Skip to Content

With all the concerns about the inevitable game-fixing scandal that is only months/weeks/hours/last night away, it is only right and just that those wise people who do not have an opinion on Aaron Rodgers's latest heel-salchow or the evils of college athletes no longer working for Cheetos have a view toward the evils of sports becoming common-law wives with gambling.

Indeed, the talking point du jour is how game officials are the new gateway drug to match-fixing because (a) they don't make enough money and can be easily squeezed by mobsters and mobster interns, (b) aren't respected by employers, players, or fans, and (c) because Tim Donaghy is everywhere and working every game because every game is already fixed and we just don't know it yet. As an example, the hypercaffeinated Nick Wright, one of the top toucans of the sports yap game, explained the theory in a hostage video from the break room at Ebbets Field Flannels.

So what are the sports leagues to do other than take the gambling money and dare the public to walk away in disgust when the million-ton shithammer lands? Outsource the gig, that's what, and the cutting edge here seems to be the Golden State Warriors. Wednesday night, Chris Paul assessed his options in the grips of a 14-point deficit to the Dallas Mavericks and decided to T up official Matt Myers for T'ing him up:

Not that it made any difference, mind you—the Warriors got pillowcased 109-99—but it did remind us of a Stephen Curry moment two seasons back when Gediminas Petraitis rang him up and got rung up in response. In fairness, Curry waited until throwing down three consecutive treys to turn a nine-point lead into 18 and ease the Warriors past the Clippers. Either way, Paul channels Curry, art imitates mockery, and a potential solution to the as-yet-unproven rash of fixed games reveals itself.

And no, it isn't in just making the Warriors the new officials; somehow Draymond Green as the new Zach Zarba is a brainbend nobody is ready for on any level. But greater transparency would help just as much as indemnifying the system, and making the players work double-shifts would appeal to the owners in an economical way—they can fire the 70-some-odd referees they don't like anyway, and for the cost of 1,000 or so whistles (everybody needs a couple of spares) they could get more work out of the people they have to pay anyway. That'll teach them to ruin the sanctity of the All-Star Game.

So why not make the players and coaches be the officials? You won't get fixed games if the players call their own fouls, though you will almost certainly get nightly fistfights (Doc Rivers squares off with Joe Mazzulla in a main event you will want to miss). At bottom, this would help provide proof for the new adage that any old form of pandering will do when you're fighting Caitlin Clark for the entertainment dollar.

This assumes that result manipulation is just an issue of finances, and that games are fixed solely out of greed. They aren’t. Any human vulnerability can be a target for a gambler with an eye toward short-sheeting the system, and players can be just as vulnerable as officials or owners or league minions. Bedding down with DraftKings is probably not the path to game manipulation anyway, since DraftKings doesn't benefit from fixed games nearly as much as letting dim betters do their worst on games that aren't fixed.

But enough of that. We're not getting paid to repair people's faith in Scott Foster, not while Robert Kennedy Jr. is running for President with his pants at his ankles. We'll wring our hands when it's time to wring our hands, and besides, if the March 29 game between the Pistons and Wizards doesn’t go the way of the CCNY Beavers, then we will have lost faith in the entrepreneurial spirit that made us the most avaricious nation on earth. We're just inspired by the way Chris Paul and before him Stephen Curry figured the workaround that can calm everyone's fears, at least until the next time Rudy Gobert takes a view.

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter