets a miracle cover: “For some, these are two of the biggest free throws of the night.”
- Musburger Part II: “I think [sports betting] should have been legalized and taxed.”
- Musburger Part III: “The spread closed at 7.”
- NBC’s Al Michaels calls viewers friendly degenerates: “Well, Baltimore scores a meaningless touchdown. Meaningless except for some friendly degenerates that we know.”
- ESPN’s Mike Tirico emphasizes final score: “The final margin is four. 72-68. A four-point game. That 3-pointer at the end [off camera] was good.”
- ESPN’s Bill Simmons bets on NBA MVP award: “Bill had never received a ballot before and didn’t find out he had one until two-thirds of the season had passed. By that time he had made multiple MVP bets, two of which he had discussed on podcasts.”
- ESPN’s Colin Cowherd offers gambling advice: “I’m telling you right now. If you had $10,000 and you gave it to me and said, ‘Colin, bet four teams at $2,500 apiece to win more games than Vegas predicts,’ I’m gonna tell you my four right now.”
There are plenty more examples and we could keep listing them. Unfortunately, we’re too busy trying to keep up with the opinions of NFL owners and players, who seem to have more than a passing interest in sports betting.
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