Ever since sports gambling has become widely legal, and more teams and leagues sign their own deals with online sports betting companies, there’s been a fear from some corners of the sporting press about the effect it will have.
Will games be thrown? Points shaved? How will people watch sports when more and more of them have money on different outcomes that aren’t even the final score. We saw some of this with both Shelby Rogers and Sloane Stevens at the U.S. Open, both lamenting the deluge of ugliness and hate they would see on social media after losses, at least some of which, one would imagine, is a result of people losing money.
Not that social media harassment and abuse would go away without gambling. And Europe has had legal sports betting for a long time now, and there’s rarely, if ever, been some sort of scandal in team sports, though tennis has had some issues.
But if people wanted to see the effects of gambling on sports, it’s been right in front of them for a long time. It was on display in the offensive pass interference that wasn’t called against Tampa when Chris Godwin shoved Jourdan Lewis out into the parking lot before his critical catch to set up the Bucs’ winning field goal.
The NFL has been handcuffing defenses for over a decade now, and making defensive pass interference a common play. Is there much pushback? Not really, because most fans want the yards for their quarterbacks and wide receivers they will lead to, and the likelier touchdowns for the QBs, WRs, and running backs on their fantasy team. To think that the NFL’s bending of the rules to the offense and the passing game over years has nothing to do with fantasy football is purely naive. It’s how most fans watch the game now, at least when their team isn’t playing (and maybe not even then). Give the people what they want.
So yeah, Cowboys fans are probably livid this morning (what else is new?). There are far more people happy to have the extra tenths of a point from Tom Brady or Godwin. And the NFL knows this. Think of it this way: How many friends sent you the results of their draft to get your opinion? How many did you send yours to? The prosecution rests.