Did the NBA come down hard enough on fan behavior?
I don’t think so. I think they need to be a bit stiffer, a bit tougher because I think that there is cause for concern. A dear friend of mine who’s an executive in the NBA, the very, very well-connected, has been a part of the NBA for the last 30 years or so, brought something to my attention that I had never thought about before. To be quite honest with you, I never put the pieces together. And I was really, really interested in coming on the show and sharing it with both of you talked about the elements that exist that should heighten our level of awareness and concern as it pertains to the modern-day athlete.
And there are two things going on that can’t be ignored to a lesser degree would be the first one. Gambling, if you recall, a little more than 18 months ago, so that landmark decision by the SEC, by the Supreme Court, basically lifting federal bans on sports betting and in particular states, you know, you could have gambled on sports outside really the state of Nevada. You just weren’t something that you were allowed to do. And the federal courts, you know, the Supreme Court actually struck down a federal ban on sports gambling that prohibited betting on sports in most states.
And since that, they left it up to the states. Well, what has happened? Not all states, states as Connecticut and California, have legalized gambling on sports or whatever, but legislation has been proposed. And some of those states, according to what I’ve read. But New York allows it. New Jersey allows it. Maryland allows it. Michigan allows it. Pennsylvania allows it. Delaware allows it. Illinois and Indiana allow it, stuff like that.
And so when you consider the fact that you can go into an arena like Philadelphia, somebody told me and they said they wanted to get Wi-Fi and just to get Wi-Fi, you had to get like a Bally’s sports app or something like that on your phone just to be able to get the app. Well, what that does is it makes gambling easier and more accessible to the customer out there. So you go to a game instead of a casino and, you know, you just bet a few hundred, a few thousand dollars or somebody or whatever, and they you see them mess it up in a game.
Who knows how that could cause you to react. That’s one element. Here’s the bigger element that we’ve also ignored. Particularly since the passing of joy, since George Floyd’s murder, OK, this is Derek Joven was convicted of murder. We all know that George Foy was murdered. Think about the social unrest that took place over the last year and think about how all of these athletes, particularly with NBA, WNBA, NFL athletes, at the forefront. We’ve all spoken about the fact everybody has an embrace, that matter of fact, millions upon millions of people have been against that.
They think that athletes should shut up and play. They think they should stay in their place. They believe that politics should have absolutely nothing to do with the world of sports. We want to be entertained and we want to go home. We know all of this. This is the first time because of covid that the fans have had an opportunity to be in front of these individuals. Molly, you made a point of pointing out yesterday how it seems to happen to the black athlete.
Is not the white athlete getting spit on, is getting popcorn was thrown at them, or anything like that? Is the black athlete that is suffering from this? Well, it was the black athlete that was standing up. And protesting for a righteous cause on behalf of us as a society and particularly their community, there’s a whole bunch of people that didn’t like that but wasn’t close enough to them to react. Now there are and that could be a reason why we’re seeing some of the things that I think I want to hear your response to that.
I think those are two very interesting points. First, I’ll say, I think the league, although I’d like to know when the Knicks released a statement saying the appropriate authorities named the authorities. Do you mean the league? Do you mean the law? Because I would assume the law. OK, me too. But like I’d like to know explicitly, it didn’t escape my attention either, that this fan who spat on someone got the same punishment that Charles Oakley got for living, apparently, like thrown out and arrested.
But at any rate. I’ll say this when you ban a fan, and definitely, I think you’ve done your part, now it’s up to the legal authorities. Right. And Trae Young said he didn’t want to press charges. That’s a Mentone thing to do. Hopefully, the guys learned his lesson. Maybe Westbrook will want to press charges. But that, to me, Stephen, is a legal issue separate and apart from the league. As I said yesterday, when you buy a ticket and enter the arena, you have not exited civilization.
You are still in Seattle, you’re still in the United States of America. It’s not some special embassy that doesn’t count as part of America, of some foreign embassy where the rules are somehow different. You’re subject to the United States law, to the laws of the state in which that are read. So, like, all that stuff should be obvious. Right. And if someone wants to press charges, good for them. Behave yourselves like people, please.
Fans, right. Like you’re not animals, your people, and treat players as people also. OK, that’s one that I want to address your point, Stephen. I want to engage with that point. It’s more interesting to me, I think that against the backdrop of what this country has experienced in recent years. You know, sport is a great diversion, and I think the greatest consumer product is entertainment because the stakes feel real, but in fact, they’re trivial.
The stakes are actually trivial if your favorite team wins or loses. Right. This is not two thousand years ago or city-states are going to war, Washington versus Philadelphia, they’re actually worth the team that sports represent, that sort of thing. My city is better than your city. But the stakes are actually trivial, but Stephen A., when you count in things like the protests and civil unrest along racial justice line injustice lines, when you factor in gambling when people actually have money on the line, now the stakes feel.
You know why? Because they are reeler and suddenly sports go from, wow, this is an amazing almost drug that that a that gives you the feeling of real-world stuff. But in fact, it’s OK in the end, it’s not going to change your life to actually this might be life-changing. I have money on the line here. Actually, this you know, that athlete represents a larger political struggle that is actually real to me and his winning and that team’s winning means more power to the other side.
I think those are things worth considering. I’m glad you brought it up.