Placing a Bet on Teamwork

If you follow sports, you know the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday struck down the federal law that prohibited gambling on professional sports everywhere but Vegas. The news pushes back my launch of an 8-part series about teamwork applied to everyday issues. But pro sports never disappoints in delivering drama, so the 8-part series can wait.

Instead, I have to say I’m torn about yesterday’s news. I’m all for the commerce this will generate. And if it means state governments get a cut, so they’ll want less from me, even better.

I’m not worried about the integrity of the games. Vegas odds makers are capable cyber-police and can spot funny business from a mile away. Fears of an increased risk that games will be thrown are exaggerated, in my opinion.

My concern is that this move leads us deeper into the grip of winning and defeat. Betting on golf, tennis and other individual sports isn’t a big deal. But gambling on team sports, especially football, concerns this born fanatic. Focused on the result because of our pocket book obscures the all-important process of teamwork that determines that result. Winning is the effect; teamwork is the cause. Will gambling on the outcome take us one more step toward forgetting that?

Can we foster both the value of teamwork and an open market for gambling on the games? That’s up to the most powerful constituency. The fans.

Michael McCormack, Author of Born Fanatic: My Life in the Grip of the NFL