Gambling has been a problem in professional sports forever. Look as far back as the sport of boxing or how about baseball, remember the infamous Black Sox scandal of a hundred years ago or even the case of Pete Rose betting on games.
Gambling is such a concern that the NBA discusses gambling at rookie orientation, even to the point of bringing in former mobsters to speak to the rooks.
Rookie orientation, officially called NBA Rookie Transition Program, is a required six day course administered by the Player Development Departments from the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association.
Topics covered at the seminar include Professional and Life Skills, Player Development, Personal Development and Education, Media and Community Relations, Legal Education - including gambling and Special Sessions.
With all that said it seems peculiar that the NBA holds its summer (developmental) season, that includes rookies and hopefulls, in the bet-free environment of LAS VEGAS!
Makes you want to say hmmm.
Now comes the matter of the FBI having to investigate Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee, for betting on games, including ones that he officiated.
According to the Associated Press, authorities (namely the FBI) are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered thousands of dollars over the past two seasons.
Here’s the big time problem. IF an NBA referee or set of referees is found guilty of point-shaving or keeping scores from reaching what they normally would have or IF there is any evidence of pampering with the scores and/or outcome of NBA games then the whole system becomes tainted.
Not just the referee or crew that is guilty but all crews and referees presently in the sytem become immediately suspect, all seventy-somthing of them.
There is a hue and cry for the NBA to clean house, just fire everyone on the the role - axe them all.While that would definitely help the immediate situation, in the long run it is not feasible.
There is in effect a collective bargaining agreement between the National Basketball Referee Association that states that a certain percentage of the top refs have job security and cannot be fired as long as they perform in the top percentage of their peers.
Which translates that the NBA cannot fire everyone without facing humongous law suits.
Another problem is that at present the refs are graded on every play, every call in every game. Right now, these experienced referees miss about five percent of the calls, 95 percent correct is not too bad. But, can you imagine the mistakes if every single ref next season was a rookie.
This investigation and what it exposes could bring the NBA to its knees.
And rightly so. If Donaghy or anyone else is fixing games then maybe banning them from the NBA is not enough. Jail time is needed for sure.
Now lets see, Donaghy and Vick as cell mates. Nah, won’t happen.
How about we take any convicted crooked refs and throw them into the bulldog pit along with the any convicted dog trainer/owners and let the dogs have at ‘em.
Jim is the assistant sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.