The Great Sports Hypocrisy

I cannot believe I’m writing something that’s actually supporting the NBA. I’m not an NBA fan, and have been a harsh critic. My disdain for David Stern stems from his dealings with the Seattle SuperSonics & their departure for Oklahoma City. But I have been quite impressed with the new Commissioner, Adam Silver. His recent op-ed piece in the New York Times calling for the legalization of gambling was a breath of fresh air coming from a league that has been previously full of hot air. Click here for the New York Times article.

The debate about whether Sports Gambling should be legalized is going to be a subject of an on-air debate that I’m planning to host. However, it should be pointed out, that while all the major sports have not advocated legalized gambling, they all take part in and profit from gambling under a different label: Fantasy. Fantasy sports has evolved into big business. I’ve worked with “Fantasy Experts,” and despite my great respect for them as professionals, I always thought their “analysis” was more like what a bookie said in the 70’s. The fact that the sports disassociate themselves with gambling yet sanction and in some cases endorse Fantasy Football, Baseball, ET. All. is the definition of hypocrite.

I remember when I was working for MLBAM, a place I loved. It was amazing how excited they got about anything fantasy baseball. They made radio shows about fantasy. They paid people to create alternate fantasy games. This was a great business decision by BAM. I remember a day when we got told to do a fantasy segment the same week that Pete Rose was in the news when he made a statement about reinstatement. The Batman character Two-Face, couldn’t have been more transparent.

Let’s agree to some simple statements:

1, Sports audience numbers are greatly connected to how well that sports can be betted on. The NFL outrageous revenue streams can’t be properly quantified because I suspect that 60% of the average football audience has some form of money on the game.

2, Baseball’s numbers have declined, not because fans are disenchanted with the game, but rather because the sports can’t be bet on like football is.

The NBA is interesting, because legalized gambling would force that league to oversee all officiating and have committees just to make sure everything is on the level. A small price, for a huge revenue increase. I applaud Silver for having the initiative to write the op-ed piece. His handling of the job has been impressive, notably his handling of the Donald Sterling case. Now if he can only get the Thunder to move back to Seattle, now he’d be my favorite executive.

It will be interesting to see where the rhetoric goes, and I look forward to sports leagues being forthright with their enormous revenue streams.

Follow me on Twitter @Seth_Everett if u want to discuss this topic.  Could be fun.