You may have read the recent National Foorball League (NFL) headlines about Arizona Cardinals player Josh Shaw being suspended until the 2021 season after being caught gambling on several league games.
Let’s dive into the details:
You likely remember when the legendary Pete Rose rocked the sports world when he was banned indefinitely from Major League Baseball after getting caught gambling.
Or, the infamous NCAA and NBA basketball betting scandals that even included the referees. Yet, for well over 50 years, no player gambling scandal has even been mentioned in the National Football League as it maintained its persona as the most pure sport in the world.
Well, there just may be another small chip in the NFL shield.
Zero Tolerance for Gambling
When I played in the NFL throughout the mid 2000’s, players betting on an NFL game was considered blasphemy. Have things ever changed. More than halfway through the National Football League's celebrating their 100th season, rules surrounding gambling have revolutionized the game.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws that prohibited gambling restrictions in a number of states, completely changing the landscape of sports betting.
To the surprise of many, including myself, the NFL wasted no time seizing on the opportunity to increase fan engagement by allowing their commentators to cover gambling point spreads and lines during live broadcasts. This even includes allowing advertisements for gambling venues and promotions. Despite the newfound leniency, the NFL still bans all employees and players from gambling on any NFL game.
This basically draws a line in the sand, allowing the league to profit from the activities while banning anyone associated with the league from participating.
Fantasy Football has been a huge revenue driver for the NFL over the past two decades.
In 1999, Yahoo Sports went against the grain of other major competitors by offering its first fantasy football product for free. This caused a boom in the industry which revolutionized how fans watch the games as well as how media outlets deliver sports content, which now widely includes in-depth fantasy sports coverage.
Twenty years following Yahoo’s decision, there are over 60 million people playing fantasy, spending on average more than $550 per league.
Yes, that’s $33 billion being poured into Fantasy Sports each year.
Most people would assume that Fantasy Sports is considered gambling since it allows players to bet money on a game which is also known less commonly as Rotisserie or Roto.
It's often played using the Internet, where participants assemble imaginary or virtual teams of real players of a professional sport.
These teams compete based on the statistical performance of those players in actual games.
For the last several years, the NFL has actually allowed and encouraged its players to participate in Fantasy Football, while limiting their earnings to under $250 per Fantasy game.
This rule applies to all players, coaches, team personnel, and executives.
I can’t help but ask myself, if a game is not considered gambling, then why would the league have to put a limit on the amount a player can win from the game?
And how on earth do they monitor and enforce this rule?
Players Caught in the Hypocrisy
By now you’re probably like me, scratching your head trying to make sense of the National Football League's blatant hypocrisy.
According to the NFL rules, Fantasy Football supposedly isn’t gambling because it involves skill and not chance.
Well, if you were Ariz. Cardinals Cornerback Josh Shaw, who just got handed the harshest gambling penalty in modern NFL history, you would probably be making the argument that by the league's definition, betting on football games isn’t gambling either.
In fact Shaw's agent and attorneys could easily prove that it takes more skill than it does chance to pick football winners against the spread than to draft a completely random mixture of different players from different teams, divisions, and conferences.
Not to mention, the players all playing in different stadiums under different weather conditions, with evolving line ups that are analyzed and selected by thousands of other players.
And did we mention injuries?
This is a gamble if I’ve ever seen one. If we took the NFL’s definition as fact, going to Las Vegas for a Blackjack hand or playing the lottery would also not be considered gambling.
From basic player healthcare coverage, to the league covering up the horrific impact concussions had on its players, this is yet another example of the NFL "moving the goalposts" when it comes to basic rights for its players. I fundamentally don’t agree with what Josh Shaw did, as it was in clear violation of league rules. Yet I do sympathize with him if he in fact did not gamble on games that he played in or could impact in any way.
He is currently on the injured reserve and has not played in a single game this entire season.
It’s time for fair and balanced rule changes when it comes to gambling in the NFL.
At the end of the day, the league is allowing and encouraging players to gamble on Fantasy Sports every day.
And that, without question, is hypocrisy.
Jack Brewer possesses a unique combination of expertise in the fields of global economic development, sports, and finance through his roles as a successful entrepreneur, executive producer, news contributor, and humanitarian. Currently serving as the CEO and Portfolio Manager of The Brewer Group, Inc. as well as the Founder and Executive Director of The Jack Brewer Foundation (JBF Worldwide), active Shriner and Ambassador and National Spokesperson for the National Association of Police Athletic/ Activities Leagues, Inc. Other key roles include regular contributor to CNBC, Fox Business, and The American City Business Journals, Ambassador for Peace and Sport for the International Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development at the United Nations, Senior Advisor to former H.E. President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi, and three time National Football League (NFL) Team Captain for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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