While the sport of athletics may be irrepressible, it is just as fair to say it is hardly flourishing. For decades, the sport has been caught in a netherworld between its amateur past and a never-quite-professional present, all the while fighting a losing PR battle in the war against performance-enhancing drug use and the corruptions in governance that accompany such a vast extra-national aggregation of players, agencies, events, and federations. To the general public, PED use has spread like an acrid stain over actual performance as the defining characteristic of the athletics’ game, though it may be no less prevalent than in many other sports.
Within the industry itself, there have been innumerable symposia searching for a solution to the sport’s public image problem. And though strides have been made in the short rein under Sebastian Coe’s leadership of the IAAF, a lasting resolution still remains down the track. Today, however, the U.S. Supreme Court may have offered a saving, though not ideal, grace.
As reported by AP, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 today to strike down the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a law barring state-authorized sports gambling. The court’s decision came in a case brought by the state of New Jersey, which had fought for years to legalize gambling on sports at casinos and racetracks in the Garden State. Nevada was the lone state grandfathered in at the time of the 1992 law where a person could wager on the results of a single sporting contest.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito for the court. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
With this ruling in hand, New Jersey is set to take bets within a matter of a few weeks at their casinos and race tracks. It has been estimated that as many as 32 other states would likely offer sports betting within a five-year span. (more…)