The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gambling vs. Steroids

I got into a recent "discussion" with a friend over a hot topic of the day: whether or not steroids are worse than gambling. I have continually argued that gambling is worse because it ruins the integrity of the sport - but that argument could be applied to steroids and other PED's as well.

The main reason why either is bad for sports is because of the "constituency" of the game. There are three groups that any player, coach, manager or official has to "serve" when he is performing his sport: teammates, management, and the fans of the game. Gambling and PED's affect how an individual involved in sports responds to these constituencies.

Gambling is the more insidious of the two, because it affects more of the constituency than steroids. The interest of the gambler is simply on the results - not on the performance of the game. Because of this, it alienates all three of the constituencies - teammates who are trying to win, management who are trying to promote the game, and the fans who anticipate watching a "legitimate" contest.

Steroids are different in one key area: they do not alienate all of the constituencies. Or at least they don't affect them in the same way as gambling. Teammates know something is going on - they'd have to be stupid not to see the needles and the workouts and the "roid raging". Management might have their suspicions, but if it means wins and butts in the stands - it's all good. Fans like the longball and the additional offense - unless, of course, you're a fan of the Kansas City Royals. Then you're fearful that there is no competition against a team of 'roided up Bash Brothers.

Performance-enhancing drugs have so many conflicting effects on the constituencies of the game that it's hard for all of them - and even, to a certain extent, any one of them - to come to a consensus about their effect on the game.

I still contend that gambling is different, because it has a direct cause-and-effect with all three constituencies - even if the third constituency is in Las Vegas.