Monday, November 17, 2008

Winners and Losers, on the Field and Off

Yesterday's football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers ended with a play that should have been called a touchdown for the Steelers, but it was not due to error on the part of the referrees. The Steelers won anyway, so it did not make any difference as to the outcome of the game. However, thousands of viewers were screaming at their television sets, because it made a difference with regard to the point spread. The non-touchdown affected millions of dollars bet on the game.

In spite of the fact that a significant number of viewers have such an interest, the announcers never mention it. As Barry Horn points out, the networks have an "informal understanding" with the NFL that they will not talk about gambling. The reasons are obvious. If gambling reaches those actually involved in the sport, the integrity of the games would threaten to destroy it. Thus, it is an unmentionable issue.

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