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The possibility that New York and perhaps other states besides Nevada will permit betting on sports such as baseball, football and basketball sometime within the next few years is at least alive. In what he considers to be the best interest of his game, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle has rushed to protest—to be quickly joined in agreement by the commissioners of other major professional sports. Certainly, it may be true that open Off-Stadium Gambling will convert many innocent fans into suspicious betting zealots, but many of the commissioner's arguments are faulty and even, in one sense, hypocritical.
In the first place, Rozelle says, "It is not characteristic for team sports to be involved with gambling," a gee-whizism that flies in the face of the well-known fact that up to 90% of the money placed with bookmakers in this country is on team games. "There is no way to have controls," Rozelle continues, being pessimistic to suit his own argument. In fact, who is the commissioner to suggest gambling controls for a public that wants to gamble? His business is to guard the integrity of football.
Finally, Rozelle declares: "We are a symbol sport. We have heroes. Any legalized betting would raise suspicion about performance." Surely, there is no doubt that legalized gambling will encourage more people to put their money where their heart is, and many of these sore losers will read conspiracy into every missed field goal. Yet, is it possible to argue that legalized gambing will be any more insidious than illegal gambling? By tacitly aligning himself with the bookmakers, Rozelle establishes a bizarre coalition, rather like the preachers and the bootleggers in many Southern states who have often banded together to maintain the dry liquor laws.
Pro football teams are never bashful about urging governments into using public funds to construct huge stadiums for their use and considerable profit. Rozelle should keep this in mind when weighing arguments that football could be utilized in a manner that will produce revenues for the public.
THE OLD HIGH-FLY TRICK
WOULDN'T THIS BE MORE REALISTIC?
JOE SAYS IT AIN'T SO
These continue to be rough times for Joe Frazier outside the ring. His singing tour, a flop in the U.S., sank to new depths in Copenhagen last week when a scheduled music hall performance had to be canceled after only 28 tickets to a 3,000-seat hall were sold. In Philadelphia he has come under considerable criticism from the black community for his implied support of Democratic mayoral candidate Frank Rizzo, a tough law-and-order ex-policeman who won the primary recently with virtually no other black support.
In Stockholm last week Frazier somewhat testily denied either that he had heard any complaints about his pro-Rizzo stand or, indeed, that he had "signed anything" endorsing Rizzo. Said Frazier: "Frank Rizzo and I are friends. As a person and a man I know him. I went to a dinner he had because I promised him I'd go. As far as I'm concerned, he's all right with me, he's treated me like a man, but I didn't endorse him. I didn't endorse anybody. I didn't sign nothing."