If you thought The Hill’s recent headline — “Will online sports gambling kill America?” — was the height of insanity when it comes to the recent spate of anti-sports betting rhetoric, some Michigan State professors would like you to hold their beer.
The professors are circulating a petition calling on the university to terminate its deal with Caesars Sportsbook, which is a reasonable position to take. After all, the American Gaming Association has called on its membership (which does not include Caesars) to quit teaming up on marketing deals with colleges. And plenty of politicians are calling for the same.
So that’s not the issue. No need for beer holding yet.
It’s the way the professors frame their argument that is, to date, the most hysterical take on sports betting I’ve seen. They talk about the potential harm of sports betting by invoking the mass shooting that occurred earlier this year on the Michigan State campus.
“After the tragic events at Michigan State University in February, the campus community gathered for a candlelight vigil at the Rock,” begins the petition. “We pledged to take care of our students and look after them during this challenging time.”
To be clear: This is a petition about MSU having a partnership with Caesars, not about the scourge of school shootings across America.
“But MSU is plagued by one glaring contradiction to our commitment to look after our students,” the petition continues in its second paragraph. “As profiled in recent national news stories in the New York Times, National Public Radio and the PBS Newshour, MSU is one of a handful of U.S. universities that have entered partnerships with online gambling companies.”
Nowhere near apples to apples
The petition goes on to talk about problem gambling and the issues surrounding it, comparing sportsbooks to drug dealers, and finally ending with this: “With our partnership with Caesars, this is who MSU is: selling out for profit at the expense of our students’ well-being.”
Do you think, for one second, that the families of the three students killed — or the five people injured, or the tens of thousands affected — think that a mass shooting is in any way comparable to a university signing a marketing deal with a sportsbook? In what world is it OK to equate one with the other?
And if we’re talking about the “well-being” of the student population, I mean, the professors might also want to look at the menu offerings at the campus restaurants. Some are even all-you-can-eat, and there’s fried food galore.
“But MSU is plagued by one glaring contradiction to our commitment to look after our students,” that second paragraph could read. “Obesity blah blah blah and so forth.”
And believe it or not, there are also a bunch of bars catering to MSU students.
“But MSU is plagued by one glaring contradiction to our commitment to look after our students,” that second paragraph could read. “Alcoholism blah blah blah and so forth.”
The point here is it would be insane to compare kids eating too many burgers and drinking too many beers to a mass shooting, and it should be seen as equally insane to compare a sports betting partnership to a mass shooting.
You want to be against the Caesars deal? Fine. Reasonable. Totally understandable. But to invoke mass murder in defense of your position is unconscionable.
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