Children – as late as 2009, or in the Pete Rose days in 1989, or even back in the Black Sox days in 1919 – were told that playing baseball was bad.
It was illegal. It was precarious. And for ball players and teammates who did it, well, it can be career-threatening.
But now baseball games will be a part of baseball. It’s going to be a part of Major League Baseball broadcasts, and even though this was inevitable, it still makes me uncomfortable.
Fox Sports Midwest and other regional networks owned by Sinclair Broadcasting join forces with Bally’s Corporation to work on interactive sports gambling.
Many, many people are extremely excited about this. Gambling on sports is already common, and now it will be easily accessible, in real time and already legal in some places. You will probably be able to bet on the results of games and even innings or bats. It will be tempting for so many people, and for some, irresistible.
But watching a baseball TV has always been an almost sacred experience – and the baseball broadcast was always a safe place, especially for those who accompanied their children, spent quality time with them and taught them about the great game. And finally, the Cardinals’ broadcasting itself will not only promote gambling, but encourage it. Just instead of Joe Camel or Spuds MacKenzie supporting a vice, there will be something or someone during the Cardinals broadcast.
It is clear that countless Americans have been betting on sports since the beginning of baseball. And many people can gamble occasionally, or even often, and do so responsibly.
Others can not. An addiction to gambling can ruin a person. It can crush a family. The effect is frightening.
Even those who are not addicted can get over their heads with games. It’s suffocating – gambling has the virtual effects of a natural disaster, and destroys your personal finances and home and lifestyle. And having graphics on the screen to entice midgame gambling means that in the years to come there will be more new players than before. And that also means a percentage of new losing players. And it’s discouraging and heartbreaking.
Yes, of course, there are contradictions. In St. Louis, much of our baseball culture is beer-based. For generations, families have come down to a stadium named after a beer brand. Inside, the children bubbled their heads together for a beer party at the stadium organist and the heath at Clydesdales which became known in beer commercials. There were beer ads everywhere – and beer everywhere. But that was only part of the experience.
So one might ask – if you’re cool about drinking infiltrating baseball, why not play? A couple of beers on the game or a couple betting on the game, what’s the difference or the big deal with either?
And these are fair arguments. But we can not predict what gambling will be like.
But one thinks that parents have to explain their children during cardinal games.
“Dad, what’s this fun thing on screen where you can guess what you think will happen? Can I play it on my phone?”
And the father says, “No, you can not, even if it seems fun, and they are sure to make it tempting for you and the video game generation. But when you are of age, you can do it, even though I really prefer it. if you do not invest your hard earned money on something you can not control. “
These conversations can be difficult or uncomfortable.
But that is the reality. I’m not trying to be naive about it. Legal sports gambling is the next generation of the fan experience. It happens.
And it’s time for families to decide how to discuss it.