By BRADLEY

Special to woodypaige.com
Here’s what I think:
It’s about time Lost Wages (Las Vegas) got a professional sports team. Or two because it finally brings this bogus issue of gambling and sports to a head.
OK, so this is the 597th of some million plus articles you’ll see about  gambling and sports. Many will deride gambling as evil (certainly more evil than marijuana. Yeah. Right) and how some athletes are going to end up going bad, and how others are going to be tempted to go bad, and how it destroys lives and the world as we know it, and it’s all going to bring about dogs and cats living together, in sin, and—-
Sorry.
Just got on a roll. Bet it’s happened to you, too. No shame here.
 
Where was I? Oh yeah. Seriously, what is so bad about gambling? And for the love of everything holy, DO NOT TELL ME that gambling is destroying the integrity of the game. The ‘integrity of the game’ is an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp, occasional furniture or broadcasting ethics. That was gone LOOOOONG before my mom sent me packing from the warmth of her womb out into cold, cruel reality.
At least 75% of the people at Madison Square Garden for ANY Knicks game from 1961 on, gamble. Basketball is a Disneyland for point spreads and prop bets and the money flew fast and furious everywhere from the overpriced red box seats up to the rarefied air of the  working class blues where I used to sit.
My Uncle gambled his whole life (at one time, he had five separate bookies in two boroughs) and died with $400,000 in small bills hidden around his apartment.
He had this thing about not trusting banks.
My dad gambled before I was born and used his winnings to fly to Bermuda once a month. Thus,  I see no hypocrisy in gambling being part of the landscape.
So there’s many who would say, “”‘OK, fine, you dad and Uncle knew what they were doing. What about the ones who don’t?” As the man in the carnival barks out every night:
‘Ya pays ya money, ya takes your chances.’
What makes anyone think the stock market is a better idea? You could (and many do) lose there, too, yet no one is racing out to make it illegal to buy stock, are they? And what about life insurance? The ULTIMATE game of chance.
Plus, if you seriously think there aren’t still games being fixed, despite the amount of money the players and officials make, then you’ve been smoking way too much of the green stuff that just got legalized in Colorado and other places.
Gambling exists. Keeping teams out of Lost Wages is like lancing a pimple to fix a broken leg.
So let me just go on record as saying, I do not believe that a player gambling on a game, even his own, destroys anything.
Very rarely can one player egregiously change the  result of a game. Basketball probably has the largest possibility. Pitchers in baseball? Sure. But it’s going to take a Herculean effort on someone’s behalf to make a deal, and be at the right place, at the right time, to affect the game to his favor. Ask the kids from Boston College, recently featured on ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. Even with two or three of you in on the deal, it ain’t easy. And of course, they got busted.
Eventually, everyone does.
Making side money is as American as apple pie. I mean, how is gambling different from cutting a shoe deal where you get a piece of  the gross sales, or getting paid for conning people into believing you drive that hot new car, while you never even sat behind the wheel and probably gave to your brother because you want to drive something else?
Gambling changes nothing– because it’s always been there. In fact, I’m willing to bet (sorry, sorry), if you watch sports even a medium amount, you’ve seen certain games fixed and didn’t even know it.
So forget about gambling and the ‘ill effects’. None of the four major sports has any integrity left. Sports is a business, just like building automobiles, serving hamburgers—or gambling. If they’re smart, the powers that be will learn how to corral it, so they promote and grow their businesses to even greater heights.
The NFL  already is on board with its own fantasy leagues for people to play.  And the more involved the fan base, the greater the depth of financial commitment. (Can you say jerseys, foam fingers, etc)?
Gambling will destroy nothing, except the lives of people stupid enough to gamble beyond their means. But think about this. When robots become the norm in football (because the game is being sued into exhaustion for the violence and concussion aspects), will you still want to gamble and play fantasy? Robots, not gambling, might be the downfall of professional sports. And don’t think it’s not coming—because it is.
I wonder what odds my Uncle would lay on that.
     -30-

Bradley is his pen name — like O. Henry, Dr. Seuss and Mark Twain. And he is the Masked Columnist. He actually has a real name and a real job, and would rather keep them separate from his new column for woodypaige.com. He actually has been professional writer involved in sports media for many years, and is a successful businessman, and is a published fiction author, and is a long-time sports fan, and is a man of many opinions, which he doesn’t want to keep to himself.  Bradley is based in parts unknown.