I once read that the commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, stated that legalized sports betting would likely hinder the integrity of the league, and actually cause fans to shy away from their favorite teams in lieu of rooting for a winning bet. I find the premise a bit narrow minded because just because sports betting might be legal does not mean everyone is going to drain their wallets and lay their money down. Additionally, what makes Mr. Goodell so sure that legalized sports betting would not bring new fans who might have never had any interest in the games until such time as they followed the odds.
Take me, for example. Growing up in the Northeast I had my pick of NFL teams because so many were within a relatively short distance from my hometown. I never really liked college football. That’s probably because I did not understand the way certain teams ended up being in the Cotton, Rose, or Orange Bowl. It was all Greek to me.
Then one day I happened to ask one of the guys at a sports talk radio program to share about a charity drive. It was for a former Penn State football player who had also played for the Oakland Raiders. This player had been diagnosed with ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s disease. The host of the show told me I could share about the fund raiser by using their Twitter account, and the rest is history. I became a huge fan of the show and because the host allowed me to use his Twitter account for something that mattered to me, I wanted to give back to the show. I did so by promoting the show’s sponsors, and the several resort locations that housed the sponsor’s sports books.
The show, by the way, is Sports X Radio, and it’s a weekly program that goes over the odds and provides information that might help to educate those who wish to place a bet on up-coming games while in Vegas. During college football season, the show focuses predominantly on college football and then transitions to college basketball after football season is over. Of course, the show also focuses on professional sports but its main focus is college games.
Sometimes I will hear mention of a school I’ve not heard of and I learn about the educational programs that are available at that particular school simply because I’m tweeting about a game. In addition, I hear about the players who might be headed to win the Heisman and play in the National Football League. I’m not sure if I have ever once bet on college football but I enjoy picking sides and looking at the predicted totals. I don’t have a lot of money and surely cannot afford to bet a lot but I love seeing if I’m on the right side. For some, it’s not about the money. It’s just about the fun and friendly conversation among friends.
I know I’m not necessarily the norm and perhaps there might be negatives associated with legalized sports betting but I do not think they outweigh the positives. I think the WNBA for example could benefit immensely from legalized sports betting. People might actually tune in and watch more so than they would have if they had no vested interest. Is it right? Does it really matter why someone takes an interest in a sport as long as it’s ultimately in the best interest of the sport?
I am a huge fan of college football now. It’s all because of one show in Vegas that allowed me to take over its Twitter account for all the right reasons. I do hope people open their minds to the endless possibilities both on Twitter and in the world of legalized sports betting. You never know what could happen, if you focus on the positives.