A simple solution to the problem of sports games

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Shohei Ohtani reacts in the Los Angeles Angels’ dugout after a high pitch by Los Angeles Angels’ Reid Detmers during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on March 25 in Los Angeles.Michael Owens/Getty Images

For 15 years after being banned for life in 1989, Pete Rose continued to insist that he had never played baseball. Gambling, of course. But baseball? never

He told anyone who would listen. He said it sincerely, with a lot of emotion.

When that didn’t work, Rose wrote a book admitting it all. He had not only bet on baseball, but on his own team.

Another five years passed and Rose was hired by Fox as an analyst. It was a stunt for hire and a way to shield Networks star Alex Rodriguez from criticism (if you think that’s bad, check out the guy sitting next to him).

But it was also a vindication. After nearly a quarter of a century, Rose returned to baseball.

If you didn’t live it, but only knew this story from a Wikipedia entry, what lesson would you take from the example of Roses?

This game is bad, but it’s not the end. If you are old enough, your sins will be forgotten.

As long as gambling was perceived as an illegal vice, sports had that luxury. The players who got on the wrong side of things weren’t against baseball or hockey. They were against the law. They were abrogating a shared social value.

This threat kept the balance. Players gambled, but when they were caught, there was a social as well as legal cost to pay.

Now that gambling is legal almost everywhere, these moral barriers are coming down. It’s just sports leagues against players, and the leagues are losing.

On Monday, we had two examples from each end of the talent spectrum.

In Los Angeles, Shohei Ohtani, reading a script, told reporters he had never bet on baseball. According to Ohtani, his gambling-addicted performer wired $4.5 million to a bookie from his account, using his name. Ohtani didn’t realize the money was missing.

Even after reporters asked, Ohtani wasn’t alarmed. He left it to his friend to deal with. It wasn’t until the story made global headlines, prompting his friend to head to the Dodgers’ clubhouse in English, that Ohtanis’ spider sense began to tingle. , I understood what was happening and began to feel that something was wrong.

To hear him tell it, Ohtani had fallen victim to the world’s easiest robbery, and he might as well employ the world’s worst accountant. end of story

I’m glad I had this opportunity to talk, Ohtani said in closing.

He hadn’t asked any questions.

Elsewhere Monday, ESPN reported that the NBA is investigating Jontay Porter, a midseason pickup from the Toronto Raptors.

In January, Porter had regular minutes. One evening, a line was drawn up for a particular set of bets for him. Plus/minus like how many points he could score that night (+/- 5.5) or three pointers he would sink (+/- 0.5).

As it turned out, Porter was injured. He only played a couple of minutes that night. His stat line was minimal.

According to ESPN, DraftKings told the NBA that more money was made on three-pointers over Porters that night than on any other NBA bet. A couple of months later, it happened again.

Other betting teams reported people trying to place unusually large bets of many thousands of dollars on Porter’s fixtures.

What is the truth of both cases? It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that they both look terrible. It’s important that stories like this have started landing on a regular basis.

Unlike a DUI or a bar fight, these stories are the foundation of professional sports that what you’re watching is on the rise. This perception is all that separates baseball or hockey from Cirque du Soleil.

Now there is the added wrinkle of legalized gambling. When Pete Rose was betting his own games and costing you money, that was your problem. Most likely, you have placed this bet illegally. What a shame.

When someone fixes a result now, they are cheating you in your legal pursuit of betting fun. Shame on them, and the league that employs them.

If people start to suspect that what they are seeing is fixed, even slightly fixed, the sports betting industry starts to unravel. The leagues are so intertwined with gambling that any collapse on one side triggers the other.

The answer to this problem is so obvious that no one can dispute its zero tolerance for gambling or any gambling-adjacent behavior by professional athletes.

Up until this point, the leagues have avoided making too many rules around the issue. Professionals can’t bet on their own sport, obviously. But other sports are fine. In most cases, advertising for legal bookmakers is also fine.

If the sport wants to protect itself from what’s to come, everything has to go.

Want to play the pro of whatever? Great. No gambling. Always. About anything related to sports. If you get caught with a betting slip, you’re done.

No advertising for bookmakers, ever. Don’t show up at parties. Do not take a picture in front of an advertising banner. Athletes should be afraid to be seen near anything related to the game.

Sanctions should be simple for the first time, a two to three year ban from the sport. Second time, banned for life.

If this is your first time betting on your own sport, go straight to option 2.

No excuses. No mitigating factors. No, my cousin didn’t tell me what he was doing or the interpreter pays my water bill, so how would I know? No presumption of innocence. Athletes should prove that they are cleaner than clean.

This is a way forward. The other way is the certain knowledge that another Black Sox scandal is coming, and that this one will be much worse.

Right now, the sport is in the phase of getting what you want. He wanted money to play, so now he has gambling problems. New that it is not equipped to handle.

Even Pete Rose knows the sport is playing a losing hand.

After the Ohtanis presser, Rose jumped on X To summarize what he learned after 35 years in the desert: In the 1970s and 1980s, I wish I had an interpreter.

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