Last week, millions of people were all juiced up to bet on NFL football for the first time in six months.
It took only about two minutes before a high-ranking member of the mainstream sports media tried to take the wind out of their sails.
Right after kickoff, Trey Wingo, a longtime ESPN anchor and well-followed member of the mainstream media, sent out a tweet making a mockery of those who wanted to spend their night sweating NFL football, meaningless or not, for the first time since February.
What Wingo doesn’t realize is that the whole “if you bet on [NFL preseason or some niche sport], please seek help” trope is not only tired and untrue, but it also can potentially harm those who actually should look for support battling addiction.
Yes, if you are betting more than you can safely and responsibly afford on NFL preseason, you should absolutely do everything you can to beat a very tough condition. But that holds true for every gambling activity, no matter if it’s a game of poker or a Challenger-Level Tennis Match or the Super Bowl. When the fun stops, stop.
The common misconception and lazy narrative that Wingo advanced ahead of the Hall of Fame Game lumps everybody who wagered on that game, or any “Non-Major Sporting Event” for that matter, into one problematic bucket.
Had it been a regular season NFL game, it’d be hard to imagine the Golic & Wingo host shaming gamblers for having action on a game. Of course what Wingo –and plenty of other mainstream media members — don’t realize is the irony in all of this.
The NFL preseason is one of the best betting opportunities on the calendar and it’s a lot harder to win a bet on any given Sunday than it is on a Thursday night in the beginning of August.
Why? Because the regular-season NFL betting market is the most popular of all the sports. And the more money that’s bet on a given game, the more efficient the line becomes.
Oddsmakers post bad lines all the time in every sport; the difference with the NFL is that the bad numbers don’t last long once the market gets flooded with money and the bettors (pro and public alike) signal to bookmakers what the true odds should be.
Since not as many people bet on preseason football (or tennis or NHL or any other “niche” sporting event), bookmakers have a harder time beating bettors to a soft number.
“As you can imagine there is much less certainty surrounding the staring lineups and it can be hard to tell how many minutes players will get,” FanDuel’s Kevin Hennessy told the Action Network before last week’s Hall of Fame Game. “Also the lower handle on the games can make it harder for the industry to come to a concrete consensus on spreads and totals.”
In other words, preseason football is generally a safer bet than regular season games.
All anyone who bets on sports cares about is finding an edge. And when there’s uncertainty, there’s opportunity, if you’re willing to put in more time to find and quantify that edge.
There are 11 more “meaningless” NFL games tonight. If you want to bet them — and can handle it responsibly — go right ahead and don’t listen to people who don’t get it.
Sports gambling is going to always have detractors. If you think somebody else spending their hard-earned money betting the Under in a Tulsa-Wyoming game doesn’t sound like fun, that’s OK. What can prove frustrating is when people make assumptions about a hobby you enjoy because of immature stigmas bandied about by people who should know better.
The least Wingo could have done was a little more research on a subject he obviously needs some help grasping before he blasts out a gross exaggeration to an audience of a million people. That kind of low-hanging fruit does no good for an issue that needs to be handled with the utmost care.
Had Wingo instead asked for help understanding why so many people are betting a “meaningless” game, perhaps some progress could have been made and an example could have been set for other people like him.
Instead, another member of the mainstream media got the cheap high-horse satisfaction he craved and nothing got accomplished.