Typically, news that breaks in May is never good for a college football fan. However, if you lean towards the degenerate side, the Supreme Court decided to get you and early Christmas gift on Monday, ruling that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, aka The Bradley Act) is unconstitutional.
So what does this all mean for us as fans of college athletics, regards of degenerate tendencies? I thought I’d take some time to explore this question, considering the NCAA isn’t even sure where, how, or if they will sit at this new table:
Statement from the NCAA’s chief legal officer, Donald Remy: pic.twitter.com/WY3PsXWZGh
— Mitch Sherman (@mitchsherman) May 14, 2018
Now, I’m not going to try and convince anyone that gambling is good. While I enjoy the trip to a sports book or blackjack table and try to pick games against the spread on the podcast, I know it’s a vice. Further, I understand some people can’t control their vices. I see it as an entertainment fee, but others have real struggles with gambling addiction and should absolutely seek help.
So regardless of whether or not gambling is your cup of tea, and even despite the previous ban put in place by PASPA, the presence of betting on sports is and has been a present reality. Even before ESPN made a recent conscious decision to display and specifically reference spreads, commentators coyly wove veiled gambling references into the lexicon of college football. Brent Musburger talked about “his friends in the desert” and, during his picks, Lee Corso points out games that will be “closer than the experts think.”
While I certainly hope that dance doesn’t completely stop (let’s be honest, the veiled references are great), the pretense that spreads shouldn’t be mentioned in any broadcast can finally be laid to rest. There’s value in discussing spreads for the non-betting sports fan. Knowing that a team is favored by 14 points immediately paints said team in a strong light without any knowledge of them. Likewise, hearing that a star player’s injury brought that spread down to being favored by only 3 points (or pulled off the board completely) speaks to the level of impact expected of that player, again with no previous knowledge required.
Further, Las Vegas can now be added as a potential destination for NCAA championship events as the NCAA previously didn’t allow for such contests to be held in places that allowed sports wagering. While there’s been no hard rule for the College Football Playoff Championship, football has still more or less followed suit with the only post-season experience being the Las Vegas Bowl. With PASPA gone, the possibility of using the Raider’s nice, new shiny stadium for that event, or perhaps even the Pac 12 Championship game, would be much more normalized.
I don’t expect massive changes save for some more direct references and discussions of the spread. Oh, and for degenerate gamblers, that might hypothetically include myself, not having to pay hypothetical foreign transaction fees to hypothetical websites to hypothetically allow for easier access to sports betting that doesn’t involve a flight into the middle of the desert. Still, I’m thrilled that sports wagering will be brought above board. The charade that it was only something that happened in Vegas and should only be slyly referenced was and still is ridiculous.