When it comes to politics and sports, I have the same view as with politics and religion.
You’ve heard of the “separation of church and state,” right? Same goes in the separation of sports and state.
Rarely will I delve into any political pontification in my columns because, well, I’ve always been a sports columnist, a sports writer and a sports editor.
Sure, my wife used to be annoyed at my “sports, sports, sports, sports, sports (need I type the word anymore? Hundred times wouldn’t be enough …) attitude in life. But she’s grown to realize it’s what the majority of my income has been based on for years, and it’s much less melancholy or disheartening than the real world.
But I’m making an exception this week as the biggest sporting event of the calendar year is taking place at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Of course, that’s Super Bowl LI (51 for those Roman numeral challenged) between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.
And what is the biggest appeal to the Super Bowl? It’s gambling, pure and simple.
Sure, I guess you could have a rooting interest as a lifetime Patriots or Falcons fan, but more viewers are cheering against someone (Tom Brady) than for a team.
It’s all about the money. This one game is bet on more than any single game, and is the big brother of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament from a gambling standpoint. Sure, there’s more money overall bet on the NCAA Tournament next month, but that’s over the course of three weeks. The Super Bowl is one huge day of degenerate wagering at its best (or worst, depending on how you view it).
And here’s where I want sports and politics to intermingle.
In recent years, an average of $120 million has been wagered on the Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas alone. That’s legal betting in Nevada. So use a little logic and think about how much is bet illegally in the 46 states that don’t allow sports gambling (besides Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana allow sports betting).
How many people do you know personally that are in an office squares pool or doing prop bets online through offshore sites (both very illegal)?
Speaking of prop bets, I love some of them, such as which song will Lady Gaga open with in the halftime show (I’m going with “Poker Face”) or who will score the first touchdown. I actually won money (it was Monopoly money … in case you’re with the Internal Revenue Service) in 2006 when the Bears’ Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
So on this Super Bowl weekend, a holiday for gamblers all over the place, what better time to suggest our new President, Donald J. Trump, propose legalizing sports betting across the country.
I won’t go into too much detail on my political affiliation, but for the record, I have had issues with the last five administrations and haven’t voted for an Electoral College winner since 1996. But if Trump would be intelligent and go full force on sports gambling, I’ll stop visiting the website TrumpDonald.org and partaking in its endless fun (there have been more than 582 million “Trump-ets” on the site as of Saturday afternoon … I Just can’t get enough of it!).
There is just no logical reason why sports betting isn’t legal. Betting on horse racing is legal in most states. You can blow your savings account on slot machines and blackjack legally in most states. But you’re telling me I can’t put $50 on New England’s Shea McClellin to score the first touchdown on a fumble recovery return?
Think of how much money the government could make on taxing or regulating sports gambling. And people wouldn’t care because they love betting on sports.
Imagine Trump’s speech: “Legalized sports gambling will help balance our budget. It will be great. Let’s tear down the wall of illegal gambling and make America some money.”
Come on Donald. You own golf courses, you owned a team in the United States Football League (though that didn’t really go well … just watch the ESPN 30-for-30 on the USFL). You like sports and this would be great for sports and the country. Let’s do it.
Reach Sports Editor Steve T. Gorches at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.