Forward Joonas Kemppainen leaves the Finnish Elite League for the Boston Bruins, another example of why commercial interests, not gambling, is ruining sport
There is a far too widely held misconception that gambling ruins sport. It floats around like an unflushable bowel movement, bobbing up and down in the media’s attention and generally cluttering up the sensible discussion of the subject. It is held by fervent people with fervent opinions and is unfortunately cited far too much in the legislative process that governs gambling in far too many countries around the world.
Try to talk about Tongan, American or even Finnish gambling laws and, depending upon whom you’re talking to, you’ll get moribund and dated morality arguments, mutterings about the “spirit of the game” and in extreme cases be told any one who has even thought about gambling on sports of any sort anywhere at any time will be spending the rest of eternity ablaze in the fiery nightmare of Satan’s domain (which sounds like a porn site if you ask me) for their sins.
Bruins Sign Kemppainen
• Player lured by big contract
• Indicative of sporting issues?
• Corruption, scandals and money
This is a misconception not because it is entirely wrong, but because it identifies symptoms of a problem and then places the entire blame for the issue squarely on the shoulders of but one tiny fraction of the many factors that have gone into creating a sporting landscape today that is so heavily weighted in certain areas there’s a possibility they’ll form black holes. Whilst gambling must take its fair share of the blame, it can’t be scapegoated.
The confusion arises in the minds of these muddleheaded morons because the major tainting force in sport today is money, and gambling typically involves quite a lot of it, however it is by no means as much as commercialization of the sports themselves has brought to the party. Naturally the world of gambling, with it’s connotations of glitz and glamor, features more heavily in the media than does the dry and dull world of business, but it is business interests that have done the damage, not gambling.
Scandals Aren’t All About Gambling
Certainly gambling has done itself no favors, the number of scandals involving match fixing, points shaving, and at times plain outright cheating, significant with the bigger historical scandals still tainting the sports they touched upon. The college ball points-shaving of the early fifties, the white sox of the roaring twenties, or the infamous Tim Donaghy all still leave a bad taste in the mouth, but these are not the only scandals in sport, and indeed aren’t even in the majority.
Lance Armstrong wasn’t betting on himself when he jacked himself up to win the Tour de France he just didn’t care how he won races, the FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland weren’t running a gambling ring, the kickbacks paid to ISL were for marketing contracts not wagering debts, these were just greedy men using the popularity of sport as a tool to get richer. The massive amounts of money that are now involved in sports is the root of the problems in sport, not gambling.
Of course gambling news headlines tend towards the negative and sensational which the media love to cover in great detail, and business and financial scandals are complex, rather dry and involve mathematics which news editors avoid like the plague so the tendency is that it is perceived that the former far more prevalent than the latter. The media coverage tilts the table in popular perception, and gambling is thus unfairly maligned for far more than the like of online sport betting Malaysia could ever be held responsible for.
One need not delve into scandal or corruption to see the negative impact of money on sports, sponsorship, rights management and the massive pay packets some stars can demand has all had a far worse effect on sports than people betting on who’ll win or not at ComeOn! Sportsbook and the like. Norway’s domination of Nordic skiing is due to sponsorship deals and money buying training facilities, not people betting who’ll face plant in the ski jumping.
Riches Tilt The Tables
The teams of the English premier league will get a share of the massive 5.1bn GBP deal over TV broadcast rights just arrived at, and the overseas broadcast rights are still to be decided upon, that’s a massive amount of money that sets those teams head and shoulders above anyone else in terms of purchasing power. They will have the pick of the players, and their gain are other teams losses. It’s not just football in which the money lures players to these black holes of wealth and opulence
US basketball has attracted players from around the world, and as a result the popularity of the NBA far outstrips the popularity of the domestic game in many countries, which has a knock-on effect in sponsorship, thus in training and is detrimental to the development of the game in those nations. The NHL has long pillaged the Scandinavian nations leagues of their best hockey players, with Finnish forward Joonas Kemppainen just the latest.
His move to the Boston Bruins is just one example of how massive commercial interests have a direct impact on how sports operate world wide, and whilst some teams have done exceptionally well out of this market-driven profit-motive sporting world, there are many that have not, and some local sports have been irreparably damaged in terms of their ability to compete. Those that like to bet on sports in Finland might bet on the Bruins more frequently now, but the 700,000 USD cap hit is probably the more negative factor overall.
If gambling occasionally creates scandal in sport or negatively impacts upon it, the centralization of funding, the corruption and bribery that dwells in the corporate lands of profits and no loss, and the angling of the table against emerging sports or those of a more niche nature, by letting all the players or facilities or sponsors to flow just one way, has had a far, far more detrimental effect on sports as a whole, and for as long as gambling is allowed to be seen as an apt scapegoat for the problems in sport there will be a continual slide into an unimaginable dystopian sporting future.