"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Southampton, PA (Sports Network) --
Get the invitations out, call the caterer, set the time aside, plan on being
together with your closest buddies on the planet and, on the appointed day, no
one shows up. Bummer! It would be the kind of desperate feeling experienced
by a sports fan, one that usually has a vested interest in the outcome of the
event, if there were no point spread.
We've all had the occasion to use the term, "self denial," and have probably
been guilty, at one time or the other, of employing it in defense of an
action, or lack thereof. The sports of this nation, their league offices,
sanctioning bodies, owners, media types, commissioners and their legion of
followers are in denial. They are today, always have been and will be
tomorrow. The same folks who think nothing of tippling a tankard or two,
owning enough guns to arm most Third World countries and over-pricing their
offerings beyond the reach of the average fan frown upon gambling as the
Go to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden
and ask all those who have a monetary interest in the game to leave the
premises, and the teams will be playing before sparse crowds.
They are inebriated with power and that leads to one diatribe after another
about the evils of gambling and its deleterious effect on the sports world.
Funny but gambling is legal in most European countries, most notably the
United Kingdom, and our crime rate eclipses theirs, having nothing to do with
wagering on an NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL contest, not to mention college. I guess
it is okay for Nike to give college coaches millions of dollars if their
team(s) adorn larger than life feet with their product but it is against
society to bet that Duke can beat North Carolina. It is acceptable to offer
scholarships to less than literate youngsters who cannot put two meaningful
sentences together in order to fill multi-million dollar arenas, and provide
them with diplomas (if they go for the four year term) but it is wrong to lay
the six points.
Go to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and ask all those who have a
monetary interest in the game to leave the premises and the teams will be
playing before sparse crowds. While the NFL berates wagering, they have teams
of sales people in Las Vegas selling their NFL Sunday package to the
sportsbooks. Because it is legal out there? Sounds like as good an excuse as
any to me.
The Romans and Greeks wagered and gave us two of the greatest cultures of
their time, or any time. Those European countries that are decidedly more
permissive than our own are not in a shambles, chaotic state nor overflowing
with crime, regressed citizens or a depressed national state of affairs.
CBS Sportsline can have an ownership of the very organization that makes the
betting odds every day and the leagues, networks, teams and media magically
transform into ostriches. Amazing!
The networks, in pre- and post-game shows, not to mention during the contest,
can speak openly of the point spread, over/under number and who they like and
it becomes hibernation time for the bears of sports. Every newspaper in the
nation, save the NY Times and Wall Street Journal, pristine pinnacles of
perfection, carry the point spread and the outrage from the powers that be is
muted. Prohibition did not work and gambling is not going to go away. We are
a society that drinks and that leads to drunkenness coupled with accidents and
injuries or deaths. But we continue to drink. Prostitution is not legal in
99% of the nation but the greatest deterrent to that has not been the policing
of it but, rather, the potential of AIDS or other diseases.
Gambling is not the disease Gamblers Anonymous would lead us to believe it to
be. It does affect some adversely and they, in turn, are looking for the get
rich quick scheme of the century. Understood, accepted and a sad commentary.
But, the average person that wagers enjoys it, can afford it, knows that it
makes the game more interesting and his or her life does not change very much
because of the outcome.
It is the point spread that establishes the interest. Yes, there is
legitimate fan attention and partisanship as well and it does not take a wager
on the game to thoroughly enjoy it. But, conversely, a wager on the game does
not detract from it, sully it or change its outcome at all. Utilizing the
point spread gains a higher interest level, makes the contest more
enjoyable...as even the aggravation that accompanies a dropped pass, missed
lay-up, strike out or failure to hit an open net can do...and probably cost
less than the tickets, parking, food, program and souvenirs for the kids.
Will sports collapse without gambling? Of course not. Does a wager on the
game enhance it and make it more enjoyable, even if you lose? Absolutely.
Will the world come to a resounding end if the public continues to bet on the
teams, professional or college? Give me a break!
What office do you know in this country that will not have a pool for March
Madness and get the match-ups printed and up for grabs faster than the
networks? You can put them all on a 3x5 card.
Is the father who wagers a nickel, dime or quarter with his son raising a
criminal? I think not. What about the corporate employer who took the Ravens
minus the points and then went to the Super Bowl to enjoy the game and spent
gazillions in the process to do so? He only makes a quarter of a million
annually so why fret? Has he encouraged evil more than the NRA? I think not
again. As for those in between? Friends of mine and all nice guys that can
afford to indulge and are raising Oprah Winfrey display-them-on-my-show
types of families.
This party has a point spread and it is really time for sports, all of sports,
to understand that the effect of wagering on their particular contests is less
than nil. It has no impact whatsoever. The malaise and propaganda we have
been force-fed is deceiving since it is invisible. The acts of many of the
players, from wife to drug abuse, are consistently more dangerous than that of
wagering on the outcome of the contest. Our youth are watching their heroes
commit criminal acts and then be forgiven because they can dunk, run, hit,
pass, catch, throw, dribble, etc. What does that teach anyone? Only the most
despicable and obviously dangerous are called to account for their actions.
The rest are given a game suspension. Hip, hip hooray!
The point spread is fun and gives rise to that party everyone attends.
Eliminate it and watch the partygoers look for fun elsewhere. Couple its
absence with a deteriorating product, as in the NBA and NFL, and you are
treading on dangerous ground. But, do the leagues, teams, governing bodies,
commissioners and whiter than snow press (in some cases) care about this or
display a willingness to face the truth? You gotta be kidding! Party time!