When you survey the damage that’s been done over the last few years, it boggles the mind how a site like Covers.com—a supposed sports betting “industry leader”—could make so many missteps, so many mistakes.
The BetED fiasco, in which Covers readers had their accounts closed without warning, immediately comes to mind. It was an act of betrayal, of greed, a classic case of the ends (money) justifying the means.
The Jack Zito story is recent but equally egregious. Covers hired a 21-year-old college student as a tout and tried to pass him off as a professional bettor who has proven systems, a team of statisticians and a long-term record of success. Zito was fired five days into the job after posting a 3-9 record.
Then, of course, there’s the Sarah Phillips saga. Maybe you’ve read about it? If not, Deadspin’s original story can be found here. I’d also recommend follow-up stories that appeared in the Huffington Post, NY Daily News, USA Today, MSNBC, and so on.
But somehow, what transpired on Tuesday actually feels worse.
David Purdum, a well-respected Covers columnist since 2008, was terminated for reasons that weren’t publicly disclosed and likely never will be. In an entry on his blog, Purdum called his writing gig at Covers “my dream job.”
So, how did Purdum lose his dream job?
It seems to have begun with a tweet sent from his personal Twitter account roughly 24 hours after the Sarah Phillips story broke. Purdum, who operated the @CoversSports account, informed his followers that he would no longer be in control of it.
The tweet served a purpose. Many of the Twitter account’s followers (including friends, readers and industry contacts) knew that Purdum operated it and often sent him personalized notes, direct messages, and so on. Without Purdum’s tweet, most of us would continue to interact with someone that wasn’t him.
Incredibly, Covers told Purdum that the tweet “made the company look bad.”
For the last four years, Purdum made the company look good. He built the aforementioned Twitter following to roughly 19,000 in a fairly short period of time, wrote popular columns that were widely read and even scored an interview with Billy Walters, the mystery man whose six-figure bets always keep bookmakers on their toes.
In an industry where most folks try so desperately to be something they’re not, Purdum was one of the few who willingly embraced who he was. He freely admitted his square betting tendencies and never shied away from asking questions that he felt could inform his readership.
Purdum didn’t want to be known as a great sports bettor.
He wanted to be a great sports betting writer.
And he was.
People laugh, but there’s an old saying that I tweet out frequently, and it comes from legendary head coach Dick Vermeil. It’s a little principle, Vermeil says, that can apply to anything you do in your life:
“Do the right things for the right reasons with the right people.”
Purdum had the first two parts down but never the third.
It’s a shame.
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