Here Come Da Judge…

The Third Circuit Court ruled against the State of New Jersey saying that its latest gambit to permit sports betting at racetracks and casinos in New Jersey was illegal. I do not pretend to understand the maneuverings here so I will not try to explain what happened. Legal analysts seem to say that the idea of sports betting in New Jersey is dead for now and that there will need to be a movement in the US Congress to repeal or at least modify PASPA – the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. In my assessment, the US Congress is only a 9-5 shot to figure out that Tuesday comes after Monday this week; the idea that they will recognize that PASPA was a bad idea in 1992 and that it does not “protect” either professional or amateur sports is laughable.

The pro sports leagues oppose expansion of legalized betting with the NFL leading the charge there. The NBA is more open to such expansion so long as it is done at the Federal level and not with a patchwork of different regulations from state to state. The hypocrisy of the NFL on this issue is so blatant and their arguments are so outdated that it makes my teeth itch every time they speak to the issue. The NFL owes its popularity to gambling and the many forms of wagering that fit perfectly into the sport of football. The person who invented point spread betting – it was back in the 1940s I believe – ought to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a major contributor to the game.

Naturally, the NCAA opposes gambling on any collegiate sporting event; the NCAA opposes lots of fundamentally good ideas. The hypocrisy of the NCAA with regard to gambling is also palpable:

    1. March Madness is the NCAA’s biggest revenue generator. To think that there is no gambling on tournament games or bracket pools is monumentally foolhardy. To pretend there is no linkage between such gambling and the popularity of March Madness is monumentally ignorant.

    2. College sports have had more game-fixing scandals than pro sports. While one could attribute that to “gamblers”, the more important attribution should be to the exposure of the scandals. Since PASPA went into effect, how many issues have been uncovered by the NCAA “investigators” and how many have been flagged by legal sportsbooks? The answer is that the NCAA has uncovered none of them – as in not a single one.

There are two clear winners from the decision of the Court:

    1. Las Vegas sport: Their existence is “grandfathered” by PASPA and this decision mitigates significant competition to those sportsbooks.

    2. Daily Fantasy Sports websites: Somehow, those enterprises fall outside the definition of sports gambling and the two major sites now get to maintain their virtual monopoly status in that “industry”.

Since I am on the subject of sports gambling, there is a guy in New York who wants to blend horseracing bets with the lottery. Brad Cummings has patented some software called EquiLottery and what it will do is randomly generate tickets for customers on actual horse races. Each ticket would cost $2 and each ticket would be a straight trifecta wager on the race – meaning the numbers on the ticket have to match the numbers of the first three horses in that specific race to win. Cummings thinks that this will be more appealing to the betting public. He may be right but EquiLottery would be or exactly no interest to me. For a more thorough look at this idea, here is a link.

Switching gears, CBS just announced its announcing teams for the 2015 NFL season. Naturally, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are the #1 team and will do the Thursday Night games plus the CBS featured game on Sunday. They have been the “bell cows” for CBS on the air for at least a decade now. What I liked when I saw the listing is that Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be the #2 team for CBS this year. I have been a fan of Ian Eagle – doing football and basketball – for about 20 years now. It is good to see him moving “up the food chain” at CBS. And by the way, Dan Fouts is also very good as a game analyst.

I saw a report a couple of days ago that said that Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell said that he remains convinced that the play he called at the 1-yardline in the Super Bowl that led to the interception and the loss of the game was the right call. He said that he would not change anything and would make the same call again.

I guess he has to say something along those lines unless he is going to go fully to the other end of the line here and say that he made one of the worst football decisions ever. [Aside: I remember seeing someone at the time say that the decision to throw the ball at the point in the game was as bad a decision as the one Napoleon made when he invaded Russia. That metaphor is a bit over the top, but…] The point is that we now know the outcome of that call; and with that knowledge, we can recognize that from the Seahawks’ perspective there are few outcomes that would have been worse. Because that is the case, it might be a tad more reasonable for Bevell to say that he made a mistake but that he made the call that he did based on sound football reasoning. That is lot better than saying I would do it again knowing that the end of the play results in the team losing the Super Bowl.

Finally, let me close today with two comments on the same topic from two columnists:

“Flying disk sports, including Ultimate Frisbee, have been granted full recognition by the International Olympic Committee.

“’We got next!’ said lawn darts.” [Dwight Perry, Seattle Times]


“And finally: The International Olympic Committee has recognized ultimate frisbee as a sport. I believe this was pushed by the ‘It’s no dumber than synchronized swimming’ committee.” [Brad Dickson, Omaha World-Herald]

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………