Some say the Supreme Court’s ruling that will allow sports betting to be determined by states is a good move. It will help regulate what is already a multibillion-dollar industry. Professional leagues will be able to profit and bring wagering out of the dark spaces.
I don’t know all the ramifications of states legalizing betting. What I do know is that betting changes how sports are viewed. When I was working for the college newspaper, I heard loud banging on press row after a meaningless touchdown near the end of a game. An out-of-town writer was pounding the table, head down.
It surprised me that a reporter would be so invested in the team he covered. Another reporter whispered to me, “Don’t mind him. It’s just that he bet on the spread.”
I thought sports writers cheering for teams was offensive, but betting on them? That led me to believe fan behavior could get worse as betting increases. Already sportsmanship seems on the decline. Add the legalized wagering component, thus greater numbers of bettors and more mitigating circumstances, and I can’t see how sportsmanship can get better.
What’s worse than having your favorite team lose? Losing money on your (new) favorite team.
It seems strange that increasingly large numbers of fans could end up cheering for the point spread instead of the actual score. Or kids growing up asking, "Dad, did we win?" It’s enough to make you want to pound the table.