I need to preface this by saying I’m a Saints fan who was in the Superdome when their season came to an abrupt end, so I’m particularly bitter about the NFL right now, as are many sports fans along the Gulf Coast. To the extent that, for the first time in decades, I won’t be making any Super Bowl-related wagers this year, including buying squares. A friend of mine, not a Saints fan (or hater), told me I should “Hate A game, not THE game”. But no, I blame the NFL.  So, for at least another week, I’m hating THE game, or the NFL, specifically. Which is tough, given that I grew up in Massachusetts, rooting for the Pats.

This all ties tangentially to what I’ve recently been following closely/professionally – the proliferation of, and regulation of, sports betting in states across America. But more specifically, whether leagues should have the ability to get a piece of the wagers to ensure the accuracy of the official results, asking for an “Integrity Fee”. Sorry, NFL, maybe you should try to first have integrity before you decide you’re going to charge a price for it.

I found an interesting internet thread from six years ago[1] questioning and discussing the integrity of the NFL – the author (Rancid) noted:

“The NFL possesses an Anti-Trust Exemption to the law granted to it by President John F. Kennedy, which ultimately allows the NFL to classify itself as “entertainment” rather than sport, as well as incorporate itself as a single entity instead of the 32 separate “franchises”….. The only other ‘sports organization that has this format is the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).”

Rancid further noted:

“In a 2004 lawsuit vs the NFL, the NFL attorney Gregg H. Levy argued that “the NFL is not a collection of 32 individual teams, but rather a single entity. And as long as the NFL teams are a unit, and they compete as a unit in the entertainment marketplace, then they should be deemed a single unit and not subject to any Anti-Trust laws.”

That provides me with little comfort that a football result is based on the play of the game and not based in part on a what is the league’s desired outcome.

So, was there an effort to drive a specific outcome of the Saints/Rams game by the league and/or its officials? All I can say is, if you intend to place a bet on the Super Bowl, it may be worth considering who you think the league wants to win it. Or maybe I’m just still bitter…

Scott Fisher, PhD

 

[1] Rancid, https://forums.denverbroncos.com/showthread.php?220031-Is-the-NFL-an-Entertainment-Business-like-the-WWE

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