Pssst. I have a secret for you. It’s a shocker. It’s almost sacrilege to say among today’s NFL fans, but I’m going to release my classified documents on Super Bowl week.
I don’t play fantasy leagues. And I don’t care about your fantasy league. Not one iota.
I also don’t care about sports gambling. I have only a passing interest in the point spread.
I can see your mouths gaping open right now, and I still don’t care.
Here’s the thing: I watch football because I love football. I don’t watch it because I feel the need to gamble on the outcome or bet on any particular player’s statistics for the game.
I just don’t need it to enjoy the game, whether it’s football, basketball, baseball or curling.
Oh, I’m no gambling prude. I’ve placed a wager or two in my day and taken a chance on a three-team parlay. And who doesn’t like to predict the NCAA Tournament bracket.
My point is betting and fantasy leagues have become more important than the game. It’s the reason many people watch NFL games. The No. 1 interest is gambling in some fashion, not the actual sport.
If that’s your thing, cool. Bet you grandma’s house for all I care. Play Junior GM all you want.
The problem is that fantasy leagues and gambling have become such an enormous part of today sport’s world that respected journalists are expected to talk about it and write about it.
It used to be just the so-called ‘‘experts’’ in Las Vegas who would give you the “Lock of the Week” if you paid them the $29.95 fee, or whatever it might be.
Now entire websites are devoted to nothing more than giving people advise on fantasy leagues. And it’s not just the obscure sites.
My last two years at ESPN, we were expected to cater to fantasy players and give them advice. I’ll let you in on another little secret. Sports reporters don’t know any more than you do about who might or might not have a good game.
It’s just an educated guess, the same for all gambling. Well, often without the educated part.
The most important thing we did each day was the injury report because fantasy players need to know who to start or not to start. And waiting on the inactive list for each NFL team on Sunday was like rabid dogs waiting for raw meat.
Preseason magazines for football and baseball often are dedicated to listing players by their fantasy-league draft number. When I see a magazine with the headline as Fantasy League, I know not to buy it. I want to know about each team and its players, not whether he is the No. 14 wide receiver for your fantasy draft.
But I certainly understand why. Fantasy league info gets more clicks than anything else.
The Nevada Gaming Control released its annual number Wednesday. The state's sportsbooks won a record $248.7 million off the $4.8 billion wagered in 2017.
Let that sink in a minute. Almost $5 billion was bet on sports, and that’s just legal betting in Vegas. It’s probably double that amount when including bookies on the street nationwide.
Even with declining TV ratings, an all-time high of $1.7 billion was wagered on college and NFL football. What does that tell you? That betting is more important that watching.
And those wagers have nothing to do with fantasy leagues. I can’t begin to guess the amount of money that changes hands nationally on leagues among friends.
You also can get your fix without betting on the game. Here are a few examples for Sunday’s Super Bowl:
What color hair will Pink have for the national anthem? How many tweets will Trump post during the game? Who will be the first team owner shown on TV during the game?
So go for it. If you enjoy it, I’m happy for you. Just don’t ask me to care.
Call me crazy, but any game I watch has an old-fashioned reason: I love it. That’s enough of a sports fantasy for me.
My unfiltered insights on our world.