July 24, 2007
MarkBernstein.org
 
Follow me on Twitter

Referees

Though the impact has been relatively muted so far, the coming indictment of NBA ref Tim Donaghy for fixing games is going to change the sports world tremendously.

For years, I've wanted to meet a veteran sports reporter socially, just to ask whether they thought the games were on the level. Now we pretty much know what has long been suspected: some of the games are rigged. (For example, someone made a list of the games that Donaghy worked last year, where the over/under spread moved more than 1.5 points. That's ten games: the over covered in all ten. Ouch.)

My point is: whatever happens, the story gets bigger. If Donaghy fingers other refs or players, it gets bigger. If he doesn't, people will analyze every minute of every game and they'll find every discrepancy — and every hint of cooperation with other refs. And that makes the story bigger. If Donaghy is convicted, the story gets bigger. If he isn’t, there will always be a suspicion that the fix was in, that a wealthy league and wealthy owners secured an acquittal.

Bad news for Pete Rose.

Bad news any teams wanting to move to Las Vegas.

And, in the end, very bad news for sports.