Monthly Archives: January 2014

Gambling and Track and Field; Alvarado car crash?;

All Bets Are Off…For Now?

Betting on marathon and track and field events is virtually nonexistent in the United States, but there is some discussion of whether to implement gambling at track and field and marathon venues. Historical accounts from England in the 17th and 18th centuries reveal that wagering on foot races was once a widespread commonality. However, there are few occurrences of betting on foot races in early America. In fact, in 1888, the Amateur Athletic Union precluded all gambling on foot races in the United States, which continued from then until 1995. John Mansoor, then indoor meet track director of the Reno Air Games, introduced gambling to the meet in Nevada. USATF hastily sanctioned the notion, and the story displayed in many national newspapers. But what is most intriguing about gambling on races is that there are no laws against betting on races in the United States. The setback? You can only make legal sports wagers in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas has no interest in offering a gambling option on track and field events. The article does not discuss the reasons for that, but I would imagine Vegas has zero expertise in the area, and they likely do not believe they can make enough money out of it to make it worthwhile for Vegas. Internationally, though, Europe has adopted gambling in track and field not for financial reasons, but as a form of marketing, The Weltklasse Zurich, for instance, added betting to Athletics (the formal term for track and field in Europe), in order to attract more people to attend competitions.

Why hasn’t America implemented gambling? The biggest concern is whether gambling will ruin the integrity of the sport. By nature, gambling has a negative connotation attached to the name, which causes ,many directors of marathons and track meets from infecting the sport with gambling. Track and field still has the “pure sport” countenance that many directors want to maintain. Others feel that the lack of gambling proves how unpopular the track and field world is from the rest of the sports in the United States. Creative thinkers, though, are working on ways to finagle gambling so that it becomes more of a promotional feature. One idea is to place bets on athletes hitting at or below a target goal, and if the athlete hits the goal, the athlete receives the money bet on him. In essence, the crowd would pay for the performance; failure to hit the target goal would mean the gamblers receive their money back. Another idea is to put the money toward an athlete’s charity, and the place the athlete comes in would determine how much the charity would receive on behalf of the athlete. Note that these are for professional meets, and that any affiliation with NCAA athletes completely shuts out talk of gambling. Think about it, though – given Galen Rupp’s astounding achievement of two American records in two consecutive weeks, and the hunt for the American mile record at the Millrose Games, wouldn’t it be tempting to wager on whether he would break another record?

Alvarado Linked to Car Crash

Yesterday afternoon, Denver police found an SUV with a smashed hood in Sloan’s Lake that is believed to be associated with Boxer Mike Alvarado. The police have reason to think the vehicle experienced a crash earlier in the week, and that Alvarado had something to do with the vehicle rolling into the lake, as Alvarado purchased the car. Interestingly enough, the vehicle is not registered to him. Alvarado denies the allegation. Alvarado posted bond for an outstanding warrant and an unrelated traffic violation yesterday, and is set to leave for California for a boxing match. His manager-trainer and his promoter both vouch for Alvarado’s lack of involvement.

Finally, the last two pieces are that no security threats have been made against the Superbowl (although I would think that sounds like an indirect invitation for something to occur), and the owner of the St. Louis Rams purchased a sizable piece of land in Inglewood that could be used for an NFL stadium, but there are substantial consequences if in fact Stan Kroenke intends to move. It appears to be all speculation, but that may only serve as a protection to the St. Louis Rams in maintaining their fan base.

Los Angeles Wins Olympic Bid; Prostitution Spikes in New York; Costly NFL Settlement Looming In Federal Court

LA To Host 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s and Women’s Marathon Trials

Unfortunately, there is little to report in legal news of track and field this morning. Yesterday, it was announced that Los Angeles beat out Houston and Cincinnati in winning the bid to host the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for the Men’s and Women’s Marathon. The Trials are set to begin on February 16, 2016. The articles goes on to comment on how the date was chosen to provide competitors in the Marathon Trials the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Track and Field in June of 2016. Hosting this event will bring hundreds of thousands to the Los Angeles area to not only watch the Trials, but also to participate in the Los Angeles Marathon occurring the day after the Trials. However, the article does not address security concerns, likely due to the wide gap between now and February 2016. In light of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy, security must certainly rate at the top of everyone’s concern, and will be interesting to see how Los Angeles plans to protect all who are in attendance during those days.

Prostitution and the Superbowl: Knowledge is Power

The Superbowl is only a few days away. During this time, most people focus on the following details: where they will watch the Superbowl, what food to make and/or bring, who to invite to Superbowl parties, etc. Prostitution, though, is a topic that appears to fly under the radar when Superbowl talk arises. The problem with it is that many of the prostitutes are doing so illegally – as part of a forced underground sex trade. Yesterday, “nearly 20 women were arraigned on prostitution charges, far more than the court ordinarily handles in one day,” the article states. Although specific data on how prevalent the sex industry affects host cities of the Superbowl is unreliable, police enacted nearly 300 arrests since the start of the new year based on prostitution-related charges – a 30 percent increase from last year at this time, according to the article. This act of modern slavery has not gone unnoticed, however. The article does point to a number of initiatives to stop illegal sex trading. One of the ways the New Jersey government achieves this goal is by visibility – putting up billboards, for instance. But what is puzzling is what the article does not say – namely, the lack of initiative towards the ones who directly influence the trade: stop the source, stop the problem.

Could the Proposed N.F.L. Settlement Fail to Cover All Injured Athletes?

Judge Anita B. Brody presides over a federal court case in Philadelphia, and her ruling will have a substantial effect on the N.F.L. retirees who suffer “work-related brain injuries.” In short, N.F.L. retirees filed a lawsuit against the N.F.L., alleging that the injuries they sustained during their employment as football players has or will develop into substantial neurological damage, for which they have no protection. Recently, the N.F.L. proposed to settle the lawsuit for $765 million dollars. The N.F.L. came up with this number using their own experts, but refuse to show their work to the public or with the plaintiffs. Here’s a quick summary of how the settlement plays out: a retired player goes to the doctor, and the doctor diagnoses the player with (insert eligible condition here). Upon the diagnosis, the player will receive a lump-sum payment which coincides with the career length of the player. The longer you’ve played football, the higher the lump-sum. The article addresses the extraordinary uncertainty of whether this settlement will cover all of the players currently alive. Consider that football players generally develop neurological diseases much sooner and at a higher rate than the general population, and you may start to see how this could be a huge issue.

Finally, in non-legal news, two national meets attract some of the country’s best collegiate athletes at the Penn State National meet on the East coast, and the University of Washington Invitational on the West coast. Both meets run over two days, and both begin tomorrow. You can check out the heat sheets and live results on their respective athletic team websites.

Unionization of NCAA Athletes; TV Broadcast of Pistorius; Shaky Winter Games Security

Northwestern Athletes Strive to Unionize to Protect Rights

Arguably, the biggest headline today comes out of Chicago.  Kain Colter, Northwestern University’s starting quarterback from last season, teamed with Ramogi Huma, president of the College Athlete Players Association, to formally announce a petition for collegiate athletes to join a labor union. This maneuver is the first formal attempt of collegiate athletes coming together to protect their rights in a unique way: treat college athletes as employees. The union attempt competes against the original intentions of the N.C.A.A., one of which is to protect student-athletes from being exploited by professional organizations by keeping them under an amateur status. Collegiate athletes pursuing this effort recognize the irony, as they indicate that the N.C.A.A. is effectively using them for substantial profits. The movement is initiated by revenue-producing sports that could have a substantial effect on all collegiate athletes.

South Africa Dedicates 24-Hour TV Channel to Pistorius Trial 

Internationally, we turn to Cape Town, South Africa, where we learn that Olympian Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial will have its own 24-hour television channel in South Africa. Pistorius, charged with the murder of his 29 year-old girlfriend on Valentine’s Day last year, has successfully evaded substantial television coverage of his previous court appearances…until now. MultiChoice, the channel that will display “inside information on the most talked-about and controversial subject in recent South African history.”  The channel is set to launch on March 2, the eve before Pistorius is scheduled to go on trial.

Security Concerns for Sochi Games Still Prevalent

While the beginning of the 2014 Sochi Olympics grows closer, unrest concerning the terrorist threats continue to cause problems. Currently, the imminent threat is The Northern Caucasus, which is east of Sochi. The two areas are in conflict, and it does not appear that there will be any repose during the Winter Games. What is especially troubling is that Putin’s aggressive ago prompted him to choose a venue close to The Northern Caucasus, and that bombings have recently occurred there.  Athletes, families, friends, spectators and all who are involved with the Winter Games are right to be on alert: 34 people have already died from previous suicide attacks a month ago, and there’s no telling what terrorists have in store over the next few weeks. Despite increases in the amount of promised security, the author of the article doesn’t appear to address any of these concerns.

Choosing U.S. Olympic Trial Marathon Sites

There’s an interesting article about how Olympic Marathon Trials are selected, and how the United States Track and Field Association Rules have little to do with how Olympic Trials are set. You have to wonder whether there is any legal or rules basis in the decision, or whether it depends on who has the greatest political prowess.

Interview With New WADA President Sir Craig Reedie

The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) interviewed newly elected World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Sir Craig Reedie on how his first few weeks as the new president have treated him. The interview also discusses Reedie’s short and long-term goals, including educating individuals on the revised World Anti-Doping Code (changes to take effect in January 2015) and funding initiatives towards anti-doping research.

Mexico and the Fight Against Anti Doping

Finally, in related news, Mexico has taken significant measures in the struggle against doping in sports. The newly established laboratories that allow Mexico to test blood for all of the illegal substances on the WADA list certainly aid Mexico in its quest to being one of the best countries in the world on preventing the use of illegal substances in sports.