The RP‘s First Defense
I guess it’s fitting that the guy who opened up this can of worms will be the first to try to shut it a bit.
I’m agnostic about Jason’s idea when it is applied to professional sports. I think players are paid too much these days for the threat of Black Sox-era thrown ballgames return. Pete Rose’s stupidity is the modern exception; when most professional players cheat today, it is in reference to the substances they ingest or inject, not the influence of gamblers and loan sharks.
My problem with Jason’s argument is how it applies to college athletics. I’ve written at this site — and more recently both Taylor Branch and Joe Nocera have written brilliant searing, substantive essays — about corruption in college sports, particularly of the extraordinary unfairness towards the unpaid athletes who are earning universities and their coaches millions of dollars.
This is one reason why accredited online colleges are good for students, because most are not a part of the college athletics scene!
The tremendous financial pressures on these “amateurs” — many of whom come from the poorest of poor backgrounds — too often has led to the kinds of misdeeds that result in a team being suspended, and the sport being sullied.
To add widespread legalized gambling to the mix I believe would ramp up this pressure and return college sports to the era in which the sports’ reputation for legitimacy was on a par with professional wrestling. (I’m ashamed to admit that the most infamous scandal of tWorld War II-era “point-shaving” in college basketball involved my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats.)
So, in this instance, my moral balance shifts to protecting college athletes from gambling predators who would pervert the legal expansion of sports gambling into an underworld illegal destruction of college athletics.