Why Gambling on Sports Is Worse Than Juicing

My Whiskerino tweeps on Twitter were arguing yesterday about whether it’s worse to gamble on sports [the Pete Rose offense] or to take performance-enhancing drugs [the Barry Bonds offense]. I meant to blog this last night, but I felt like dogmeat and am just now getting to it on my lunch break.

My argument for this is simple: gambling is an order of magnitude a worse sin. Sport is based around a single premise: everyone is trying to win. Gambling leaves open the possibility that someone is not trying to win. PEDs usage is simply trying to perform above what the body can do on its own—effectively, trying harder.

Let’s address the legal issue quickly: betting on sports is illegal in most locales, and taking most PEDs is a violation of Federal drug statutes. Sure, you can bet legally in Nevada, and you can get a prescription, but routinely those are both skirting the issue of what’s really going on. Both can be seen as legal or illegal acts, so I drive back to the moral underpinning.

Gambling doesn’t have to be throwing a game; it can be wanting to win any particular game more than anything else. Is that wrong? Yes, in some cases it certainly is. Baseball is an easy example: if you have money on the game as the manager, you’re going to run through the bullpen and the bench trying to win that one game, where normally you might see a 10-2 deficit in the third and just announce, “Hey, if anyone wants to pitch in the seventh, here’s your chance.” Baseball management is about maximizing the number of wins during the regular season, which does not necessarily maximize the chance of winning any single game. [Postseason management is all about winning single games, of course. You do stuff in the postseason that you’d never do in July.]

Also, gambling puts the element that someone might not be trying their hardest to win the game, because they have an incentive to lose it. That is far more injurious to the ideals of sport, to me, than someone roiding up to muscle the ball over the fence or taking greenies to stay alert during game eight of a twelve-games-in-twelve-days stretch.

YMMV, but this is the crux of my argument. Please sound off in the comments if you are so compelled. I must now go back to writing a proposal for work …

4 thoughts on “Why Gambling on Sports Is Worse Than Juicing”

  1. What would happen if we found out Ted Williams had bet on baseball? Would he kicked out of the HOF? I say no, no he wouldn’t . I believe this is (and always will be with MLB) about the personality of the player, not the numbers the player produced. The problem is that there is no standard definition what makes or takes away from the “integrity” of the game. What does that mean, to what application and effect? Does A-Rod upload the integrity of the game by screaming at players when they try to catch a swallow infield popup, or by slapping the ball out of a pitchers glove? But does he deserve to be in the HOF; absolutely, he’s still a great player, even though he’s a pansy.

    I think baseball punishes players who were pricks, regardless of their on field performance (where I argue let in gamblers and steroid HGH users, if they have great numbers, then they have great numbers).

  2. If Teddy was found out, he’d be retroactively tossed, yes.

    If pricks didn’t get into the Hall, Ty Cobb wouldn’t be in there.

    As for HoF: I’d allow in all the PEDs users but would ban anyone who bet on the game, including Rose.

  3. I don’t really know where I come down on any of this with regard to The Integrity of Sport, mainly because I’m not even entirely certain what that phrase even means. However, I think PEDs are a more pernicious threat that needs a greater & more forceful response than gambling. It boils down to the fact that if some players use PEDs and get away with it, and as a result their performance is, well, enhanced, then there is almost irresistible pressure on every other player to use dangerous PEDs too. So winking at a few athletes taking PEDs is pretty much the same thing as expecting every one of them to take on the huge risk of taking illegal drugs.

    Like I said, I’m not exactly certain what The Integrity of Sport means, but it seems to me that part of what it must entail is the belief of fans watching the sport that we are watching our fellow human beings engage in impressive physical feats. If they’re all taking wild drugs to boost their performances, then they are only kinda fellow human beings. They’re practically cybernetic machines that just look like human beings. And I know that I am much much less interested in watching an event and being impressed at how high someone can jump or how fast he or she can run if I know that they are just able to do it because they’ve been pumped full of a bunch of synthetic substances that makes them both less than and more than human.

  4. Meanwhile if someone gambles, and I find out about it, then it certainly does detract from my appreciation of that event. But I really don’t see that the rest of MLB is gonna look at Pete Rose, for example, and think, “Oh shit, I better get some bets placed on my next game or I’m gonna lose the edge in my sport.” Even if he gets into the HoF now.

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