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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Sports betting is legal in many states and according to an updated confirmation from, all states now can officially legalize sports betting if they wish after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban.

Of course, interest in legal sports betting ramps up every day. In the gambling world, and for some time, the game in which grown men either carry a pigskin or throw it to one another is known as “King Football.” The reason should be obvious:

No sport lends itself to betting better than one on which odds-makers can level the gambling field by assigning point-spreads for the purpose of helping bet-takers balance their “books” by theoretically attracting the same amount of betting action on both sides.

And since football, which polling says has replaced baseball as this country’s most popular sport, the new “American Pastime,” no league has been as popular, successful and powerful than the National Football League.

Having come to the fore as a result of mega-million dollar settlements the NFL paid to former players that suffered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the result of too many concussions, doesn’t the league now have a duty to warn fans now that betting on its teams is legal? To wit:

Unofficially, the Miami Dolphins may be in the tank and perhaps should be taken off the board. And just who believes that it is in the Dolphins best interest to lose all its games and conclude the 2019 season at 0-16? None other than Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida.

In a tweet reprinted on the front page of Wednesday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Rubio asked: “.@MiamiDolphins have been historically awful the first 2 weeks of the season. But which team is better off of the future? An uncompetitive 0-16 team with $160 mil in cap space & 6 of the top 65 picks in next year’s draft or a semi-competitive 3-13 team with limited cap space?”

This notion is food for thought.

The Dolphins would not be the first team to adopt a cavalier attitude toward winning, going through the motions for a season, at least in part, in order to secure the superstar of the future through the draft process.

Meanwhile, in the sports section, lead columnist Dave Hyde led with this statement: “If I ran the Miami Dolphins, I wouldn’t have traded Minkah Fitzpatrick. He represents the kind of 22-year-old player the Dolphins now need…”

The editor who wrote the headline picked up on Hyde’s lead, going with “Plan of Action?” But the message is expounded more clearly in the sub-head—read this carefully, Senator—“Draft-pick haul doesn’t guarantee future success.”

On a personal note, I watched one quarter of the Dolphins home opener in Week 1. The level of ineptitude was astounding on both sides of the ball. So much so that I, an inveterate underdog bettor, commented to a true football fan last week: “The Pats look like a steal at minus 18 and a hook.”

Said HRI’s expert sports handicapping contributor, Marc Lawrence: “Senator Rubio should stick to politics instead of having an opinion on something he knows nothing about. The Dolphins traditionally have an excellent record in September. All its early games are played at home and visiting teams are not used to the heat.

“No NFL franchise will ever be taken off the board. It’s Vegas’ job to make lines on the games; that’s their business.

“And I’ll tell you this. God forbid the Patriots need to win the last game of the season [vs Miami] to make the playoffs. We could see an unheard of minus 30 for an NFL game.”

[Ed. Note: As of this posting addendum, the Cowboys are favored by three touchdowns over the Dolphins].

As one might expect, the locals are openly unhappy with the situation and recognize what might be going on here.

A letter to the editor from Coral Springs under the headline “Uncompetitive Dolphins” summed it up: “Disgraceful. Shameful. No professional sports team should be allowed to do what the Dolphins are doing. Professional sports leagues should have competition committees that guard against these tactics.

“In Europe, teams are demoted if they are one of the worst-ranked teams—not rewarded with a first pick in the draft.”

And that might not even matter if Hyde’s closing words are prologue: “You can like the boldness of this big [long term] plan. You also hope the Dolphins turn their new No. 1 pick into as good a player as the one that just went out the door.”

So, will the NFL make some statement affecting the status of their own integrity with fans, that “our teams are out there giving it 110 percent at all times,” or that “we hear the rumblings” and go out and chat up their Vegas contacts?

Or will they do what some other gambling industry might do?                                                 

Of course–like the HBPA suddenly standing and screaming “no Lasix”–none of this will happen. At this moment in America, more than ever, it’s business first, people second. Point-spreads simply will keep rising until it reaches levels high enough to attract betting on both sides.

And isn’t that what the league and the networks really care about? Where is there a sports betting activist when you really need one?

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2 Responses

  1. The absolute worst thing that could happen to the NFL would be if the Dolphins long-range plan succeeds. Sports is a copycat business.

    The Astros and Cubs tanked for a few years and, with the draft rewards eventually became among the best in MLB. The 76ers did something similar in the NBA. As a result, the Marlins–especially the Marlins–the Orioles, the Royals and the Tigers have all gone into the tank this season hoping for similar payoffs down the road.

    Do we want an NFL where three-TD betting lines become commonplace? The league came to prominence with its “On any given Sunday” lure. What happens when that is not the case?

    Right now, TV networks are obligated to carry the home team’s games, every minute of them no matter how much of a blowout is in progress. Even ardent Dolphin fans will grow weary of watching their team get slaughtered when there is another game with playoff implications available.

    When the tune-out comes, the networks will demand rebates because of lower ratings.

    The NFL needs to step in and sanction teams that even casual fans can see aren’t really trying.

  2. All points well made; another couple of hundred words and next week’s column would have been written!

    BTW, the Dolphins, who opened +21, is up to +22.5 v Dallas tomorrow. Marc Lawrence made that 30-point reference with Pats in a do-or-die last-game-of-season scenario. Who knows, might get there before that in regular season.

    Assume you saw the HRI NEWS note; a bettor stands to make $102K if Dolphins go 0-16; bet $3.400.

    Who was that horse back in the day that was going to be some kind of 0-100 maiden, something like that?

    If Dolphins get to 0-14, ratings could go through the roof Weeks 15 and 16! Crazy.

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