Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Quote of the Day (Declan Hill, on This Era of Legal Sports Betting)

“Leagues are dancing with the devil. Here’s what happens. There’ll be one play that’s kind of weird and dubious and sports fans will start to go, ‘Was that legitimate?’ And then there’ll be another one. And another one and another one. And after a few years, the sports leagues will have a problem. Because their fundamental credibility is being debated by their fans.” —Declan Hill, Univ. of New Haven professor and expert on match-fixing, quoted by Kyle Hightower, “Pro Leagues Balance Profit, Integrity Risks in Legal Betting Era,” The Berkshire Eagle, June 14, 2023

By a majority vote that surprisingly cut across liberal and conservative factions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled five years ago legalized sports betting. The decision unleashed massive growth in this business—and, I’m afraid, more opportunities for mischief than they could ever have foreseen.

Legendary sports-betting scandals, such the 1919 World Series involving the Chicago White Sox, were often attributed to the pitiful wages that players earned years ago. But I’m not sure that the influx of money in the free-agent era will cure such problems. Greed will come to the fore, no matter how much somebody already has.

Especially in prolonged postseasons, sports fans know how much chance can play a role in how far their favorite team can advance towards a championship. One unlucky bounce, one freak injury and they’re out.

Do we really want questions of legitimacy swirling around this?

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