ESPN has had quite the week with the National Football League, their “hometown” New England Patriots, the NCAA and the people who (for now) run college football…presidents and athletic directors.
I don’t like ESPN for many reasons. But in the last couple of days they’ve had a couple of moments worth mentioning…
Obviously the lead item is the Spygate bombshell our friends in Bristol dropped after we thought Deflategate was put to bed. The ink wasn’t even dry on the decree Tom Brady should serve no time for soft balls when the Worldwide Leader whipped out a telling tale of an NFL Commissioner who, if half of what is within the report is true, should be fired. The story also threw the bus in reverse just removed off the Patriots’ reputation and backed over them again…and again…and again.
What you may not have seen or heard is during ESPN’s coverage of college football this past weekend they talked about point spreads of games. A lot. So much so they made themselves newsworthy in a USA Today column this week titled “ESPN’s Betting-Friendly Tack Ruffles Feathers.”
The American Gaming Association issued a release Wednesday estimating America will bet $95 billion on NFL and college football games this year.
Less than four percent of the money will likely be bet legally.
A quote instantly headed for induction into the Understatement Hall Of Fame from the President/CEO of the Association, Geoff Freeman:
Somehow the courts have ruled betting on fantasy football is OK. I haven’t figured that out. Neither has anyone else apparently. ESPN’s parent (Walt Disney himself) agreed earlier in 2015 to invest $250 million in DraftKings, a fantasy sports site…but then backed out…presumably because it resembles gambling. That being said they had no problem taking several hundred million dollars from DraftKings for advertising over the next couple of years. And that may be a problem for some…
In the USA Today story the Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference said their TV contracts prohibit advertisements for gambling other than state lotteries. However…their television partners (cue ESPN) asserted fantasy sports are not gambling.
Meanwhile the NCAA (yes they’re still around) has “Don’t Bet On It” as one of their most prominent messages out there for colleges and universities to abide by.
But fantasy sports aside the bigger conundrum for schools right now is the reality of ESPN yelling “COVER ALERT” this past weekend when a team scored during a game and made the Vegas line on said game “more interesting.”
ESPN is a key driver of the NFL’s glitter and glamour but has to also periodically present some form of investigative integrity by showing how their sausage is made… and is almost big enough at this point they can control college football outright no matter who cries foul. This past week they threw their sizable weight around presenting a glimpse behind the scenes of the National Football League during a time when the Patriots actually admitted cheating…and also dealt both pro and college football leaders a heaping dose of gambling reality no matter how bitter the taste.
Americans have quite a taste for betting on sports.
And that’s no fantasy.