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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of Vice and Men

The Philadelphia Daily News has an article in today's paper (with photos) of tryouts for the Philadelphia entry in the fledgling Lingerie Football League. Columnist Sam Donnellon tries his best to keep a straight face, especially when writing about the talent.

Today, Delaware became the fourth state to legalize sports betting. Hopefully, that Delaware was the first state to sign the Constitution (and that's how the state touts itself) far outweighs that it's the fourth state in the sports betting game.


Well, people dissed the Ultimate Fighting Championships, which have taken root (resembling human cockfighting), and tolerated Arena Football (not real football, but fun for the whole family at an affordable price). The former seems to thrive, while the latter is in the ICU and on life support. Who knows whether the LFL, as they're calling it, will promote responses other than derisive LOLs? Most certainly, the LFL will try to take merchandising to a whole new level. Look, the Constitution has the first amendment, the LFL benefits from freedom of expression (unless, of course, there are wardrobe malfunctions), and people will make their own choices as to whether they'll attend. Personally, I think the league sends a bad message about women, but this sort of stuff does sell (and I'm giving it publicity and, as a result, more attention).

As for Delaware, well, on the one hand the state fathers and mothers must believe that why shouldn't they get a piece of the pie and let Nevada and the two states that went before it have all the fun. On the other hand, what type of message are we sending? That this type of behavior should be encouraged? Or, are we resigning ourselves to the fact that this stuff goes on all the time and why shouldn't the state take a cut? Somehow, I don't think that societies and governments can solve all their problems by legalizing this stuff, but there you have it.

Is there outrage at this? Surprise? We're all agog about the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs, but should we be concerned with these trends? Also, I'm interested in learning whether the pro sports leagues will figure out a way to get a piece of the pie. I think a creative intellectual property litigator might argue successfully that absent the intellectual property of the team -- which the sports books exploit to make their money -- the sports books wouldn't have a product. So, perhaps the NFL will try to shut down the sports books or, alternatively, get their beaks wet.

The proliferation of sports betting will cause leagues to look at their procedures for hiring and assigning officials, as well as compensating them. All leagues will have to figure out a way to have their officials as bribery-proof, and the NFL -- for all the money it involves -- might want to make its officials full-time officials. As legal sports betting proliferates, the hunt for inside information and the temptation to bribe officials will increase.

As for the proliferation of sports lingerie, well, we're already there, if you look at the cheerleaders or dancers that pro sports teams deploy. All the LFL is going is having the dancer/cheerleader type compete wearing what they would otherwise wear in a non-contact occupation for the men's team. The real question is whether the LFL will play its games on turf or on grass fields that are susceptible to becoming muddy. The leaders of the league are selling a product, and, no doubt, they'll try various tactics to pack the house, sells ads and sell merchandise. Who knows, perhaps we'll be in store for "EA Lingerie Football" -- it might become a better seller than the game itself.

An interesting day for the sports world, to say the least.


Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

You asked for thoughts:

1. If the Delaware law only permits parlay betting on sports events - as was proposed intitally in the debate - this will not be a big deal.

2. Expect the NFL and the NCAA to mount up their "anti-gambling" PR spiels and have them prominently on display here.

3. How long until the folks in Delaware realize that they can increase their "take" on this deal by letting people wager via the Internet? Will the DoJ indict and prosecute the State of Delaware if that happens?

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