#1633 Fights for Fair Pay, Journalism vs Sensationalism, Billionaire Bailouts, and Addiction Capitalism: Sports are a Microcosm of the Ills of Society (Transcript)

Air Date 6/4/2024

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast. Seemingly, the late Pope John Paul II said that, "Of all the unimportant things, football is the most important", referring to European football, of course. And arguably that could be extrapolated out to all of the other sports that people also invest much of their lives into following. But it's not just for the importance that people put on sports that it becomes a good topic for a political podcast; it's because the problems that arise within the systems of sports, are the same problems we all face everywhere, which makes them a good lens through which to understand the mechanisms of broader society: the fight for fair pay, both journalism and addictive games functioning under capitalism and unfair benefits for billionaires, all resonate far beyond the bounds of the 

players, owners and fans of sparks clubs. Sources providing our top takes today, include the University of Iowa, the PBS [00:01:00] NewsHour, Brett Coleman, LeBatardShow, MSNBC Reports, Robert Reich, and The Current. Then, in the additional deeper dive half of the show, there'll be more on the new world of pay for play for college athletes, the folly of taxpayer funded stadiums, sports journalism and capitalism, and the impact of addictive sports gambling.

Pay for Play: Should College Athletes be Considered University Employees? Part 1 - University of Iowa - Air Date 3-28-24

DAN MATHESON: I want to set the stage for the tectonic shift that is facing college athletics right now. It didn't happen overnight, and the path that has led to this moment provides much needed context for a full discussion of the issues that we're going to have tonight.

I want to begin by going back to 1984. In that year, the NCAA lost the antitrust lawsuit known as the Board of Regents case. In that case, the Supreme Court found that the NCAA's restrictions on the number of football games that could be televised each week were illegal [00:02:00] restraints on trade and commerce under antitrust law.

But there was a silver lining for the NCAA in that defeat: the Supreme Court acknowledged in its decision that some restraints on trade and commerce are necessary for college football to exist and wrote, quote, "The NCAA seeks to market a particular brand of football, college football. The identification of this product with an academic tradition differentiates college football from, and makes it more popular than, professional sports to which it might otherwise be comparable, such as minor league baseball. In order to preserve the character and quality of the product, athletes must not be paid, must be required to attend class and the like." End quote. 

"Athletes must not be paid." That dictum by the Supreme Court in 1984 became a foundation upon which the [00:03:00] NCAA based its legal strategy and its justification for amateurism for decades to come. But the protection the NCAA relied on from that Supreme Court decision would eventually come to an end, which I will talk about in a moment. 

20 years after that Board of Regents decision, legal challenges to the NCAA's amateurs and rules began like a snowball at the top of a mountain that grew as it tumbled downhill, and today the NCAA is at the bottom of that mountain, looking up at an avalanche coming at it.

I want to briefly walk you through a few of those important legal challenges to amateurism that have taken place over the past 20 years and set up the issues that we're considering tonight. 

First, in 2004, we have Jeremy Bloom. Jeremy Bloom was a unique [00:04:00] two-sport athlete who played college football [for] Colorado, but also was an Olympic-level skier, and he sued the NCAA because the NCAA denied his request to sign name, image, and likeness deals as a skier outside of his college sport. This was long before our current NIL environment that we've become so accustomed to. The NCAA won that lawsuit, and succeeded in holding off what was a very high-profile challenge to its authority. But in doing so, it sparked a national debate over the fairness of its amateurism rules.

Five years later, in 2009, the next legal challenge took Jeremy Bloom's fight one step further. That was a class action antitrust lawsuit known as the O'Bannon case. In that case, college athletes challenged the NCAA's amateurism rules that restricted them from profiting from [00:05:00] their name, image, and likeness in video games. This was the lawsuit that brought down the very popular EA college sports games that probably many of you students here played while you were younger. The O'Bannon case was an antitrust case, just like the Board of Regents case. So in deciding the O'Bannon case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was influenced by the Supreme Court's statement in the Board of Regents that athletes must not be paid. In the O'Bannon case, the court ruled that offering student athletes, quote, "Cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor. It is a quantum leap. At that point, the NCAA will have surrendered its amateurism principles entirely and transitioned from its particular brand of football to minor league status." End quote. 

That decision by the Ninth Circuit to protect NCAA [00:06:00] amateurism rules against payments unrelated to educational expenses further emboldened the NCAA and further enraged a growing number of amateurism skeptics.

Right around the same time as the decision in the O'Bannon case, another case challenging amateurism rules was decided in a different legal venue by the National Labor Relations Board. In 2014, The Northwestern University football student athletes sought recognition as a labor union by the NLRB. In that case, an NLRB regional director found the football players to be employees of Northwestern. But on appeal, the full NLRB in Washington, DC chose not to exercise jurisdiction over the case, because doing so, it said, would create instability in labor relations in college football. [00:07:00] So the players couldn't form a union, but the NLRB clarified it was not deciding whether the regional director was right or wrong in finding them to be employees, which helped further stoke the flames of the debate.

So in about a 10 year period, starting in 2004, you had the Bloom case, The O'Bannon case and the Northwestern case. And while the O'Bannon and Northwestern cases were going on, another class action antitrust lawsuit known as the Alston case was filed against the NCAA and that one would end up going to the Supreme Court.

The Alston case went a step further than the O'Bannon case in that the plaintiffs challenged any NCAA restrictions on college athlete compensation, not just NIL restrictions in video games. 

But by the time that case was litigated up to the Supreme Court, it was trimmed [00:08:00] back to a more limited focus on whether the NCAA was violating antitrust law by placing restrictions on educational benefits to student athletes. On that more limited question of educational benefits, the Supreme Court unanimously found the NCAA restrictions to be in violation of antitrust laws. And--this is significant--the Supreme Court rejected the NCAA's reliance on the Board of Regents decision and its "athletes must not be paid" comment as being some sort of safe harbor to protect the NCAA against amateurism challenges.

The Supreme Court noted in Alston how dramatically the economics of college football and college sports in general had changed in almost 40 years since the Board of Regents case, and emphasized that it would be unwise to rely on what was a stray comment [00:09:00] by the Supreme Court about student athlete compensation rules in Board of Regents, when those rules weren't even an issue in that case.

Taking things one step further in the Alston case, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion that signaled to future plaintiffs that at least one member of the Supreme Court would entertain a more expansive takedown of the NCAA's amateurism rules. Justice Kavanaugh delivered a searing indictment of amateurism that concluded with the following passage. Quote: "Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not [00:10:00] above the law." End quote.

What the historic $2.8 billion settlement to pay NCAA players means for college sports - PBS NewsHour - Air Date 5-24-24

GEOFF BENNETT - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: So I think it's safe to say the days of the amateur student athlete, college athlete, those days are over. Help us understand how significant this moment is.

PAT FORDE: Yes, this is the death of amateurism, which has basically been on the books forever in college athletics.

So it is a significant milestone. The castle walls of amateurism had been eroding for years, most specifically starting three years ago, when name, image, and likeness payments were first approved, but this is a major acceleration from that.

This provides, as you noted, back damages to four years' worth of college athletes who are no longer in their sports, and then also a framework to pay for a decade going forward. So this is a lot of money being transferred from the traditional coffers of the athletic administration, coaches, athletic directors, facility usage into — directly into the [00:11:00] hands of the players and it being done by the schools themselves.

That's the real change here.

GEOFF BENNETT - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: How soon could we see these payments start going out to student athletes?

PAT FORDE: I think it's going to be about 14 months from now, 15 months, setting into the 2025-'26 academic year. That's kind of what the target is right now.

There's still a million loose ends to this, so there's a lot of work to be done on the details, but that's the target date for when you will start seeing major sums of money going directly from institutions to the athletes.


How are schools thinking about compensating athletes in those sports that generate a lot of revenue versus those that don't, so, say, the star football player, the star basketball player versus the star pole vaulter?

PAT FORDE: Well, how this actually is going to be divided up is going to be one of the great sources of curiosity and ultimately controversy, I would imagine.

As it stands now, it seems like the [00:12:00] preponderance of thought is to make this an institution-by-institution decision. This will not be like a nationally mandated pay scale. There will not probably be conferences dictating how much is going to go to which athletes or which sports. It'll be up to each school to decide whether they can afford a full $21, $22 million a year in revenue for the athletes or if they want to pay something less than that, and then that is divided up.

Obviously, the football players, the men's basketball player and probably increasingly women's basketball players will get the majority of this, but then, even within the team, what sort of parameters are put on in terms of performance or recruiting star power or experience as far as who gets what? That's all that's good going to be have to be sussed out at the institution level.

And it's going to be quite, I think, a process to get to those deliberations.


To the point about women's sports, how does Title IX [00:13:00] factor into the financial calculus here?

PAT FORDE: Well, that's going to be another fascinating element of this, because, obviously, Title IX has really changed the game in terms of allowing females equal opportunity or near-equal opportunity to play their sports in college to the men.

But is equal opportunity the same as equal compensation? So far, in the NIL era, it hasn't been, that most NIL dollars have gone to men's football — or men's basketball and football players. So does this ruling have an effect on that and say, no women have to be compensated in a similar manner in terms of the actual outlay of money or just maybe the number of female athletes has to be somewhat commensurate or proportional to the men?

And then you decide what the money is. But that's going to be, I think a great major flash point of this, and I think we're going to be hearing a lot about that in the next year-plus.

GEOFF BENNETT - HOST, PBS NEWSHOUR: Yes, and one flash point is, how do these colleges and universities go about paying these student athletes without really [00:14:00] classifying them as employees? How are they weighing that question?

PAT FORDE: That's an attempt to thread the needle here by the NCAA and by college athletics. Once again, they have been playing the thread needle game for time immemorial of these people probably are employees in a business setting, but they don't want to be classified as such and they don't want to have to face antitrust legislation along those grounds.

So what they are hoping is for the significant movement here to get the attention and the motivation of Congress to help come up with some antitrust exemption for college athletics to protect it from further lawsuits and to have a system where athletes are sharing in revenue, where they are being compensated, but they are not necessarily considered employees of the university.


And lastly, Pat, this doesn't replace the NIL, the name, image and likeness opportunities for those student athletes that are able to take advantage of them?

PAT FORDE: It doesn't. No, NIL [00:15:00] is still going to be an ongoing fact of life. It'll be fascinating to see how much money is still in an NIL sort of pool versus what's now going into a strict, straight university reimbursement pool and if donors are necessarily less inclined to give NIL money now through a collective or otherwise, because they're already seeing athletes getting paid by the school itself.

But NIL will still be part of the dynamic and there will be schools that want to spend more than the $21, $22 million cap. And so they will turn to boosters or collectives and say, hey, can you help us out with this star quarterback over here? We'd like to give him some more money.

So the NIL era is changing, but it's not going away.

Pay for Play: Should College Athletes be Considered University Employees? Part 2 - University of Iowa - Air Date 3-28-24

ALICIA JESSOP: If you follow my journey in sports, I've had the privilege of writing for some of the greatest publications in the world. And when I started in journalism, you can go back to the very end of ruling sports, I said, I believe that there [00:16:00] are good stories about sports in this world. I am tired of hearing the negative stories, particularly about the NCAA. I knew there were good stories out there and I set out to tell them. 

But very quickly I realized that were there were some problems and I had a front row seat to Identifying them and addressing them. So now i'm going to go on script. 

It's easy to paint the NCAA as the big bad wolf, and admittedly it's something that I have done. But doing so loses sight of how we got to where we are today. 

Since the filing of O'Bannon, the focus on college sport has shifted from the field of play to the court of law. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on legal fees, only for massive blows to be dealt at every level of the American court system to the NCAA system of governance. In fact, in two legal challenges the association faces today, the House and Hubbard cases, it risks the possibility of having to pay damages greater than $5.1 billion. Repeated defeat calls [00:17:00] for a scapegoat, and in the world of college sports, the easy scapegoat to blame is the head governing body for college sport.

The story, though, of how we got where we are today, where examining whether college athletes are employees is something we're all spending our time doing, doesn't begin with O'Bannon, as we've examined here already. Nor does it start with NIL in 2021. I agree with Josh, and if I could redo this, I would go back to 1906.

I start 73 years ago, though, with the 1951 NCAA convention. And as I tell this story, I'm going to let you decide where blame lies. Is it with the head governing body? Is it with the universities? Is it with the media companies? Is it good old American greed? Or perhaps, can we stop laying blame and recognize that there is enough at the table for all to adequately be fed?

24 years before that fateful 1951 convention, a 21-year-old who lived the first 14 years of his life [00:18:00] without electricity unveiled an invention that would change the world. In a lab on San Francisco's Green Street, Philo T. Farnsworth wired to his fundraiser, quote, "The damn thing works," when after years of thinking, his contraption transmitted the first electronic television image.

It would be an understatement to say that television changed the American way of life. In 2023, 97 percent of the 125 million households in this nation owned a television. The average American spends three hours a day watching that device. Binge watching has become a common aspect of today's existence. But Farnsworth's invention hadn't proliferated American society in 1951. In fact, at that time, 96 percent of American households owned a radio, where only 12 percent owned a TV. As we are experiencing today with artificial intelligence, the potential reach and impact of new technology can spur fear in a populace awaiting its full rollout. [00:19:00] So it's not surprising that the three-person committee charged by the NCAA with figuring out what to do with what was called the, quote, "television problem," perceived that television posed the possibility of shaking up the status quo. If fans could watch games on TV, would they attend in person? If they didn't attend in person, what would happen to athletic department revenue? The committee determined, quote, "that the television problem is truly a national one and requires collective"--that's the key word there--"collective action by the colleges."

This is where the plot thickens. As the main character of our story, the NCAA's attempt to solve a " problem" ended in actually creating a bigger one, one that would embed the organization in decades worth of legal battles that it continues fighting today. To get the television problem under control, the association launched an association-wide TV plan that limited football teams exposure to two games per season. When one school, [00:20:00] Penn--and I'm not talking Penn State, I'm talking about the Ivy League school, which had televised all of its home games in the decade prior--pushed back, the association threatened to kick it out, and every team that had it scheduled for games that season canceled those games. So, needless to say, Penn acquiesced and hopped back on the system. 

In 1981, modifications were instituted into the plan wherein the NCAA negotiated an overarching four year, nearly $132 million deal with ABC and CBS. Each of the networks would carry 14 games per season. However, while they could negotiate directly with the schools the right to carry their games, there were limitations around what games could be covered. Schools could only be shown no more than six times in a two-year window, four of which nationally. And they would be paid out of that $132 million pot with the NCAA specifying ideas, but not requirements, for how the money could be allocated. [00:21:00] 

Since the turn of the 20th century--so this is the 1890s coming into the 1900s--marketplace competition has been a distinguishing aspect of the American economy. On July 2nd, 1890, Congress enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act. We are living today in a period of wide division in our American Congress, but this was a piece of federal legislation that everyone was on board with. One congressperson voted against it and it passed unanimously in the Senate. This law was enacted to combat the rise of trust that thwarted competition in this nation, like the Standard Oil Trust.

And so it was in the spirit of competition that in 1981, the NCAA's then-unchallenged television plan received its first real shake up. I don't consider Penn's attempt a real shake up because they backed down too quick. That summer, a group of schools organized as something called the College Football Association, hereafter the CFA, and they went [00:22:00] to ABC and CBS's competitor, NBC, and negotiated their own TV agreement. Pretty smart. Needless to say, the NCAA did not appreciate this because it would give these schools, quote, "an unfair competitive advantage to have more of their games broadcast on television and subsequently the ability to generate even greater revenues."

Unlike Penn though, two of the CFA schools, Oklahoma and Georgia, lawyered up. They sought a preliminary injunction preventing the association from disciplining them or interfering with their contract. Three years later, the case reached the United States Supreme Court. The seven to two decision by the court in Board of Regents versus NCAA deemed that the NCAA's television plan violated the Sherman Act, as it amounted to a restraint on trade and price fixing. 

This decision singlehandedly reshaped the landscape of intercollegiate athletics forever. That's because it opened up the marketplace for college sports tv rights. And the market quickly [00:23:00] responded. Where once 82 schools fought for a piece of a $132 million dollar deal, now schools and conferences could individually land lucrative deals, expanding their exposure and coffers. Notre Dame was the first to the market. I always love asking people who say that they're Notre Dame fans if they went there. Nine times out of ten, they didn't go there. And when you unpack why they're a Notre Dame fan, it's because they grew up watching the games on NBC. They were first to market, striking a five-year, $30 million deal.

And then the Southeastern Conference was the next to follow with its first conference deal, inking a five-year, $100 million agreement with CBS that continued until last year. 

Considering the athletic success of these programs across the last four decades, what opportunity was born from this initial financial advantage? Today, the valuation of the broadcast agreements for just the four biggest NCAA D One conferences, the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, and Southeastern conferences, along with the association's deals for men's [00:24:00] March Madness, the NCAA's other 40 championships, and then the separately-organized college football playoff, top $36.4 billion. So we're not talking about mid major conference TV deals. We're not talking about D2 or D3. $36.4 billion. That's a far cry from the $132 million allocated in 1981, which adjusted for inflation would be worth about $450 million today.

This influx of broadcast revenue into the college sport ecosystem has brought increased spending. In 2022, football bowls subdivision head football coaches saw a 15.3 percent rise in their average annual salaries. This is coming out of COVID. Ask the average American worker what raise they saw in 2022. USA Today data shows that public Power 5 conference schools will pay their head football coaches an average annual salary of [00:25:00] $6.2 million. These schools also pay their head men's basketball coaches average annual salaries of $3.35 million. In fiscal year 21 to 22, D1 FBS program spent $1.86 billion on college coaches' salaries, and another $2.04 billion on facilities and equipment. That same year, $1.19 billion was spent on athletic scholarships. I wish I had a whiteboard to write the number. 

So we're spending more on coaches salaries and facilities than we're spending on the entirety of college athletes. 

We are living in an age where there is infinite money to pay an in-demand coach and install lazy rivers and put-put courses in athletic facilities, but mention paying college athletes and suddenly the well dries up.

Sports Media has changed forever. - Brett Kollmann - Air Date 7-15-23

BRETT KOLLMANN - HOST, BRETT KOLLMANN: We are now firmly in an era where individual personal brands In sports media are king, and they [00:26:00] supersede pretty much everything else, including the corporate brands of the networks that employ those people. If you look at everything that's happened at ESPN over the last month or so, signing Pat McAfee to a mega deal, which he left an even bigger deal with FanDuel to take that deal with ESPN, and you overlay that with the unfortunate layoffs that happened at the same time, and it can feel weird, seeing the dichotomy of a whole bunch of talent get let go while at the same time they sign one talent for a lot of money. And I understand where those mixed feelings come from and why there's a lot of confusion about the state of sports media.

And as somebody who used to work in sports TV for a long time, I was in the trenches as a PA at NFL Network, cutting highlights, being in the control room for NFL Red Zone, doing graphics on Red Zone for years, working on virtually every single show that existed at that network at some point in time. And also at the same time doing local sports media at Time Warner Sportsnet, which was later [00:27:00] Spectrum Sportsnet, doing Lakers coverage, Dodgers coverage, Galaxy, Conca Cap, all that kind of stuff. Even going back to my time in high school, I started doing field cam work when I was 16. I started doing technical directing and directing when I was 17. So I spent a lot of my life in sports TV. And then I left all of that to YouTube for also almost a decade at this point. So I've been on both sides of the fence here. I have watched this transition happen, literally even to myself. So I feel like I'm in a unique position to comment on the state of sports media, and maybe give a little bit of context of what's actually happening at ESPN, or at least what I think is happening at ESPN. 

First things first, I do want to express as much empathy as I possibly can for everybody that did, unfortunately, recently get let go at ESPN. It was --I think it was twenty total on-air talent got let go. A lot of them, yes, were in very expensive [00:28:00] contracts. They were making great money. And I don't think that matters. And my buddy, Brandon Perna, made a great point when he did his video about this topic that for a lot of the folks that were on-air talent at ESPN that were not former professional athletes themselves, being on air at ESPN is literally their dream job. That is the pinnacle of the profession. That is what you work for is to be an on air talent at ESPN. And they had that. And unfortunately they got let go. And so these are people that literally in many cases lost their dream job. And regardless of the dollar amount of their contract, I think that it just sucks, right? Nobody wants to go through that. And so I empathize with that because it's a very hard thing to have everything you wanted and then have it slip through your fingers. So I want to express empathy first and foremost for those people. 

But I also want to explain the network perspective on why those layoffs were probably necessary from Disney's perspective. I do not believe that [00:29:00] Disney would have made those cuts unless they absolutely had to. Because typically, at least in this business, if a contract is not generating the revenue that they need in order to pay for that contract, they're just going to let it expire.

But these were outright layoffs. They were ending these contracts early. And I don't think they would have done that if Disney+ was not losing literally one and a half billion dollars a year. Disney+ has been a disaster for them financially for a lot of reasons, and there's a whole bunch of videos on YouTube that dive into why Disney+ has failed. But that has had an impact on the entire company as a whole. 

And so in order to make ESPN profitable, there's really only two paths they can take. The first path is obviously, hiring talent that they think is going to bring in enough eyeballs to generate ad dollars so they can be profitable. And the second path is cutting expenses, which means cutting talent that they do not believe is bringing in enough [00:30:00] eyeballs to generate enough ad dollars to pay for those salaries. 

And I do want to make a point here that these are two separate paths and two separate decisions. They're not necessarily linked together. There's not some salary cap that Disney has to adhere to where, oh, we have to cut all these contracts so that we can bring in Pat McAfee. It's really more like we're bringing in Pat McAfee because we need somebody that can generate eyeballs and get money injected into this company again, through advertising. And at the same time, unfortunately we need to get rid of contracts that we do not believe are bringing in revenue. Hence the layoffs. 

All these people that got laid off, I don't think that they would have got laid off if Disney felt that they were a plus on the balance sheet, as callous as that sounds. They need to make money. They need to be profitable. Because Disney+ is just an anchor on the entire Disney business, globally. Disney+ is dragging everything down. So ESPN has to make money. [00:31:00] And I think that those are the two paths that they're taking simultaneously. 

Now, for everyone else that is still at ESPN or FS1, or NBC, or print media, or any other outlet, anybody that's in sports media--and I know a lot of them are probably going to watch this because I know many of them all across these different outlets, so I'm sure a lot of them are going to see this video at some point--if you're watching this and you're in the industry, I want you to be aware of where sports media is right now from a consumer perspective.

Let's talk about what actually works in modern sports media and why a lot of legacy outlets are now having to play catch up with new media like YouTube and TikTok and Instagram and all the hundreds of creators. that are slowly but surely ripping eyeballs away from those networks. 

With the rise of all these different social media platforms, sports fans now have more options than ever for where they consume their sports content. Yes, they [00:32:00] could turn on a debate show in the morning while they're getting ready for work, which let's be honest, that format now is basically just background noise while people make their coffee and toast a bagel. But if they don't like the debate format, they don't have to watch that anymore. They're not locked in to network television. They can get a million different things from a million different sources. If they still want live sports content in the morning, that's a little bit more lighthearted and not so combative, they could throw in Pat McAfee. If they want something that's edited or prerecorded that just lives on YouTube, they can watch Tom Grossi's 30 in 30 series every morning. They can throw on Brandon Perna. They can watch The Pivot. They can watch FlemLo. If they want fantasy content specifically, like on-demand fantasy content because they're getting ready for their drafts, they can watch the Underdog Fantasy Channel, they can watch BDGE. If they want Madden content to get ready for the Madden release coming up, they can watch Bengal. 

There's so many options now. They don't have to watch First Take if they don't want to watch First Take. [00:33:00] This is not the 90s anymore. The audience is no longer captive. And I feel like it's taken a lot of legacy media outlets, in particular TV networks, it's taken them way too long to catch on to that fact.

For the first time ever, ESPN has to truly convince sports fans to watch their content over the hundreds of other content creators now that are making stuff for free. They never had to do that before, and they've had to change their entire content strategy as a result. And again, they're doing it a lot later than they should have. But I at least do want to give them credit for finally catching up. 

And everything that they've done over the last three weeks, by the way, in my opinion, is part of that new content strategy. ESPN is now taking a step back and they're not focusing so much on having the network brand be at the forefront. And instead they're letting individual talent brands take the spotlight. 

Dan Le Batard Tells Stephen A. Smith He Hates What He and Skip Bayless Did to Sports Media - LeBatardShow - Air Date 12-28-23

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: I hate what you two have done to sports [00:34:00] television. 

STEPHEN A. SMITH: You could say that all you want to. I would say, who the hell are you to sit up there and say, me and him? What about you? What the hell were you, living under a rock, teaching at Miami U? You were part of it too? You ain't innocent? 

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: I'm talking about all the imitators that you have birthed, all of the imitators that are all over the place thinking, without the journalism credentials, that the point of all this is to turn it into an argument on television.

STEPHEN A. SMITH: Well, I would take umbrage at what you're saying in this regard, Dan. Those people who don't have a journalism background, who don't exercise journalistic ethics and beyond, how are we responsible for that, when our background is based on that? 

Skip Bayless was a journalist for decades. I was a journalist for decades. We came, we come on television and [00:35:00] those ethics are applicable. The fact of the matter is, is that when I take a position, it's the same kind of position I would take right in the column. The difference is instead of writing 800 words and being limited to that space. I get to talk for a few minutes on each subject.

When was it, when did it happen that I ignored the fact that I was a journalist for the Winston Salem Journal, The Greensboro News and Record, The New York Daily News, and then The Philadelphia Inquirer, before I went to CNN/SI and then Fox Sports, and then ESPN? When was it, when did it occur in my career that I ignored the journalistic tenets that came with the job?

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: Oh, it's not ignoring them, it's that they shrink in the face of the need for the argument as entertainment. It's that Kellerman offers too much nuance, so we have to make it, in the form of entertainment, we have to... it's not that it's ignored, it's that the journalism becomes less important. It's the argument, it's the sparks, it's the debate [00:36:00] that needs to be carried. 

STEPHEN A. SMITH: Yeah, but where you're missing the boat, and I'm actually surprised that you're missing it, Dan, is that it's not about us. It's about the money. The fact of the matter is, is that somewhere along the lines, social media came into play. And even with YouTube, you have the ability to monetize your product. People look at whatever it takes to monetize those products, you know, their product, and they prioritize that, and that dictates what they do. If you are on social media, and guess what? You don't have to go to college and you don't have to take 18 credit semester hours like I did each semester. And you don't have to get a bachelor's degree. And all you got to do is go on YouTube, talk smack, find a way to build subscribers and viewers per episode and monetize [00:37:00] your brand, and you get to bypass all of that stuff. And there's an industry that's been put in place that allows you to do that. And you've elected to do that just to get paid. How the hell is that Skip Bayless and Stephen A's fault? Or Dan Le Batard for that matter. Or anybody else. They created those platforms. It's allowed to be monetized. People see that that has the potential to pay you more than a $75,000-$90,000 salary working in newspapers. Everybody don't have space for you to do talk radio, or a television show. So you figured out a way to do this, rather than punch a clock, work a nine to five in corporate America, at whatever job you're doing. And that's basically been more beneficial monetarily to you. How is that Skip Bayless, Dan Le Batard, Stephen A, Wilbon, Kornheiser, or anybody else?

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: Well, I don't think entirely, right?, that this category that [00:38:00] I'm talking about is something that I fit in just because you and I have had a long relationship. I don't think we've ever had an argument on or off the air. Like, the argument is not something that I pursue. I'm not saying it's not good for television. I'm not saying that. I just know that the show that you did with Skip Bayless was one kind of show. And then the one you did with Max was a different kind of show, at least in part. And you've said publicly that you didn't like how Max wasn't interested, as interested in the argument, in the sparks, as you were.

STEPHEN A. SMITH: What I'm saying to you is this: if people want to watch Dan Le Batard and they've come to know Dan Le Batard, they have an expectation of what they're getting when they click on the Dan Le Batard. And if you want to stay in business, you have to give the audience to some degree what they expect. Long before First Take was ever number one, [00:39:00] PTI was. PTI with Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser had been number one for 20 years. First Take has been number one in the mornings for 11. Nine years before we ever came along, nine, 10 years before we ever came along, they were doing it. 

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: So, I should blame them. I should blame. 

STEPHEN A. SMITH: No, no. No, no. What I'm saying is no one said it about them. No one said it about Around the Horn, which was there years before we arrived. No one said it about Jim Rome or what he's doing, and you know how great Jim Rome has been. The list goes on and on. Mike and the Mad Dog. 


STEPHEN A. SMITH: Mad Dog's screaming, Mad Dog been screaming since 1987. 

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: Oh, but you mutated it though. It's fair to say that you turned up the volume on all of it, that there are more flames around what you guys are doing.

STEPHEN A. SMITH: You're gonna sit up there with a straight face, Dan Le Batard and say, I turned up the volume on Mad Dog Russo. 


STEPHEN A. SMITH: Are you, have you lost your mind 

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: On the argument... 

STEPHEN A. SMITH: Are you crazy? 

DAN LE BATARD - HOST, LE BATARD SHOW: On Wilbon and Kornheiser, you guys turned up the volume, uh, you guys... 

STEPHEN A. SMITH: Okay. Okay. What [00:40:00] I'm saying is, is that I just named you a plethora of shows that existed before we ever came along. That's what I'm saying. We didn't create it. We saw what was there and we maximized it to the best of our ability. Just like you do. You'll go into what you don't like or whatever and I respect that. You know that. But what I'm trying to say is that you ain't no innocent birdie in all of this. 

You've attacked many people over the years. Now, you might have had a platform where you're joined with dudes and y'all are not a debate show, so you're not debating somebody, but you've gotten into debates on your own show with people. You've gotten into arguments on your own show with people. I don't know if that former executive for the Florida Marlins will ever be in business again after the way you excoriated him because you were upset at the assets that he traded away.

You have been holding people accountable for decades. And because you don't have [00:41:00] somebody to volley back off, you know, volley off back and forth with, oh, you innocent? You're not. You're a part of it, too, and I'm saying it's not a bad thing. It's a great thing, because your intellect, your perspectives, and everything in between are very fresh, they're informed, they're not ignorant, they're not devoid of facts, the fact of the matter is, you bring a fresh perspective, and there's a lot of people out there that want to be Dan Le Batard. 

So why are you tripping? You're right here with the rest of us!

Report Finds That Sports Owners Use Their Teams To Avoid Millions In Taxes- MSNBC Reports - Air Date 7-14-21

STEPHANIE RUHLE - HOST, MSNBC REPORTS: We're learning more about the money behind the scenes, off the court, after a bombshell report from ProPublica detailed how mega rich sports team owners use their teams to avoid paying taxes.

Take Steve Ballmer, for example. He's the billionaire owner of the LA Clippers. According to this report, he only paid 12 percent in federal income tax in 2018. That is a lower rate than players like [00:42:00] LeBron James, who plays at the Staples Center, and more shockingly, a lower rate than the typical food worker at the Staples Center. But here's the real scandal. Don't be mad at Ballmer. Look to your lawmakers. All of this is totally legal. 

Let's dig deeper and bring in one of the reporters who broke this story, ProPublica investigative reporter Robert Federucci. Robert, our tax code allows sports team owners to take deductions on team assets, like their cars, that depreciate in value. Uh, you don't get to deduct your car. Walk me through how this works. 

ROBERT FATURECHI: Yeah. So, I mean, the original idea, right, is if you have a widget factory, you purchase a widget-making business, over time, the assets that make up that business—so, the widget conveyor belt, the widget maker—are going to break down and you're going to have to replace them. They lose their value. [00:43:00] So, for sports teams though, the assets are media deals and player contracts and franchise rights. These are assets that sort of automatically regenerate. And not only do they not lose value, they typically rise in value. But nonetheless, owners are able to write them off and they're able to write off almost the entire purchase price of the team.

STEPHANIE RUHLE - HOST, MSNBC REPORTS: They rise in value a lot. So, how much money is the government losing by allowing these write offs to exist? Why on earth are they letting all this happen? 

ROBERT FATURECHI: Sure. So, take Steve Ballmer, for example. We found that during a recent five year span, he reported $700 million in losses from the Clippers. What that means is that he was able to pay about $140 million less in taxes. That number is inevitably only going to grow and probably grow [00:44:00] dramatically. What this tax treatment does for owners, essentially, it allows them, if they're profitable, it allows them to tell the IRS they're actually losing money, and if they happen to actually be losing money, they can tell the IRS they're losing vastly more money, and that money, you know, those losses cancel out profits from other ventures, and they don't have to pay taxes on them. 

STEPHANIE RUHLE - HOST, MSNBC REPORTS: Okay, this is completely insane because we're sitting here looking at an infrastructure deal and how we're going to pay for it and talking about taxing rich Americans, families whose household makes 400 grand or more. Four hundred grand, these team owners blow their nose with 400 grand and they are not paying taxes. Legally. Are there any lawmakers pushing to close these loopholes? And if so, how do we do it? 

ROBERT FATURECHI: Sure. So, I mean, one type of response we got from owners was, Look, if you take away this amortization benefit, the entire American [00:45:00] economy is going to break down. But in reality, not too long ago, sports teams were not able to take these kinds of write offs. The IRS would insist that the assets that they were writing off actually had, you know, real lifespans and were actually losing value. It wasn't until 2004 that Congress completely threw their hands up and allowed all types of assets to be written off in this way. So, you know, it didn't always work this way. And, you know, like you said, it's in the hands of Congress and the president to change it. 

STEPHANIE RUHLE - HOST, MSNBC REPORTS: Okay, you heard it here first. The entire American economy will not collapse if this is changed. People who defend this say that owners do have to repay the taxes,, if and when they sell the team, but that's like getting a massive interest free loan from the government. And this is how super rich people operate—I'm just going to borrow and borrow and borrow—when regular people out there would never be able to get a loan like that from the [00:46:00] government.

ROBERT FATURECHI: Sure. And not just that. I mean, a lot of owners will die while holding their team. And if that happens and you pass your stake onto an heir, the heir never has to repay those taxes that you save. That's just a loss for the American government.

The Sports Stadium Scam - Robert Reich - Air Date 2-10-23

Robert Reich: Billionaires have found one more way to funnel our tax dollars into their bank accounts, and if we don't play ball, they'll take our favorite teams away. Ever notice how there never seems to be enough money to build public infrastructure like mass transit lines and better schools? And yet, when a multi-billion dollar sports team demands a new stadium, our local governments are happy to oblige.

A good example of this billionaire boondoggle is the host of the 2023 Super Bowl State Farm Stadium. That's where the Arizona Cardinals have played since 2006. It was built after billionaire team owner Michael Bidwell and his family spent years hinting that they would [00:47:00] move the Cards out of Arizona if the team didn't get a new stadium. Their blitz eventually worked, with Arizona taxpayers and the city of Glendale paying over two thirds of the $455 million construction tab. State Farm Stadium is not unique. It's part of a well established playbook. Here's how stadiums stick the public with the bill. 

Step number one— "Billionaire buys a sports team." Just about every NFL franchise owner has a net worth of over a billion dollars—except for the Green Bay Packers, who are publicly-owned by half a million "Cheeseheads." The same goes for many franchise owners in other sports. Their fortunes don't just help them buy teams, but also gives them clout, which they cash in when they want to get a great deal on new digs for their team.

Step number two— "Billionaire pressures local government." Since 1990, franchises in [00:48:00] major North American sports leagues have intercepted upwards of $30 billion worth of taxpayer funds from state and local governments to build stadiums. And the funding itself is just the beginning of these sweetheart deals.

Sports teams often get big property tax breaks and reimbursements on operating expenses, like utilities and security on game days. Most deals also let the owners keep the revenue from naming rights, luxury box seats, and concessions—like the Atlanta Braves' $150 hamburger! Even worse, these deals often put taxpayers on the hook for stadium maintenance and repairs.

We taxpayers are essentially paying for the homes of our favorite sports teams, but we don't really own those homes. We don't get to rent them out. And we still have to buy expensive tickets to visit them. Whenever these billionaire owners try to sell us on a shiny new stadium, they claim it will spur economic growth, from which [00:49:00] we all benefit, but numerous studies have shown that this is false. 

As a University of Chicago economist aptly put it, if you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark. But what makes sports teams special is they're one of the few realms of collective identity we have left.

Billionaires prey on the love that millions of fans have for their favorite teams. This brings us to the final step in the playbook— "Threaten to move the team." Obscenely rich owners threaten to, or actually do, rip teams out of their communities if they don't get the subsidies they demand. Just look at the Seattle Supersonics.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz owned the NBA franchise, but failed to secure public funding to build a new stadium. So the coffee magnate sold the team to another wealthy businessman who moved it to Oklahoma. Now [00:50:00] that'll leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The most egregious part of how the system currently works is that every dollar we spend building stadiums is a dollar we aren't using for mass transit, hospitals, housing, or schools.

We're underfunding public necessities in order to funnel money to billionaires for something they could feasibly afford. So instead of spending billions on extravagant stadiums, we should be investing taxpayer money in things that improve the lives of everyone. Not just the bottom lines of profitable sports teams and their owners.

Because when it comes to stadium deals, the only winners are billionaires.

The gambling problem in sports - The Current - Air Date 4-3-24

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: Walk us through the basics of this—who is Jontay Porter and what is he accused of? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: So Jontay Porter is one of the backup centers for the Toronto Raptors. He's on a G League contract, which is a two way deal where he plays sometimes for the Toronto Raptors, sometimes for their minor league team in Mississauga, [00:51:00] Ontario—the Raptors 905—and what he is accused of doing is purposely exiting games early to have an effect on proposition bets. And I'm going to define proposition bets for you, Matt. Yes, please. For your listeners, because it's important. It's important to this discussion. A proposition bet, commonly known as a "prop bet," is a kind of bet that isn't on the outcome—the result of the game.

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: It's not about the win or the loss. 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: It's not about the win or the loss. It's about a player's performance. Famously during the Super Bowl, people will bet on what color Gatorade is going to be poured over the winning coach. That's a prop bet. It has no bearing on the outcome of the game in Jontay Porter's case they will have put together parlays for online book makers where it's how many points will he have in the game? How many rebounds, how many assists? Jontay Porter, in two games left early, meaning that anyone who bet the under [00:52:00] on him to get a certain number of points, a certain number of rebounds, a certain number of assists—if they picked the under, they won lots of money. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: I was reading about this, and they were saying that in some cases, some of these bets were five figures.


MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: They were placed on him. He left one of those games just four minutes in, saying that he had an eye injury that was re-aggravated or something like that, and there's a lot of money that's at stake here. 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: Yes. And the money is an important thing. So if you place a bet online on a player prop bet, like the kind of bet we're discussing, most bookies only allow you to place a bet of a $1,000 to $2,000—it depends on the bookie. These are bets of $10,000, $20,000—which is why they got flagged as suspicious because it was so much and, with all due respect to Jontay Porter— 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: He's a fringe player. 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: He's a fringe player. And frankly, he was only getting the opportunity to play because starting Raptor Center, Jakob Poeltl is injured—he has a torn ligament in his [00:53:00] hand. So, Jontay Porter was getting more playing time that he wasn't able to take advantage of because he was leaving the games early. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: Who— I mean, I'd said that some of the suspicion here is that perhaps he was involved in this, aside from being on the court, that he may have had other involvement.

Who is being suspected of placing these bets? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: That's part that's not really disclosed yet. It's the MBA that's investigating this case and they haven't given a lot of information. When I reached out to them and other investigating bodies about this investigation—if it's even happening—the reply is, "We're looking into it."

They offered no other details, including who placed those bets. It's just that ESPN report that says several different parties were placing bets of $10-20,000 on Jontay Porter leaving games early. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: Is the suspicion that he could have placed bets on himself? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: Allegedly, I mean it if he's not placing them himself Then the suspicion would be that he is working in party [00:54:00] with people who knew that he would leave the game early. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: And why would he do such a thing? Is this just about cash money? Like, do you make lot of money in these bets? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: In these situations that would be the case. Yeah 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: We heard his brother there. Have the Raptors said anything about this? Has Jontay Porter said anything about this? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: Jontay Porter has not been made available and although, Raptors head coach Darko Rijakovic has made comments and, the team officially has no comment and, we asked players about it, they don't know anything.

 Darko Rayakovic was asked specifically, "Did you think it was weird when Jontay pulled himself out of the game twice?" He said, well, of course I trust my players. Like, if my player tells me he's sick, I'm going to listen. Cause why wouldn't you, right? 

And the other players on the team also said we don't know anything. This is upsetting, but we know, they all said, we know as much as you do. Like they learned as we did as news broke. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: We introduced this by saying that there were a couple of different things unfolding. [00:55:00] One is this issue of Jontay Porter and the NBA. The other one is the baseball superstar caught up in a different gambling scandal. Just briefly walk me through that. What do we know about what may have happened there?

RICHARD DEITSCH: Yeah, so there's some conflicting reporting when it comes to Shohei Ohtani—who, if you want to think about it in a modern context is your modern equivalent of Babe Ruth— and what Shohei Ohtani is saying is that his longtime interpreter, but "intrepreter" is really probably not even a fair description, it's his longtime very, very close compatriot and friend— had a gambling problem. And ultimately, because, allegedly, the friend had access to Shohei's funding, was able to pay off significant debts— close to five million dollars—using Shohei Ohtani's money to pay off these debts. Where it gets a little interesting and suspicious, if that's the right word, is that the story [00:56:00] had changed.

Initially, the story, which the interpreter told to ESPN in a 90 minute interview, was that Shohei Otani had paid off this problematic gamblers' debts because he cared about his friend and wanted to help him out. The framework of all this is that we're not necessarily dealing with bets that you make in legal gambling entities in the United States.

This was done through an illegal bookmaker. So Major League Baseball, just like the NBA, has said they're investigating this. Looks like the U. S. Attorneys are investigating the bookmaker in California, and we'll see what happens. The cynic would say that the investigation may be a little bit like Casablanca because I'm not sure how much baseball would like Shohei Ohtani to be under the microscope.

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: People have been betting on sports since sports have been played, probably. [00:57:00] How different is this now? How big is the sports betting industry right now, Richard? 

RICHARD DEITSCH: It's massive. People who live in Ontario obviously can get a little sense of it because it's very, very hard to watch any program on SportsNet or TSN, depending on the medium, without being inundated with gambling ads.

 Just think of the population in the United States compared to Canada—it's 10x. So that's how much more you'd be inundated in the United States. I think, at this current juncture, there's 38 states where sports gambling is legal in the United States. There's still some big ones out there that are expected to become legal. So, you really can't, essentially—if you are a sports fan, I would say even a casual sports fan in the United States, you really cannot escape the sports gambling element. It's essentially everywhere. And I would also say, just to be fair, as people who work in the media, there's almost no sports entity that, that has some kind of [00:58:00] content or media play that doesn't have some kind of affiliation with a gambling network. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: John, you were nodding along as Richard was saying that. I mean, ESPN has a sports betting analysis segment, HockeyNet in Canada, other sports as well. How entwined now is this with pro sports? 

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: There's official sponsors who are bettors.

 After the Jontay Porter news broke, we spoke to veteran forward Garrett Temple, who in addition to being one of the veterans in the Toronto Raptors locker room, he's also a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association—their union—and we asked him about it and he said, yeah, it's kind of awkward we're not allowed to bet on basketball. And that's the NBA rule. They can't bet on the NBA, or the WNBA, or the G League, or any associated basketball product. But we have official sponsors, like DraftKings and FanDuel. You see it in the arenas. The Toronto Blue Jays have it. 

MATT GALLOWAY - HOST, THE CURRENT: These are these legalized entities here.

JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL: Yeah, these are legalized entities in Ontario, and they are in business, literally "in business," with [00:59:00] Major League Sports. 

Note from the Editor on the value of sports to building community

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips, starting with the University of Iowa in two parts, discussing the new pay-for-play rules. Same with the PBS NewsHour. Brett Kollmann looked at the changing landscape of sports journalism. LeBatardShow hosted a debate about the economic drive towards sensationalism. MSNBC Reports discussed sports owners using their team to avoid taxes. Robert Reich explained the scam of publicly-funded stadiums and The Current looked at the problems of sports gambling. And that's just the top takes; there's a lot more in the Deeper Dive section. 

But first, a reminder that this show is supported by members who get access to bonus episodes, featuring the production crew here, discussing all manner of important and interesting topics, often trying to make each other laugh in the process. To support our work and have those bonus episodes delivered seamlessly to the new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support--there's a link in the show notes; through our [01:00:00] Patreon page if you prefer; or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. 

If regular membership isn't in the cards for you, shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

Now, before we continue onto the Deeper Dives after the show, I have just a few thoughts.

I occasionally find it sort of amusing to repeat the fact that I paid quite a lot of attention to sports up until 1997 or so. I was pretty deep into it, mostly watching baseball, football, and hockey. Then at the wise old age of 13 or so, I took stock of my sports-watching time commitments and realized I was basically wasting my finite time here on earth watching sports. So I stopped, cold turkey, and never went back. 

And then it took another 25 years or so for me to soften my stance on the wastefulness and unimportance of watching professional sports. 

Now I see it as a worthwhile lens through which to [01:01:00] observe society, even if I don't follow teams closely or watch the games myself. And I also have a better impression of those who watch sports, particularly as an excuse to come together, spend time with friends and family, share special moments, make memories, that kind of thing. 

In fact, just today, I realized that when I was quite young, most of my sports watching would have been done with my older brother. But by the time I was 13, he'd moved out of the house. So when I decided that watching sports was a waste of time, what I really may have been feeling was that watching sports alone was a waste of time. And I pretty much still agree with that. 

But in terms of using sports as a window into the nature of culture and society, sports documentaries are actually a great place to start. I've definitely watched more sports documentaries in the last two years than I've watched sports games in the past decade. And I found them very insightful often [01:02:00] or revelatory, depending on what you're trying to get out of it sometimes. 

With all that said, it's still the fact that producer Deon here at the show is a sports fan, that I am reminded to take time now and again to focus on the intersection of sports and politics. It's Deon who reminds me that sports are important because they're a microcosm of the rest of society. 

For instance, as maybe a parallel to the influence of money in politics and how that distorts what politicians do and what they vote for and what laws were able to pass, and how we get a distorted perception of ourselves as to what our country believes in. I think like, gun safety laws that we cannot get passed. And we think, well, I guess the country doesn't believe in it. But no, that's the influence of money. 

So think of that compared to the sports system being overly consumed by capitalism and gambling. It will distort the game out of recognition. It will be hard to say whether [01:03:00] what we're looking at is a reflection of reality at all. Or if it ended up with a simulated version of sports to watch where the influence of the betting system throws everything off. And if that is the case, then what are we all even doing here, right? Deon made this point to me, to which I responded, speaking of the concern over reality just being a simulation, aren't we having that same problem with the entire universe as a whole? He said, Sports really is a microcosm. Sort of makes you think. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: And now we'll continue with deeper dives on four topics. Next up, "Pay for play." Deeper Dive Section B: "Stadiums, Our Great Folly" and—by the way—I know it's a deep cut, but one of the rarely used secondary definitions of the word "folly" is, "A costly ornamental building with no practical purpose built in a large garden or park," which doesn't exactly describe stadiums, but [01:04:00] comes a lot closer than it should. 

So I just want to make sure that you enjoyed that double meaning wordplay along with me. Anyway, that's section B. Deeper Dive Section C: "Sports Journalism" and Section D: "Sports Gambling."

Yahoo’s Ross Dellenger: What NCAA Suit Settlement Means for Paying Players - The Rich Eisen Show - Air Date 5-23-24

KIRK MORRISON - HOST, THE RICH EISEN SHOW: These antitrust lawsuits that are being, that are going on right now, I'm seeing conferences or agreeing to the payout, but where's the money go? Is it going to the players or going back to the institutions? What, what does this pay out from these antitrust lawsuits that have been going on? I'm trying to keep up Ross and I'm like, how does it, what does this involve the players or no?

ROSS DELLENGER: Yeah, it definitely involves the players and it is complicated. You know, the, the settlement and it should be finalized by the end of the week, by, by Friday, uh, I will, I'll show you a portion of it should be finalized at least the NCAA in the power five conferences, which are the six defendants. in the case, they will have authorized the settlement by Friday.

It's got a long way before it's actually finalized. But the settlement right now, according to documents of [01:05:00] sources who are knowledgeable about it, will include kind of three parts. So The first part is the back damages to athletes owed NIL payments before NIL was implemented. There are four years before NIL, four years before athletes could earn compensation from their NIL.

Those athletes around 12, 15, 000 of them is the estimate will get, will be distributed, um, 2. 8 billion. That's the, that's the back damage and settlement to those athletes. So that's the first. Part of the settlement. The second part of the settlement is kind of the forward thinking part where, um, schools will be permitted, not required, but permitted to share revenue with athletes.

Um, we don't know exactly the specific amount, but it will probably be around 20 to 21, 22 million dollars. a year per school can can share with [01:06:00] athletes. It's kind of like there's a salary cap that will be put on that of around 2122 million. But that will fluctuate as the settlement, which is 10 years in length, goes on.

So that's the second part. And the third part, it's kind of a re Structured NCAA, um, where power conferences will have more control. Uh, we'll be able to create their own rules and probably enforce them. There'll be probably be a new enforcement arm. There'll be some changes to some other kind of granular things, scholarship limits, roster, things like that.

KIRK MORRISON - HOST, THE RICH EISEN SHOW: So we know that the money's going to be coming in Ross, is that what you're saying with all of these expansion of. Conferences. I saw that yesterday, though, that the college football playoff will now expand, um, its viewership opportunities, not just from ESPN, but now TNT will now hold, um, a first round matchup, I believe to first round matchups in the first couple of years, and then they'll have quarterfinals and we'll see where that [01:07:00] goes along.

But it just shows you now that college football has expanded viewership opportunities. That's more money. And now this money can now go into the pockets of the student athletes. But if I'm a volleyball player or water polo or soccer, am I entitled to what the football revenue brings in from these TV contracts?

Or is this going to be something that the NCAA is still trying to figure out how to disperse these collective television contracts coming into each university? 

ROSS DELLENGER: That is, that is a key issue is how you distribute, you know, if you hit the cap, if a school hits the cap around 20, say this around number 20 million, because of the federal title nine law, which requires higher education in education institutions to share, to offer equal opportunity to men and women.

Do you have to split? down the middle. That 20 million is 10 million go to football and men's basketball, say, and then 10 million [01:08:00] go get spread out to women athletes. A lot of These women's sports, obviously, um, in the grand scheme of things, right? Um, call schools, millions of dollars. They, they lose, they lose money.

Most of this money, as you mentioned is coming from, is generated from TV contracts in ticket sales around, around football, uh, in, in a little bit of men's basketball. So how do you do that? Do you, do you follow. The title nine law, are you required to follow the title nine law and do you split the payments or is there a way around this where you can give more of the, the money to the players who sport generated, which would be football and men's basketball.

It is a key question in all of this. Uh, and so is these booster collectives. Do they continue outside of the university offering athletes money? And does that money Count toward the cap. I don't think it will. Um, so there's a way to potentially for schools to circumvent the cap by going outside with their [01:09:00] booster collective.

And there's a way toe potentially circumvent title nine by either by either not doing it or going outside as well. So a lot of questions still on the disbursement of the money to athletes. 

“Amateurism Is Dead” - ESPN’s Jay Bilas on the Future of NCAA Sports - The Rich Eisen Show - Air Date 5-29-24

RICH EISEN - HOST, THE RICH EISEN SHOW: With the court cases and a settlement, it appears, between the NCAA and, um, I guess the Jeffrey Kessler led class, um, of players. I imagine, um, I might be botching it, but what is happening here and what's your prediction as to what happens next, if you don't mind? 

JAY BILAS: Well, a lot's going to depend on what Judge Claudia Wilkin does, uh, the, the federal court judge out in California.

So she has to approve this settlement. The settlement's basically in two parts. One of them backward looking damages, uh, for the harm that was caused by players due to the antitrust violations of the NCAA. And that's in the neighborhood of 2. 8 billion payable over 10 years. The [01:10:00] other is revenue sharing.

That's the forward looking piece of this. And my understanding after reading what I've read is that players are going to be eligible to receive up to 22 percent of revenues going forward. That's a cap. And my question for the court when the settlement is presented is what other cap is there? Whom else is subject to a wage cap other than players?

Because coaches are gonna be able to be paid as much as a school wants to pay 'em. Uh, and I don't, I don't think players should be capped, absent some sort of collective bargaining agreement where the players agree to it. To me it's not enough. And what what's clear to me is the NCAA through this settlement is gonna try to take this to Congress and say, here's a framework that we've agreed to with, uh, with the, the plaintiff's lawyers and the plaintiffs in the class.

We want you to put this into law so that they can cap [01:11:00] all this at 22 percent and that and that doesn't even mean that they have to pay anything to players if they don't want to. I think the market will dictate they have to, but a 22 percent cap with the way revenues have exploded are continuing to go up in college sports to me doesn't sit well with me.

We'll see if it sits well with the, uh, with the players and what their objections. Uh, to this settlement and objections going forward. But one thing we know for sure, rich amateurism is dead. I think it was dead a long time ago, but they pulled the plug. Now they're going to be the players are going to be paid directly by their universities now, which was a long time coming.

And that hopefully will mean contracts for the players and they can put buyouts in them. So the schools feel like they have some more protections. But amateurism is now dead. It's, it's purely professional sports. And the only thing that differs from the NBA or the NFL is, uh, is they, the players have to be enrolled in school.

That's it. 

Pay for Play: Should College Athletes be Considered University Employees? Part 3 - University of Iowa - Air Date 3-28-24

ALICIA JESSOP: I'm a big believer in the power of education. I'm a first generation college student. My father, who experienced [01:12:00] homelessness as a child, preached to me that education was my way out. I bought the sermon. I've been privileged with an incredible life and career thanks to my undergraduate and legal educations.

I also understand the value of a college scholarship. My father spent 40 years working on a factory line in the Coors Brewing Company. He and my mother provided me with a great life and home, but they didn't have the cash to finance my legal education. I was 38 years old when the 100, 000 I borrowed to pay for that education was finally paid off.

I say that to make apparent that I don't tread lightly when I say that most revenue producing college sport athletes are employees. Let me be clear. I do not believe that every college athlete is an employee. Rather, I believe that the two regional NLRB offices in the Northwestern and Dartmouth cases and the head NLRB in the Northwestern case got it right when they said that the right to control test is the correct test to apply to assess whether a college athlete is an [01:13:00] employee.

The right to control test looks at the level of control an employer exerts over how a worker does their job. By evaluating a set of factors, the greater the level of control exerted across those factors, the more likely it is that a worker is an employee who can access the benefits of the National Labor Relations Act.

I'm not gonna go through the factors, because that would be kind of boring. Not to say it's gonna be boring if someone else does it, but I'm going to give you some examples of control that I've seen in my experience as a journalist, as a lawyer, as a professor. Here's where I've seen control. It's not seeing the men's basketball players in my class at the university of Miami for close to a month during the school year, when they went on to win the NIT.

It's not because they were ditching those young men were always in class. They weren't in my class that month because the university kept them out on a business trip and kept them in New [01:14:00] York or the Northeast instead of bringing them home to go to school. It's a college football player falling asleep in the front row of my class because the television network scheduled a midweek game in a different state and he didn't get home until 4 a.

m. It's the quarterback in my class staying afterward to ask me if I know what the symptoms of a concussion are. When I tell him, no, I'm a lawyer, not a doctor, and ask why he's asking, he says, did you see what happened to me? No, I say, He says, my molar got knocked out in the game and coach told me to stop being a P word and go back and play.

Think about your molar getting knocked out. The amount of force that has to come across your head for a molar to fall out, and then not to be held out for one play seems a little problematic to me. It's the student I met who I mentioned earlier who had the reading skills of probably a 6th grader, but made it into two top 50 universities because he had NFL level talent.

I love it. [01:15:00] It's a student not being able to pick a science major because it conflicts with their practice schedule It's me spending my free time helping young men who played college sports around this nation find jobs after their playing career ends Because as one who competed at the university my missouri told me Nobody ever told him what he was capable of other than football.

And the football program demanded so much of their time that they didn't gain internship experience or meaningful networks during their college experience.

Coming back to where I started, I don't think the head governing body for college sports wanted to be where we are today. Where very valid arguments exist for the employee status of college athletes. Some may say that their television plan was an attempt to hold monopoly power, but I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I think they wanted to preserve the amateur nature of college sports and keep greed out of the game. But the Supreme Court's decision in 84 open Pandora's box and the reality of [01:16:00] college sports today is that is it is a 25 billion annual generating enterprise whose power and control is largely held by media companies and the conferences benefiting grandly from those media deals.

These media companies call all the shots. They schedule the games. They drive the bargaining power at the negotiation table to the point where West Coast schools leave historic conferences to join East Coast schools, increasing both the travel footprint and missed class time for their college athletes and the revenues that said schools generate.

D1 revenue producing college athletics is not an extracurricular. It is big business. We see this in that the expenditure for college coaches salaries and facilities often topples those of their professional counterparts. We know it's a big business because schools that say they don't have money to pay college athletes are spending tens of millions of dollars on lobbyists, hundreds of millions of dollars on legal fees [01:17:00] and possibly billions of dollars in legal damages to preserve the status quo.

As I mentioned at the outset, repeated, repeated defeat in the court of law calls for a scapegoat. Who got us to where we are today? I'll leave that for you to consider. But as sport tells us, repeated loss also calls for a new game plan. And if the NCAA wants to put an end to the litany of legal challenges it faces, it needs to turn course.

Turning course requires more than accepting that college athletes can benefit from the right of publicity that is afforded to every American. College athletes didn't gain some new right. Their right was finally restored to them through NIL. It requires coming into compliance with the law in full. And such necessitates understanding when and how the right of control test indicates that some Namely division one revenue producing sport college athletes are employees of their respective universities I know what some of you are thinking right now Here's some questions that [01:18:00] might be rolling through your head But where is the money going to come from to pay these athletes too?

Is this the end of women's and olympic sports? You What are the unintended consequences of this legal status? I've already talked a lot, so I'm not going to address those in full, but I'm happy to more. But I'll give you a few thoughts on each. I tell my students to question everything, so I hope that you'll do the same.

Don't buy that there is no money in the system. Likely this will require the reallocation of funds. Top college coaches will see pay reductions. Strength trainers will no longer earn $1 million per year. The stadium and facility spending boom will slow. Beyond that, a review of Power 5 Conference Schools 990 Forums, one of my current favorite activities, shows that there's cash in the coffers.

We were told that NIL would mean the death of women's and Olympic sports. That threat has not become reality. Instead, we are living in a time where thanks to an [01:19:00] incredible athlete from your own university, women's college basketball is seeing unprecedented success. We see from the viewership and ticket sales numbers for women's college basketball this season that opening up a market can produce greater demand for a product.

Olympic athletes now have longer windows also to financially benefit from their incredible gifts. What though of the unintended consequences? First we must recognize that the potential horror stories thrown around by those against recognizing the employee status of d1 Revenue producing sport college athletes are already true.

These things are already happening on college campuses People warn that if college athletes are recognized as employees, they would be quote fired for poor for poor poor performance Tell me what is different between that scenario and a coach, maybe one of the greatest coaches in college football history, routinely gray shirting college athletes to build winning teams.

[01:20:00] People today sport, people today say sport is the wild, wild West. My maternal grandfather was a cowboy and I'm not sure he would agree with that analogy, but the system is currently being shaken by the slow breakdown of the cartel with new additions like NIL and the transfer portal. The NCAA continues unsuccessfully and to the tune of millions of dollars in lobbying fees trying to persuade congress to grant it Antitrust immunity and deem college athletes to not be employees The likelihood of congress passing such bills is as good as caitlyn clark not being the number one overall wmba draft pick.


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Now entering deeper dive section B: stadiums are great folly.

Why Are Taxpayers Paying For Stadiums? - Long Story Short - The Daily Show - Air Date 10-27-23

DESUS NICE - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Right now, we're in a sports stadium building boom, and just about every one of them is funded by taxpayers. So how are billionaire team owners able to get these sweetheart deals? Easy. When asking for taxpayer subsidies, Teams come to a community like a dude asking for an open marriage. [01:21:00] Nah, girl, it's not just good for me, it's good for you, too!

Now, they say these stadiums will spread economic growth throughout the community. 

These owners also claim these stadiums will increase property values. Which is one of the biggest lies in the world. What kind of psycho is like, Yeah, I want 50, 000 drunk idiots pissing on my stoop every night. No way, bro. If any drunk idiot's gonna piss on my stoop, it's gonna be me. Next, they promise to donate money to the community or build affordable housing.

And if none of that works, uh, they threaten to move the team. And it usually works, because even though using taxpayer money in stadiums is usually unpopular, losing a team could end a politician's career. Like, for example, if Mayor Eric Adams lost to the Knicks, he would be deported. All the way back to his real home in New Jersey.

But the truth is, a lot of the time, those owners are bluffing, and we know that because they admit it. [01:22:00] 

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: David Samson, the former president of the Marlins, largely credited with being a Pulling off the worst stadium deal for Miami Dade taxpayers. It's actually a pretty easy playbook. I get a lot of credit for doing the Marlins Park deal, but it really wasn't very difficult because Miami did not want to lose its baseball team and all we had to say is that we're ready to leave Miami if we don't get a deal done.

Let me ask you, were the Marlins going to leave Miami, David? Truly. Absolutely not.

DESUS NICE - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: See? These guys are full of shit. They were never going to leave Miami, because no one ever leaves Miami. Like, even people who are just visiting don't leave Miami. Now the cousin who went to a bachelor party six months ago, he's still in a club partying with BBLs. So, the teams get their free subsidies, and now that they have their brand new stadium that boosts their value.

But don't worry. Because in return, the city gets hundreds of millions of dollars worth of jack shit. 

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Economists who study stadium subsidies say little or none of the money makes it back to taxpayers. One [01:23:00] economist estimated that the contribution of a professional baseball team is similar to that of a mid sized department store.

As a University of Chicago economist aptly put it, if you want to inject money into the local economy, it would be better to drop it from a helicopter than invest it in a new ballpark.

DESUS NICE - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: Wait, that's an option? Yo, I wish they'd drop a giant bag of money in my neighborhood. Like, rest in peace to the person it lands on, but it'd be a payday for the rest of us. So the economic boost they promised doesn't pan out. And I know that personally, because I saw that in the Bronx. In exchange for that 20 acres of parkland, the Yankees promised to donate 40 million to affected areas.

But the media community has not seen a dime from the team. And more immediately, And more importantly, we haven't seen a World Series in like 20 years, though. Like, if you want to screw my community out of 40 million, fine. That's business. But me [01:24:00] not getting a ring, that's personal.

I mean, at the very least, these teams could toss out some more shirts during games. Like, how do you have 25, 000 fans in an arena and only toss out ten T shirts? And they're all size XL? Do mediums cost more? And also, could we please get a T shirt cannon that can hit the 300s? What the f? Up top in the row!

Up top! And the thing that really gets me heated These stadiums aren't even that old. Stadiums for the Braves and the Rangers last like 20 years before they built new ones. You can't be replacing a stadium that Leonardo DiCaprio would still hit.

I'm not gonna be in Titanic 2. Sorry. But you know what the worst part is? How much this sucks for the fans. Because suddenly the team they've been rooting for their whole lives starts extorting them for a fortune. And all they can do about it is to go to the stadium, And cuts out the owner, which is what they did in Oakland.

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Check this out. [01:25:00] A's fans packing the Oakland Coliseum for the first time in what seems like forever to send a blunt message to the Athletics top brass. A season best crowd of nearly 28, 000 A's fans came out to the Coliseum for what was deemed a reverse boycott, which encouraged owner John Fisher to sell the team so it can remain in Oakland.

instead of moving to Las Vegas. Tonight, you should call us cheers. South Shore sucks! South Shore sucks! Fisher, get the hell out of here. 30, 000 people are going to show up tonight to show John Fisher that he sucks. That's how you do it. Listen, I'm an East Coast boy, but Oakland, paying

DESUS NICE - HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: 20 to cuss out a man you've never met is big New York energy. Respect. 

Nick Wright won’t be a Chiefs fan if they move to Kansas - What's Wright? With Nick Wright - Air Date 3-31-22

NICK WRIGHT - HOST, WHAT'S WRIGHT: The public funding of stadiums is one of the [01:26:00] most It's something that I promise you, history will not look upon fondly when people are like, oh, what was one of the reasons American infrastructure and public schooling all seem to fail?

And they're going to be like, well, there's money issues, a lot of things. And then they're going to be like, oh, well, that's funny because all these municipalities sure seem to find a billion dollars when they needed it to build a stadium that's going to be used a dozen times a year. With that said. There are certain cities in America that I think you can justify the public kicking in some dollars to the team and Buffalo might be one of them.

So here's, here's my general point. Take your top 15 cities in the country. All of them should come together, have a meeting of the mayors or the governors of the states, however you need to do it, and make a pact and all a nice little collusion against the leads. Guys. [01:27:00] None of us are ever paying a dime.

You know why? Because pro sports leagues want to be in New York. They want to be in LA. They want to be in Dallas. They want to be in Houston. They want to be in Miami. They want to be in DC. They want to be in San Francisco. Their threats to leave are hollow threats. We never need to pay a dollar. If we're a major American city for a team, the leagues want to be here.

The owners have the money. Let them pay. Now, a city such as Buffalo, you can make the argument that the difference between Buffalo and Schenectady is one thing, that they have pro sports, they have the Sabres and the Bills. And that I, you know, I've said for a long time growing up from Kansas City, what's the difference between Kansas City and Des Moines?

Well, aside from the history of Kansas City and the amazing barbecue and the jazz, all that, the real contemporary difference was. Kansas City had the Chiefs and the Royals and Des Moines didn't. So I [01:28:00] do understand why a small city might feel incentivized to make sure their team doesn't move. So I get why the bills are doing it right.

The Buffalo's doing it. It's the state of New York that's doing it. And I know these two headlines aren't exactly, uh, aligned, but around the same time, I found out the state of New York's going to kick in about 800 million for the Bill's stadium. I read in the New York times. Our new governor say there's about an 850 million New York state public school shortfall.

You got to piss me off to be totally honest. But I, if you're Buffalo, if you're green Bay, if you're a small city that is kind of just happy to have a team, I get why you might want to make sure the team never leaves. But big cities should never pay a dollar to these leagues. They get tricked by them.

They're never leaving. Pro sports leagues are never leaving New York. Or LA or the cities I mentioned, they want to be there, so don't [01:29:00] get tricked into it. Speaking of the Chiefs, looks like we're gonna talk about them for a moment. 

DAMONZA BYRD: Speaking of stadiums. Yeah. Is it possible that the chiefs end up leaving Arrowhead?

NICK WRIGHT - HOST, WHAT'S WRIGHT: Okay, so listen, Arrowhead Stadium is loud and it's a fine stadium. It's not state of the art, but it's fine. It also is in the, it's in the middle of nowhere. It is 30 minutes from downtown Kansas City. The closest restaurant to Arrowhead or Kaufman is a Taco Bell. The closest hotel is a Drury Inn. Arrowhead's not ideal. It's not an ideal location. The reason the idea of the chiefs leaving is touches a tendon for me is there was a rumor. They might cross state lines into Kansas. The Kansas city chiefs, Our Kansas city, Missouri's team. And there is a big difference between being from Missouri and being from Kansas.

The audience may not care. The Kansas city and we'll get it. If people, if you're from [01:30:00] out, you're like, oh, I'm from Kansas City, and they're like, oh, you're from Kansas? No . I'm from Missouri. And the idea of the chiefs crossing the state line will, I'm not saying I won't be a fan.

This is what I'm going to say. This is what I will say. If the chiefs move to Kansas, my fandom ends when Patrick Mulholland. That's it. I'm just telling you when Patrick Mulholland retires, I'm out. If they move to Kansas.

Former A's Bruce Maxwell calls out Oakland A's owner John Fisher for Vegas move - Edge of Sports - Air Date 5-3-24

DAVE ZIRIN - HOST, EDGE OF SPORTS: I want to talk to you about the Oakland A's, their move to Sacramento, and then their subsequent move that's coming up in 2028 to Las Vegas.

You're the person I wanted to ask this. What, what, what was your impression when you played for the A's of Oakland? as a baseball town. 

BRUCE MAXWELL: It was incredible. The environment. I'm a very, I'm a big history buff when it comes to baseball. Um, my dad's favorite team was the Oakland A's and my dad's from Indiana.

Um, it's just with that team, [01:31:00] it's history. You know, it's, it's one of the oldest organizations in baseball. The players that have come through there, the winning the environment, what they've done for the city of Oakland itself. It's really given the community. a staple in a, in a, in a sports team. And that's something that you cannot allow to leave.

You cannot allow that to, to move to another area because now you're turning Oakland into almost like a wasteland when it comes to sports. I know they, they lost the warriors, the Raiders moved this and the other, but I feel like. The Oakland A's have been more of a pillar of the community than either one of those teams.

So it's upsetting and it's, it's honestly, it's bothersome to see that being allowed to happen. It's like taking the Cubs out of Chicago. 

It's like taking the Dodgers out of LA. Um, it can't happen. It can't happen. [01:32:00] So it's devastating to, to see, uh, their moves and the fact that it's just allowing, they're allowing it to happen, uh, because of greed and because of, uh, the lack of.

Uh, the lack of stature when it comes to the city of Oakland. 

DAVE ZIRIN - HOST, EDGE OF SPORTS: Yeah, what does this say about John Fisher, the owner of the team? He inherited all the money from Gap Clothing. That's where his 3. 3 billion come from. That's his net worth. What does it say about John Fisher that he's so willing to remove the team from Oakland when he clearly has the financial means to keep them there as long as he wants to?

BRUCE MAXWELL: It just says that he's selfish. And it's about as clear as I can be with that, um, it's the fact that the fans in the city of Oakland have seen him gouge our prospects and our players over the years. And then the Oakland A's fans have still been loyal and stayed loyal while watching their very players be all stars and important [01:33:00] players for their teams.

Um, the fact that he has the financial means to move the team, but not the financial means to upgrade the stadium, to upgrade the locker rooms, the field itself, to put more money into the contracts of players, to keep fans coming in wanting to support the Oakland A's. The fans took a stand and, and I would too, in that situation, especially again, for such an historical team, these people in Oakland, man, they grow up and teach their kids the love of the Oakland A's.

Even to this day, you know, it's, it's a, it's a, it's a culture up there. It's not just another team. And I think with John Fisher, he doesn't care at the end of the day. He doesn't care about the workers who've been working there for 40 years. He doesn't care about the kids and the grandparents and the great grandparents that have been coming to Oakland A's games that have had season tickets for 40 [01:34:00] years.

He doesn't care about that. He wants new and shiny things, but he could easily have made those shiny things. In Oakland, he just didn't want to be there and for him to be able to move the team without a batter of an eye. It's disappointing and it's upsetting for the people of Oakland, but also for a lot of us that I can't speak for everybody else, but it saddens me.

I played seven years with those that organization. And the whole time it was history. You have Ricky Henderson, Dave Stewart, Vita blue, all these guys coming into spring training, working with these, working with the kids. So in phase, right? All of that is because of the Oakland ace. It's not because, Oh, they're just big leaguers.

No, they, they spend a good chunk of their careers playing for this team, winning for this team. And it's part of their lives. So to see it be uprooted to a very, a new place for whatever the reason may be. It's, it's, [01:35:00] it's bothering me. 

DAVE ZIRIN - HOST, EDGE OF SPORTS: You know, I'm really glad you mentioned the stadium workers, because as awful as it is to move the team, there have been some articles about how generations of people have worked for that team and Fisher's disregard for them is just another mark against him to me as somebody who cares about the sport.

I mean, clearly he does not. 

BRUCE MAXWELL: He doesn't. And I went back, um, this off season. Um, I was, I was coaching with kids, uh, with a couple of my former teammates in Palo Alto. And when we, when I got there, I went to an A's game within about a week to go see my coaches and things. Uh, cause I, when I was there, the coaches are the same minus Bob Melvin, but they're the same.

And, um, I walked up in the players area and same security guards. They gave me a big old hug. They were like, great to see you. It's been forever. Mind you, I haven't been in the big leagues since 2018 and God, I don't remember their names, but a hundred percent. [01:36:00] They remember me and the people that men, men, the parking lot, the people that, that check you before you go into the locker room, uh, the people on the field, the grounds crew, I spent most of my time talking to all those people because Those are the people that make the difference in our days every day.

And so for him to be able to uproot that team and put all of those people out of a job, just willingly, it's, it's upsetting. And it's cruel at the end of the day, it's cruel. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: You've reached a deeper dive section C: sports journalism. 

Pat McAfee Gets Torn Apart by Famed Sports Writer - TYT Sports - Air Date 10-26-23

PAT MACAFEE: Andrew Marshawn is a rat. 

RICK STROM - HOST, TYT SPORTS: There's no doubt Pat McAfee's tenure with ESPN has been entertaining, yet simultaneously troubling. Famous sports writer Greg Doyle has a bone to pick with the sleeveless ex punter because of instances such as this. 

AARON RODGERS: I'm 48 hours in, and I consulted with a now good friend of mine, Joe Rogan.

I'm thankful for [01:37:00] people like Joe stepping up and using their voice. And this If, if, like we learned, if science is Dr. Fauci, you're damn right I'm defiant. 


AARON RODGERS: Mr. Pfizer said he didn't think he'd be in a vax war with me. Didn't a back floor? Me? This ain't a war homie. This is just conversation. But if you want to have some sort of, uh, dual debate, have me on the podcast, I'm gonna take my man RFK, junior.

Okay. . Okay. As an independent. Hell yeah. Right? And he can have, you know, Tony Fauci or some other crat and we can have a conversation about this. 

RICK STROM - HOST, TYT SPORTS: Okay. And this. Where he ripped Travis Kelsey Doyle, a longtime media member, sees through it and is called out Rogers McAfee and ESPN in his column. 

AARON RODGERS: You know, I think there's some sentiment that there's some sort of moral victory out there that we hung with the, you know, with the Champs and.

And that, uh, you know, our defense played well, and, and, you know, [01:38:00] uh, Pat didn't have a crazy game, and, uh, you know, Mr. Fizer, we kind of shut him down a little bit, he didn't have, you know, his, like, crazy impact game. Obviously, he had, you know, some yards and stuff, but I felt like, for the most part, you know, we played really tough on defense, especially the last three quarters.

RICK STROM - HOST, TYT SPORTS: Because he can't stand seeing this. Here's what he wrote. Every Tuesday, Rogers emerges from his rat hole and looks around smugly, enjoying the smell of his own breath, and says something really, really stupid about vaccines. And because we live in this cult of fame, liking and believing and even electing people only because they're rich or famous, people believe Rogers so he's out there, every Tuesday, saying something that makes us less safe.

It's because As Awful Announcing put it, Rogers went from the thinking man's quarterback to an anti vax buffoon allotted time on McAfee's show to ramble about life saving medications with zero pushback whatsoever even if the information he was offering was at best misguided and at worst harmful, penned Sean Keeley.

[01:39:00] Doyle has worked in the Indianapolis market for decades at this point. Even doing radio shows with a former Colts player named Sean Keeley. Pat McAfee. They have somewhat of a history, one can say. Which makes his article even more of a must read. He'd write McAfee is allowing and enabling Rogers to spew misinformation.

He'd bring up McAfee being found to pay the quarterback more than a million dollars to appear on his show, and third, according to Doyle, McAfee doesn't believe Rogers for a minute. Doyle, it becomes quite evident, lays the blame on at McAfee's feet for all of this. Rogers was a four time MVP with the Packers, but his anti vax gibberish makes him a harmful member of the human race.

McAfee lets it happen, Doyle wrote. Rogers has done McAfee's career a huge service by appearing on his show. Pat was going to take off regardless because he's that good, but Rogers appearance put booster fuel into [01:40:00] the rocket ship. And not just that. Not to be misremembered, this was first taken on by a long time NFL media member.

Pat McAfee is getting a massive pass for allowing Aaron Rodgers to spread disinformation and lies that could lead to people dying. He tweeted, McAfee would reply, You're not picking and choosing what to report from my show in an attempt to mislead people, are you? That'd be a style of misinformation, right?

You were probably saving the world at the time, but how come you didn't cover this with a video of Charles Barkley? 

AARON RODGERS: I've been taking monoclonal antibodies. Ivermectin, zinc, vitamin C and D, HCQ. And I feel pretty incredible. 

PAT MACAFEE: Okay. So you said a lot there. 

RICK STROM - HOST, TYT SPORTS: Doyle then ends his piece with this. Unlike Rogers and people of his ilk, people who think they're the smartest guy in the room.

McAfee is the smartest guy in the room. He also was born with a second serving of empathy. He's a good man with a good heart. Pat McAfee. He understands [01:41:00] vaccines are the only reason the war is over. The only reason the good guys won the biggest and most important questions Doyle poses. In his piece are these.

Why is ESPN allowing this? And why is Pat McAfee a willing accomplice?

Are Athletes a Threat to Sports Journalism? - Karen Hunter Show - Air Date 5-28-24

RODERICK MORROW: Do you find any difference in this, uh, approach that the players have where they're like considering themselves the new media, uh, As compared to, you know, the classic traditional media. Um, are you finding that there's a, a, a real separation or difference between their approach and, and, and the approach that at the networks?

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Oh yeah. Like, like Rob Parker really gets upset about it. Now he has a, uh, journalism, uh, masters from Columbia. Um, he teaches sports writing at USC. So he's really into it and he gets upset because On their podcast, the athletes generally don't push back on one another. So if you're doing a podcast and one [01:42:00] player says, yeah, I think Paul George is better than LeBron.

Now, in a lot of cases, I'm just throwing that out, but in a lot of cases, it might be, Oh, wow. Okay, cool. Whereas the natural pushback is hold up. What are you talking about? You know? And so Rob is constantly complaining about, you don't get the full story. You don't get the pushback. From the athletes. But I say that's true, but what I do like is that you get to see the athletes in their own space and their natural, like as writers, what I was trying to do when I interviewed an athlete, I always was trying to get them to be comfortable.

And to not give cliche quotes and just, okay, I'm speaking to the media. Let me have my guard up. I wanted them to just be their normal selves and then convey that to the audience or the readers. And you get that in the podcast, like with Kevin Garnett's with Paul [01:43:00] Pierce or what, you know, they're just being their natural selves.

They cussing, they talking like they would in the locker room. They're not worried about, you know, coming off a certain way for the media, but that tells you that shows you what they're really like. So I think there's a real value in that. So I like what they're doing. It is a little different from what we do, but.

You know, there's space for all of us. Do you feel that 

RODERICK MORROW: animosity too? Cause like, I feel like the new media thing is also a little bit of animosity towards the old media where it's like, y'all ain't doing it right. We're, we're going to show you how to do it. And I'm, and I'm not gonna lie. I miss a little bit of the conflict because I do like the pushback.

I do think the media has a job to fact check and, uh, and, and to be there in the space to say, Hey, that thing you just said, you need to explain that a little bit more out. So I kind of missed that a little bit. 

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Well, no, that's why I said you could listen to both because they're not journalists. They're in the media space now, but they're not journalists.

They're not doing [01:44:00] investigative reporting. They're not probing. They're just talking, which is cool. There's a space for that, but you still have to go to the real journalist if you want to get some pushback and another side of the story. And something like that. But, um, the, the thing is to athletes, they don't like being criticized, which is normal.

I mean, wait, who likes being criticized? I'm told Rob will jump on. I'm like, don't nobody like being criticized, you know, they used to say. Y'all didn't play in the NBA, you don't know what you talking about, you know, and try to play the the player card on you. But if you notice, they don't like being, uh, criticized by Charles Barkley, right?

Phil O'Neill, Kendrick ver you. They just don't like criticism, period. It is not whether you played or not. And so that's where I think maybe the animosity can come from, but you know what's happening. They're criticizing. [01:45:00] Yes. They're criticizing other players too. Cause what we do, what I do on television and the radio and what they're doing on their podcast, it's like you in the barbershop.

Debating who's better between Michael and LeBron. We're just doing it on national television or radio. And so we have to answer for it. I might see LeBron at a game or see, you know, somebody, and you have to answer for it, whereas when you in the barber shop on your couch, you can spout all this stuff. And never see a player and not have to answer for it.


RODERICK MORROW: I am, I am kind of looking forward to our first podcast fight, you know, like we're like Draymond green seas, Pat Bev. And like, we just, the gloves come off. Like, we think it's a basketball fight, but we find out, Oh no, it's cause of episode seven, you got to go back and 

CHRIS BROUSSARD: listen. Well, that's, that does make it interesting for the guys that still play, that have to.

Podcasts and our [01:46:00] players, current players. Cause you really have to answer for the stuff you say. 

Can You Afford to Watch the NFL This Year? - That's Good Sports - Air Date 5-17-24

BRANDON PERNA - HOST, THAT'S GOOD SPORTS: Welcome to That's Good Sports, I am Brandon Perna, and if you want, you can sign up for That's Good Sports Minus. What's That's Good Sports Minus? It's nothing. You sign up, you give me your money, and then you EAT IT! You shut up, and you give me your money for nothing! That's why it's called Minus! I hope you do have a war chest of extra Funds, if you wanna watch every NFL game this season.

Start cutting costs, okay, for unnecessary things in your life. Baby food, heart medicine, car insurance, to make room for your NFL viewing expenses. The NFL will now have games on YouTube TV. For the Sunday ticket, Amazon Prime, Peacock, ESPN and now two Christmas games on Netflix. I know a lot of people are complaining, but if you remember, What Jesus said, who's birthday is literally on Christmas, What a coincidence.

But he said, [01:47:00] With man, this is impossible, but with God, capitalism will save us all. That is how you get saved. By me, Jesus of Prophets. What, if Harrison Butker can use Jesus to push some weird bullshit narratives, So can I, so can I. That's America. How we will consume NFL and sports games in general is changing.

And the almighty dollar still rules this evolution of screens. Personally, I already have Netflix. I've been paying for that shit since it was DVDs. So I really don't care that games will air on that streaming service. I have all of the damn streaming services, plus cable. I hate that I have to pay for it all, but it's kind of my job, so I justify it.

That said, I want to break down what this means for us viewers, how much it's going to cost us, and if it's a good or bad thing for us in the long run. And the answer might surprise you. No, it won't. 

Let's go back 11 years to the exact moment it all changed. [01:48:00] DirecTV was king with its exclusive rights for NFL Sunday Ticket. If you wanted access to watch every game of your favorite team out of market, DirecTV was the only way to do it. I know, I had it when I lived in Sin City, Los Angeles. Yes, technically it's the City of Angels, but after what I witnessed on Hollywood Boulevard, it will always be Sin City in my heart.

 We watch NFL football on our phones now, right? And we don't even think about how that wasn't a possibility 12 years ago. DirecTV changed that with the Manning Bros.

AD: So now's your chance to have football on your phone and football in your pants.

BRANDON PERNA - HOST, THAT'S GOOD SPORTS: Now I did a video review of that commercial in the early days of this struggling YouTube channel Which predates the NFL YouTube channel, by the way, the NFL didn't create a channel until 2014 So you had to rely on idiots like me to get a chance to see highlights from your team's games. Now highlights are thrown in your face [01:49:00] Face, anytime you open up your phone, they're no longer a treasure worth hiding, but a readily available foundation of life that is simply consumed like breathing air.

Now, I say all that to emphasize that getting access to the NFL on your mobile device was a huge shift in the NFL's approach to making their product more available. Part of me believes that's what they are doing right now by making games available on services like Netflix. You can also argue that it makes its reach more limited because not everyone has Netflix.

If I were you, I'd blame Tom Brady who broke the Netflix football cherry via his roast. Would you like a massage? Which. He has said, as a parent, he now regrets doing because it greatly affected his children. As a fellow father, I agree. And if any of you are out there, and you're in a, a rare, and I mean rare, more rare than winning the lottery type situation where Netflix asks you if they can host a roast in [01:50:00] your honor, that as a parent, you should say no.

Do not, do not do a net, If you're a parent. Unless, of course, you are Harrison Butker, then definitely do it right now. I find it hilarious that one of the most prepared quarterbacks in NFL history didn't do his homework yet. On what a roast is. It's also wild to me that Tom made sure to protect Robert Craft from the massage jokes, but failed to see how his recent divorce and having a teammate that killed himself in prison, who was in prison for murder, might be, uh, the things that the comedians go hard on and ultimately offend and affect his family.

Anyway, why is this shift to streaming services happening? Duh, it's it's money right? It's money. Netflix is reportedly spending close to 150 million per game for the two christmas games and this is actually a three year deal with a couple more games coming in 2025 and 2026. Now last season an average of [01:51:00] 29. 2 million people watched the nfl games on tv. That's why Netflix is willing to pay. In addition to that, Netflix is hoping to see the big subscriber boost like Amazon saw two years ago when it took over Thursday Night Football. I forget the numbers, but they were insane. Johnny, throw them on the screen.

And also what Peacock saw when it had its exclusive playoff game this year. While we all might publicly complain about this on Twitter, it turns out that a bunch of people who signed up for Peacock, uh, just for that game, um, Didn't cancel. Peacock saw 2. 8 million people sign up and subscribe and 71 percent of those news subscribers kept paying for Peacock I don't know if those subscription numbers will translate to Netflix Or how many people stayed signed up after those seven weeks because I was too lazy to look it up.

Netflix has two regular season games that look nice on paper right now, but the must watch aspect of those Christmas games is far less compelling. Plus, I think [01:52:00] in general, Netflix has a much larger piece of the streaming service subscriptions already compared to Peacock, so I don't know if they get the big boost.

But that's what they're banking on. Now, a benefit that doesn't really get mentioned too often in all of this discussion is that Thursday Night Football on Amazon is actually a better viewing experience than it was when the NFL Network hosted all of those games. On Amazon, you have multiple broadcast options plus Prime Vision, and for hardcore fans like me, that shit's cool.

I'm not sure if a platform like Netflix can up the ante with the presentation for just two games a year, and for a company that has, uh, little to no revenue. Live production experience, the Brady Roast was good, went off without a hitch, but according to my wife Jess, their Love is Blind reunion live show was a disaster.

If they fuck up NFL games,

Netflix will look more like Quibi or PlayStation Vue after Chief Steelers and Ravens fans get done with them. They're just starting to enjoy some success again. For Netflix, it's willing [01:53:00] To drop a giant chunk of change on NFL games, because they're proven to work. For them, it's a lot less risky than spending that kind of money on a series that flops.

Tanks. Space forces, if you will. Like the NFL, Netflix was king of streaming for a very long time, but as that market became widely more competitive, they have to make some power moves. Netflix is betting on a massive influx of new subs, but for those two games. And while it's not a playoff game, Christmas is a smart play as that's when we're all in a pretty good mood and we don't have issues spending a little more money.

What's 20 bucks when I just dropped a thousand on my dumb kids who do not entertain me like football and only bring me the same misery my football equally provides? I will gladly give this for entertainment. Here's the loophole the NFL discovered, okay? They have more games than they know what to do with.

Thursday night football survived waves and waves of criticism about player safety [01:54:00] because a stand alone primetime game in the middle of the week blew up. does numbers. The NFL realized it can still satisfy all of its TV agreements because it has 14 to 16 games every single week. Plus, the game on Peacock still had fucking commercials even behind the paywall.

They can handpick one or two of their games on any week and then sell that to Netflix. And not disturb their billion dollar TV deals with Fox, NBC, CBS, and ESPN. I also think the COVID year, where they had to reschedule games, showed the league how much maneuverability they had to move games around, like chess pieces.

Which is why we have games on pretty much everything. Every day of the week at different points this year. Then you had Christmas fall on a Sunday in 2022 and a Monday in 2023 and boom, holy fuck, the NFL destroyed the holiday once formally monopolized by the NBA. 


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: And now deeper dive [01:55:00] section D: sports gambling.

Is the sports betting industry a huge mistake? - Good Work - Air Date 2-9-24

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: In 2013, the American Psychological Association officially classified gambling as an addiction. Meanwhile, since its 2018 legalization, sports betting has generated a gangbusters amount of economic activity in the US $220 billion. In just the first five years it was legal. There are now over 16 million average monthly users of the most popular sports betting apps.

And next year, online sports betting revenue is expected to approach 12 billion dollars. But to understand this growth trajectory, we gotta talk about something called Daily Fantasy Sports. Daily Fantasy is an online version of Fantasy Sports. And according to my wife, a terrible reason to have my phone out during our kid's baptism.

Fantasy is when you pick a bunch of real players, assemble a fake team out of them, and keep trying. But around 2010, a new turbocharged version of fantasy came onto the scene, where you could set new lineups as often as every day, play in apps on your phone, and crucially, put money down on the results. 

KENNETH VOGEL: So you [01:56:00] had two competitors that really arose to the top of the market here, DraftKings and FanDuel.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Kenneth Vogel is a New York Times investigative reporter who was part of a team that wrote a series of major stories about the betting industry's rise in America. 

KENNETH VOGEL: And they made a business out of fantasy sports and allowed players to win. Wager, not wager, but put money on the performance of their teams.

They would push back against the use of the term wager there. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Even though gambling on sports was still broadly illegal, Congress had previously determined that fantasy sports were actually a game of skill, not luck, meaning that putting money on the results wasn't gambling. Which reminds me, a lot of an argument my high school friend Chaz used to make about the pullout method.

The gray area in which these fantasy companies operated was pretty controversial. Even at the time. A lot of state attorney generals and even some sportsbook CEOs publicly said that they considered Daily Fantasy to be gambling. But the industry saw it differently. 

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: So you don't view what you do here at Daily Fantasy?

Uh, FanDuel is [01:57:00] gambling. No. That's a word that isn't used very much around here, I take it. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Still, FanDuel and DraftKings clearly understood that they were operating in murky waters, and made a huge lobbying push to defend themselves. And they were pretty successful. By 2017, 19 states had passed laws explicitly legalizing daily fantasy sports.

But this effort wasn't just about creating a legal framework for daily fantasy. The industry's big kahuna was still out there, swimming around in the deep waters. Just waiting to be caught. I'm talking about full on sports betting. 

ARCHIVE NEWS CLIP: Breaking news to the Supreme Court this morning, striking down the federal ban on sports betting.

Now it leaves it up to the states. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: When that happened, the industry was ready to get lobbying, thanks to their powerful network of relationships in state capitals that they built during their daily fantasy push. 

KENNETH VOGEL: There was a lot of like, whining and dining. That was, that was my colleague, Eric Lipton, and a photographer who went out to, um, This is a party that, uh, was sponsored by the industry or by lobbyists who were representing the industry.

The lawmakers [01:58:00] were smoking cigars and drinking expensive scotch that was provided by the lobbyists and sort of schmoozing with them as the debate was unfolding a few blocks away in the Capitol. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: The industry's main arguments for legal sports betting, both then and now, are to fight black market gambling.

JASON ROBINS: There's this big illegal market, and there's no consumer protections, no tax revenue being generated. Why don't we just bring that in house? 

MATT KING: A lot of states are understanding that it's really just common sense legislation to allow mobile sports betting. Uh, it raises tax revenues and it puts an illegal market out of business.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: And look, I know it's easy to go around bashing these corporate CEOs. Especially when they got this mid as hell Zoom background. What, is this a map of the lands you plan to conquer? Why do you have a Bla black and white photo of the industrial revolution behind ya. Come on, Matt. It could be worse. You've got some work to do, buddy.

But my point, which I'm making very clearly and without getting sidetracked, my point is that the gambling black market is a problem, and regulating it would generate [01:59:00] tax revenue. 

TIMOTHY FONG: One of our biggest concerns, we have so much of the unregulated sports betting market, right? So these are the websites, uh, that are based in who knows where.

They take all electronic betting. You know, financing, so they're, they're not subjected to the regulations of the state. But trying to shut them down is impossible because you don't even know where they exist. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Now, it's impossible to know the exact size of the black market at this time, but some estimates had Americans illegally betting as much as 150 billion per year.

But the industry's second point was that if states did vote to legalize, It would instantly create tax revenue. 

KENNETH VOGEL: One of the things that the industry, sports betting industry had going for it, you know, after 2018 was, uh, you know, it's, um, sort of a perverse way to think about it, but it was the pandemic. I mean, the pandemic put a real dent in state budgets.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: So the black market, the promise of tax revenue, state budgets, absolutely decimated by the pandemic. It was the perfect storm for sports betting companies to capitalize on and capitalize. It was 

OLIVER BARNES: [02:00:00] There's a huge investor appetite around it. The companies are turning over massive amounts of money.

Everyone's very excited. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Oliver Barnes is a reporter for the Financial Times who's been covering the gambling industry both in the U. S. and the U. K. 

OLIVER BARNES: Lawmakers are also quite excited, right? Because you're sitting in a state that's yet to, um, legalize sports betting. You have a whole load of tax revenues you can just switch on there overnight.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: But in reality, many states who have voted to legalize have seen less tax revenue than expected. 

KENNETH VOGEL: The industry, the sports betting companies and the gambling trade groups push for lower tax rates. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: While lobbying for legalization in states like Kansas, the industry argued that the best way for states to maximize their tax revenue would actually be to tax betting companies less because it would create an easier market for the companies to operate in.

Okay, whatever you say, Mr. Businessman. Alright.

But in 14 jurisdictions that legalized and followed the industry's tax advice, revenues in 2022 were nearly 150 million less than predicted. And in [02:01:00] addition to negotiating lower tax rates, the industry also convinced many states to classify huge chunks of their advertising spend as tax write offs. 

KENNETH VOGEL: When we talk about deductions for advertising and marketing, what we're really talking about is the promotional bets.

And so, what that is, is you see an ad and it says, get your first 100 of like, free bets, or like, we'll match your first 100, or what have you, and this is like an incentive that the gambling companies are using to bring in new customers. And what they did was they convinced lawmakers in most states to allow them to deduct the cost of these promotional bets.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: In 2022 alone, the industry gave out almost 1 billion in these promo bets, costing states more than 120 million in potential taxes. States are losing money on promotional bets. I'm losing money on promotional bets. You and I aren't so different after all, Kansas. Maybe this could work out between us. And though tax revenue generated by the industry post legalization has been underwhelming, you might say the opposite [02:02:00] about its approach to marketing.

AD: Spreads to cover, overs to hit, and chances to live bet from the first sound to the final whistle. Download BetMGM. You know what to do.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: The industry spent about 300 million on TV ads in 2023, and an estimated 1. 8 billion in local markets. This marketing push even made it to college campuses. One deal between Michigan State and Caesars Sportsbook let Caesars Caesarize part of its campus. Another between Colorado Boulder and Pointsbet gave the school 30 every time one of their students signed up for the app and placed a bet.

Granted, there was a lot of backlash to these deals. The lead gambling industry trade group now prohibits marketing on college campuses. And since then, Michigan State, Colorado, and other schools have canceled their partnerships. But what's so bad about these ads anyway? Getting caesarized sounds fun! 

RICHARD DAYNARD: It's a public health issue.

Is that this is an addictive product. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Oh, I get it. Too fun. Richard Daynard is the lawyer who designed the litigation strategy against the tobacco industry, resulting in Big Tobaccy [02:03:00] coughing up over 200 billion dollars and changing the way they market cigarettes. We lied and told him we were 60 Minutes and he agreed to tell us about his next target, the sports betting industry.

RICHARD DAYNARD: There's the denial of, you know, of dangers. Presenting this thing as simply a harmless way to have fun. March 10th of last year of 2023. That was the day that sports betting was unleashed in Massachusetts. It was just massive marketing. You know, there'd be trash containers. It'd be on the side of buses, uh, as well as on, uh, you know, television.

Just about anything you turned on would have an ad for, you know, one of the companies. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Unfortunately, it's been a while since I've turned anything on, professor. Daynard's Public Health Advocacy Institute recently backed a lawsuit in Massachusetts against DraftKings, and its focus is on one of those fun tax write off promotional ads.

According to the lawsuit, DraftKings knowingly and unfairly designed a 1, [02:04:00] 000 sign up bonus. The 1, 000 comes in the form of additional bets, which customers could only get if they first deposited 5, 000. Risk 25, 000 within 90 days, and bet on events with worse odds than 3 to 1, which doesn't sound like I'm gonna get 1, 000.

RICHARD DAYNARD: The idea is for you to continue to bet, which is the way you develop and heighten an addiction, which is you keep at it, you keep doing it. We hope to, you know, encourage that. You know, other litigation, this is hardly the only deceptive ad running in the United States. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: And there is some backlash building.

TIMOTHY FONG: We don't see cannabis ads on TV, do we? We don't see a lot of tobacco ads on TV anymore. And all that has an impact on what people think and feel about that product, right? When you look at the gambling ads right now, they're all 120 percent positive. 

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: Regulators in Ohio. Doled out almost a million dollars in fines last year to betting companies for advertising that customers could make free bets.

Massachusetts and other states have moved to legally ban advertising on college campuses. And all the way up [02:05:00] there in Maine, lawmakers proposed banning cartoon characters, celebrities, athletes, and entertainers from being able to appear in ads. Which might sound extreme to us here in America, but is actually very simple.

Similar to the way that lots of other countries regulate gambling advertising. 

OLIVER BARNES: In the UK there's like a whistle to whistle ban on football matches. You can't advertise like during a football match. In terms of like TV commercials. Because of the advertising environment where you're bombarded with ads, it's very difficult to kind of escape that habit of like recurrent gambling.

DAN TOOMEY - HOST, GOOD WORK: The UK has also banned gambling logos on the front of Premier League jerseys and other regulators wanna move even further. In Australia, gambling ads are banned during games between 5:00 AM and eight. And Belgium and the Netherlands have fully banned gambling advertising on TV, radio, newspapers, and in public spaces.

And these regulations are all a reaction to the way that gambling has proliferated in these countries post legalization. The UK Gambling Commission earlier this year said that as many as 2. 5 percent of their adult population could be problem gambling. Meanwhile in Australia, citizens lose more [02:06:00] gambling per capita than in any other country.

And some worry that if this continues If the U. S. isn't careful, we might not learn from these more mature markets. 

The NBA’s Sports Gambling Issue Is Worse Than You Think - Hoop Reports - Air Date 4-27-24

HOST, HOOP REPORTS: On December 19th, 2023, four games were scheduled, setting the stage for an unbelievable turn of events.

I'm not usually one to gamble, and I've never placed an online bet in my life, but let me tell you, this was one of the most incredible sports bets I've ever seen. It was a four leg parlay, meaning four specific outcomes had to align for the bettor to claim the prize money. Here were the conditions.

Brandon Ingram needed to score the first basket in the Grizzlies vs. Pelicans game, Zach Collins in the Spurs vs. Bucs game, Steph Curry in the Celtics vs. Warriors game, and finally Jeremy Grant in the Sun vs. Blazers game. Each of these events was necessary for the bet to succeed. The odds were staggeringly set at 4, 428 to 1.

Translating to a mere 0. 02 percent chance of success. Yet on this day, one daring individual defied these odds, turning a modest bet [02:07:00] of 2 and 50 cents into an astonishing 11, 000 after researching other astonishing online sports gambling wins. Including two unbelievable six leg parlays on three point shots that turn 25 into over 100, 000, I gained insights into the world of online betting, specifically about prop bets and parlay bets.

Now, some of you might already be familiar with these terms, but for those who don't engage in betting, like myself, this was quite enlightening. Essentially, a prop bet is a wager on a specific occurrence within a game, rather than on the game's final result. For instance, instead of betting on the Warriors to win, one might bet on Steph Curry to score 50 points, Draymond Green to get ejected, or Klay Thompson to miss all his three point attempts.

You get the idea. A parlay bet, however, involves combining several of these prop bets. Each event included in the parlay must occur for the bet to pay out. This is precisely what led to Jontay Porter getting caught. He placed a bet that was so [02:08:00] obvious it triggered an alert from gambling sites. Actually, he made two significant errors.

The first mistake involved the prop bet set for him on January 26th, which were five and a half points, four and a half rebounds, which were One and a half assists and 0. 53 pointers made. If you're wondering why these aren't whole numbers, like five points or four rebounds, it's to prevent something known as a push.

A push occurs when the final result of a bet matches the set number exactly, meaning the bet neither wins nor loses and all wagers are returned. Well, just 4 minutes into the game, Jontay had already racked up 3 rebounds and 1 assist. This meant there were just 2 more rebounds or 1 more assist that would cause anyone who bet on him, including himself, to lose the bet.

As a result, he abruptly left the game, citing a re aggravation of an eye injury.

On the following day, during their daily report, DraftKings announced that the under on porter had been the most profitable bet for props that night. Then [02:09:00] on March 20th, in a game against the Sacramento Kings, a similar incident occurred. His over under bets for the night were set at seven and a half points and five and a half rebounds.

And just about three minutes into the game, Porter exited citing an illness and did not return.

This meant anyone who had bet on his unders immediately won the prop bet. While initially Porter's season statistics might make you question the logic of placing those types of bets. The truth is, due to injuries to Scotty Barnes and Chris Boucher, Porter's playing time had surged to about 20 minutes per game.

So, in the 4 games preceding this, he averaged 7 points and roughly 5 rebounds. But, anyway Once again, DraftKings reported that this outcome was the top moneymaker for the night across all NBA bets. What made these cases even more suspicious was the fact that the average NBA player prop bet usually falls between 1, 000 and 2, 000, but the bets placed on Jontay Porter were significantly higher, ranging from 10, 000 to 20, 000.[02:10:00] 

In fact, during the March 20th game, one bettor placed a staggering 80, 000 on a parlay bet. This bet was that if Porter scored 7 points or fewer and grabbed 5 rebounds or fewer, the bettor would win 1. 1 million.

However, the sports betting operators flagged this as suspicious and froze the wager. This action triggered the investigation which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Issuing a permanent ban on Porter. What's somewhat ironic about this situation is that Adam silver himself played a significant role in bringing sports gambling into the mainstream in the United States.

Back in 2014, when he wrote a piece for the New York times advocating for the legalization of sports betting, using the phrase out of the underground and into the sunlight to express his stance. He also emphasized in his writing. Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game. However, the inherent challenge lies in the fact that sports betting, and maintaining the integrity of the game, simply cannot coexist.[02:11:00] 

Over time, human nature's insatiable greed for money will inevitably take a hold and begin to exert its influence over games. This has been evident in numerous scandals throughout sports history. The 1919 Black Sox scandal, where eight players were accused of throwing the World Series for money. The 1980s Boston College basketball point shaving scandal where players manipulated scores for betting gains.

The 2000 Spanish Paralympics basketball scandal involving athletes faking disabilities for medals and sponsorships. The 2000 Hansi Kronje cricket match fixing scandal where a captain accepted bribes to influence match outcomes. The 2007 Tim Donaghy NBA betting scandal where a referee rigged games he officiated.

The 2011 Turkish football match fixing scandal implicating over 30 games. These are just a few examples of the widespread betting scandals that have plagued professional sports globally. They span various sports and nations, but share a common motive, manipulating game outcomes for financial gain. Apart from the [02:12:00] Jontay Porter incident, the true extent of betting related issues in NBA games remains largely unknown until they surface publicly.

However, given the substantial financial stakes involved, there's a valid argument to suggest that such occurrences may be more widespread than commonly perceived, implicating both players and referees. In fact, some retired NBA players assert that there's actually a significant number of referees involved in gambling activities nowadays.

RASHAD MCCANTS: Do you think it's another ref that's in the NBA right now that's like him? A club of them. I think it's a club of them. We clearly see the discrepancies in certain games where the swing for Vegas hits the numbers, right? These are elements that bookies know about, gamblers know about. Hey man, this is a game we need Luka out.

He gets two technicals before halftime. 

HOST, HOOP REPORTS: One counter argument to this notion is that the NBA players and referees already earn substantial salaries. So, why would they risk their careers for additional money? [02:13:00] However, as highlighted earlier, the potential financial gains from betting can far exceed their regular earnings.

For instance, the individual who placed the 80, 000 parlay bet on Jontay Porter stood to make over 1, 000, 000, more than double Porter's salary. However, in the case of Tim Donaghy, despite having a successful career with a comfortable salary of 300, 000 per year as an NBA referee, he still succumbed to the temptation of making extra money through illicit means.

These days, when you think about prop betting and parlay bets, you realize there's a ton of ways to cheat the system. Like even though I've never placed an online bet and likely won't just spending a few minutes brainstorming gave me some ideas on how referees can manipulate outcomes without getting caught.

For instance, imagine placing a parlay bet on a player getting exactly 5 fouls, but his team still winning by 10 points. As a referee, or a team of referees, orchestrating such an outcome might not be too difficult without anyone noticing, but the [02:14:00] potential payout could be huge. And that was a quick example I came up with in 5 minutes, without any professional refereeing or betting experience.

Just think about what experienced individuals could do in this scenario. That example should give you a quick glimpse into the extent of betting that occurs in sports. To be fair, the NBA claims to closely monitor all activities, and even has an internal team consisting of lawyers and full time data scientists dedicated to investigating any irregular bets or line movement.

However, the reality is that Pandora's box of sports gambling has already been opened, and the methods of gamblers will only become more sophisticated over time. Consider this, if the NBA couldn't effectively stop James Harden from exploiting the rules to draw fouls for a significant portion of the 2010s, how can they hope to regulate an industry where transactions amount to 50 to 80 billion dollars every year?


JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: That's going to be it for today. As always, keep the comments coming in. I would love to hear your thoughts or questions about today's topic or anything else. You can leave a voicemail or send us a text at [02:15:00] 202-999-3991, or simply email me to [email protected]. 

The deep dive sections of the show included clips from The Rich Eisen Show, University of Iowa, The Daily Show, What's Wright? With Nick Wright, Edge of Sports, TYT Sports, the Karen Hunter Show, That's Good Sports, Good Work, and Hoop Reports. Further details are in the show notes. 

Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to our Transcriptionist Quartet, Ken, Brian, Ben, and Andrew, for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work behind the scenes and her bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who already support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships. You can join them by signing up today at bestoftheleft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get [02:16:00] instant access to our incredibly good and often funny weekly bonus episodes, in addition to there being no ads and chapter markers in all of our regular episodes, all through your regular podcast player. You'll find that link in the show notes, along with a link to join our Discord community, where you can also continue the discussion. 

So, coming to from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show, from bestoftheleft.com.

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