Thursday, August 16, 2007

screaming infidelities.

Michael Wilbon was on the Dan Patrick ESPN Radio show good-bye tour today (just one day left, we swear!) and they were discussing the Donaghy situation.

Wilbon was asked if he believed that Donaghy’s betting was worse than Pete Rose’s gambling, and he said no. According to Wilbon, Rose’s betting was much worse because “he was the manager.”

He didn’t really elaborate, and I don’t really understand why.

There’s no way that Rose’s gambling was worse than Donaghy’s. Basketball is perhaps the most subjective of all sports in terms of referring—fouls are relative according to the referees, as is traveling and carrying.

Referees are supposed to be objective…free of bias. It isn’t in the contract of a coach to be either of these things. In fact, it is up to him/her to put the best team on the field/court/pitch/whatever. If he puts the team out there that he believes is best and that team loses more often than it wins, he will most likely be fired. His job is entirely subjective. Sure, it’s wrong that he bets against his team, but he’ll be fired for losing.

A referee will never be fired for losing, because he never does. He always wins when there is an honest game. Donaghy didn’t make it obvious that he was tainting games, even though he called more technical fouls than any other referee.

Players have complained for the longest time about the bias of referees. Their complaints are now true. How can they trust the game if the playing field is incredibly slanted? Why should they play? Why should we watch, knowing that the game may be tilted in one direction solely for the benefit of the referee’s pocketbook.

A coach’s gambling indiscretion may cause his team to lose and may make the fans angry—he will be fired, regardless of the sport. A bought off referee would be as hard to spot as a gambling coach, but as an athlete, it would hurt less to find out that my coach was throwing the game than if the referee was.

Having a ref cheat means that one side never has a chance—and the thing is, no one will really look that closely because it’s his job to call the games and decide on a victor.

There’s no way that the coach of one team gambling is worse than the omnipotent referee choosing a winner before a game and winning based on who he allowed to win.