The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

I’ve written up a few thoughts for the Washington Posts’s Post Everything on why Las Vegas is suddenly acceptable to the NFL:

The gambling industry here and football have been seeing each other secretly since the 1960s. But Monday’s 31-to-1 vote by league owners to permit the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas with (for now) no stipulations about sports betting is a sign that the league’s and city’s status has changed from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”

Read more: The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post

Looking at the history of the NFL, Las Vegas, and gambling is fascinating. The league is steadfastly opposed to legal sports betting despite the fact that many fans bet on the game and it clearly drives a lot of interest. I went back to the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling (1975) to get some context. Pete Rozelle testified extensively then, and laid it out very well.

What I found intriguing is that he said he wasn’t that afraid of legal betting causing actual corruption in the game, but that it might cause fans to think that there was corruption. If they were able to place bets legally, he said, they’d demand Congress investigate every time they lost a bet. Rozelle’s opposition to legal sports betting was rooted in a deep mistrust of his own fans, who he thought would see a conspiracy behind every botched play or blown call.

Because Las Vegas was the country’s sports betting nerve center, Las Vegas was forbidden–although he mentioned that they did monitor Vegas betting lines when looking for irregularities.

So what’s changed? Well, you can read what I think here.

Football’s local impact in Vegas Seven, and an award

It’s Green Felt Journal time again. This week, I talk about the impact of football on Las Vegas in Vegas Seven:

Even though Las Vegas doesn’t have an NFL team, football is a popular pastime in the city, and one that has a huge economic impact on the area.Yes, there are the Locomotives of the United Football League and the UNLV Rebels, but football’s real impact here isn’t felt on the field or in the stands—it’s in the sports books and bars of the Valley.

via Even with no NFL team, Vegas scores big during football season | Vegas Seven.

I decided to write this after I did a little poking around to check on some of the claims of “economic impact of a new arena” proponents. Even without a team, it’s clear that football generates a lot of economic activity in the area.

This is also as good a time as any to announce that I’m now officially an award-winning columnist. The Nevada Press Association has honored me with second place in the “Best Local Non-staff Column” category. Here’s the description:

2. David G. Schwartz, Vegas Seven
“Schwartz’s column is everything you’d expect a column on the gaming industry not to be — accessible, well-sourced, pertinent and insightful. ‘Real baccarat players like their privacy.’”

I still can’t figure out whether that’s a back-handed complement or not, but I’ll take it.

Congratulations also to Vegas Seven stablemate Michael Green, who beat me out for the top spot in the category.

And fellow gaming writer David McKee took home not one, but two awards for his work for another Las Vegas weekly paper.

You can read about all of the award-winners here.

’72 Dolphins & history

There’s a popular story that every year, when the NFL’s final sole remaining undefeated team goes home a loser, the surviving members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins pop champagne corks and celebrate the fact that their perfect season will remain the only one in NFL history.

The story might not, strictly speaking, be true. But it does make me think about an important point: do the achievements of the present come at the expense of the past?

Today, the big news is that Miami legend Don Shula has suggested that, even if they do run the table and finish 19-0, the New England Patriots should be asterisked. From MSNBC:

Coaching legend Don Shula, who guided the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins to the only unbeaten record in NFL history, saiys an asterisk must accompany the New England Patriots if they go 19-0 this season because of the Bill Belichick spying scandal, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

“The Spygate thing has diminished what theyve accomplished. You would hate to have that attached to your accomplishments. Theyve got it,” Shula told the Daily News. “Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,00 and they lost a first-round draft choice. That tells you the seriousness or significance of what they found.

19-0 Pats would need asterisk, Shula says – NFL – MSNBC.com

To me, the idea of the ’72 team toasting the demise of winning seasons always seemed kind of ghoulish. Well, maybe vampiric is a more apt word. It’s the whole idea that the accomplishments of today come at the expense of yesterday, that history is a zero-sum game.

That just seems a suffocating attitude. The past becomes a burden, a set of requirements and prohibitions, instead of lessons for the future.

The right way to handle this thing is how Hank Aaron did: graciously. Even though Barry Bonds’ surpassing his home run record has hardly been free of controversy, no one can say that Aaron hasn’t been a complete gentleman throughout. He knows that his place in history is secure, and doesn’t need to rely on future mediocrity to ensure it.