Sports leagues, New Jersey battling for your pockets

August 7, 2012, 3:23 pm
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The best thing about business in the 21st century is the way it doesnt even try to hide what it is doing any more. It sees you have pockets and it wants to get its hand in them before you do. And it doesnt care all that much that you know that.And so it is with the new legal action brought in New Jersey by the NCAA and the four major team sports seeking to enjoin state officials from establishing legalized gambling on pro and college sports.Yes, because illegal gambling has kept the sports pristeen and virginal all these many decades.Now were not the moralizers corner, but we know this much: if youre looking for the moral component here, you wont find it in either the plaintiffs or defendants. The sports franchises are upset that the gambling industry wants to make money off its business money it wouldnt ever see anyway. And the gambling folks are upset that the sports operations want to demonize them while living off the ancillary benefits the wagering produces.In short, two groups see the other guys pockets and make a play. Pretty damned uplifting stuff, that.Of course, maybe the leagues wouldnt look so bad if they also hadnt gone to court in the past to ban fantasy sports by claiming they owned the numbers their players produced. It takes some serious stones to sue for the right to control the number 4, just to use one example.But they did it. And they lost. And they still watched profits sour, and the stock market didnt tank, and the Russians didnt invade, and the Dodgers still sold for 2.15 billion. In other words, the operative legal phrase here is, Shut the hell up.So with that as our guiding principle here that the sports leagues cannot claim that they own the rights to everything they can touch, which presumably means television, which presumably then means everyone who watches television, which presumably then means everything there is outside the Amazon lets cut to the chase here.The leagues and the gambling halls are in the same business staking out your pockets. What they are really arguing about is each others pockets. If you tied Mark Emmert, Roger Goodell, Bud Selig, David Stern and Gary Bettman to chairs . . . youd be tempted to walk away and never tell anyone, knowing in your heart that you had done something for the good of all mankind.But we digress.If you did tie them to chairs and say, Well see you get a skim off the top, the lawsuit would disappear yesterday. This is stone cold fact because of these great truths: The leagues have symbiotic relationships with gambling. Games get bet on, which creates interest in games.
The leagues use the casinos to help spot trends that might lead to game-fixing.
One hand washes the hell out of the other in huge piles of lilac-scented hundreds.But in the new business paradigm, symbiosis is merely a prelude to cannibalism. The leagues dont want to eradicate gambling they want the action themselves, and when they say otherwise, as they doubtless will in Trenton, they are lying through their faceplates.Which is something else they are good at.So lets fast-forward to the end of this little charade. The leagues will lose in court. They will watch people gamble on their games with the same people with whom they currently gamble. And everyone will stop focusing on each others pockets and return to the thing that made them all great and powerful in the first place.Your pockets.Thus, the quo remains static, and everyone gets their piece except of course you, because you thought Saints minus-10 was a smart play when you had that face full of Pliny The Elder IPA. Its so much the American Way that it makes Gabby Douglas look French by comparison.Which reminds me Ive got to double down on that Ramirez Carranza-Selby mens flyweight quarterfinal. Hey, Im doing it for the good of the economy, all right?Ray Ratto is a columnist for

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