Shocked, SHOCKED, to find gambling?

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

When last we met, we spoke of the PGA Tour and how it sold its soul and the game of golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Lovely people on both sides there … But speaking of tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, #NFLTheTVShowAndSportsBook is suddenly back in the news cycle because A.) the NFL makes it its business to be in the news cycle 24/7/365 and B.) there seems to be a gambling problem amongst the cast of the long-running hit television series.

Since April, six NFL players have been suspended for violation of the league’s gambling policy, and more are under investigation. That’s not something we’re making light of, because it is nothing to make light of. Gambling is a serious problem, just ask anybody who has lost their home, their family and their everything because of it. Not funny.

Seems that many of the violators have incurred penalties by gambling on other sports while at team facilities, which is against the rules, although many players have said they had no idea betting on other sports while at team facilities was against the rules.

Well, tough toenails. It’s on the players to know the rules. That’s on them, not the league, because as despicable, ruthless and greedy as most of the people who have run the league have been from the very beginning, it will still always be a privilege for a player to play in the league.

In fact, the league has even brought in Tom Brady (angels singing in the background) to make an educational video for the league to explain the NFL’s gambling policy. The video will be shown at the teams’ rookie camps and training camps to explain to players what is and isn’t allowed, which is essentially not to bet on anything NFL or place bets at team facilities.

This is all well and good, and semi-admirable on the NFL’s part, except I trust the NFL as far as I can throw it.

Not unlike any other professional sports league in this gluttonous and self-serving day (and, look, I’m no Puritan), most NFL teams have an official betting sponsor.

Fifteen states with NFL teams have legal online sports gambling. One NFL team plays its home games in a venue named for a casino company, one NFL and one NHL team play their home games in Las Vegas, and one Major League Baseball team may well be there in a year or two.

So professional sports teams and leagues can preach all they wish to about developing “the winning culture,” but given who and what is paying a big chunk of the bills for professional sports, how can a player not recognize the winning culture to be winning on sports gambling?

As I said, no Puritan here. I like to drop a few on a point spread or two, but thankfully, I’ve grown old enough to have given up the bad habits I was in danger of developing when I was younger and was loaded with male testosterone for aggression and competitiveness. You know … show off for the girls.

Thankfully, I have also grown old enough that I can barely do one percent of what my smartphone will allow me to do. I grew up with payphones on every street corner, why the hell do I need to do all of that on a telephone?

But, see, it’s a safe bet (see what I did there?) that guys who have grown up having no idea what a payphone is, and who grew up in the computer age teaching themselves how to operate the smartphones in their pockets (they don’t come with instructions – not that I, being male, have ever read instructions) and who now play professional sports because they are loaded with ambition, talent, aggression and competitiveness are willing to make a bet or two.

Hell, I know too many young guys who have never come close to playing professional sports who gamble, by my nosy estimation, far too much for their own good, because they have that phone and that app right there in their pocket.

Thank goodness I did not grow up in this environment to find out the hard way that Biff really did steal the sports almanac and went back to the future with it.

Again, the NFL and all other sports leagues – professional and college – have rules against their players gambling on their particular sport, or sports in general. So if the players wish to continue to enjoy the privilege they have worked so hard to earn, they’ll follow the rules or pay the consequences.

Life’s all about opportunity and making choices. It’s up to them.

That said, #NFLTheTVShowAndSportsBook continues to be so laughable in a not-so-funny way when it gets on its hypocritical high horse about anything. In this most recent instance of gambling, the TVShow is saying they want us – you and I – to continue to throw our money away, but their employees are not allowed to do it, not because the NFL gives a rat’s arse about their well-being, but because it looks bad for the Shield.

Would have been nice if their scriptwriters had thought of that before Super Bowl III.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT