I think that professional sports leagues should allow bribery. As much as I try, season after season, I can just never get into sports. Everyone at work always talks about sports. And for some reason, I always think that I’ll just be able to jump in the middle of a conversation and say something that makes it seem like I know what I’m talking about. I’ll read the papers and look for nuggets of insight or something interesting to point out. But I always tell my anecdotes out of context. And besides, it never comes out as genuine, and I think people can pick up on that. Also, if I happen to say something that’s actually relevant to what’s going on, my colleagues will almost always ask me to elaborate, or continue talking to me. In which case I just keep saying, “What?” all while slowly backing away until they’re out of earshot and I really can’t hear them anymore. Bribery would add a whole new level to the game, and would make everything much more interesting, not only for me, but for everyone who insists on talking about sports with me.
I have a constitutional argument for bribery. Aren’t the paying of and/or soliciting of bribes just an extension of our first amendment rights to free speech? I’m going to look it up. OK, I just looked it up and it turns out I’m right (big surprise, right?) Who the hell gets to decide how I can or can’t use my money to influence a game that I’m only marginally a part of? So let’s get on this Justice Department.
Bribery, on the surface, only seems unfair because it’s not out in the open. There are a few ways we could fix this. Bribery could be done all under the watchful gaze of the public eye. So if I go to a sports team and pay a bribe for them to throw the game, everyone would know about it. You might think that this would just end the game, and thus the fun, right there. But you’d be wrong. It would basically be an invitation for someone with even more money to bribe the other team to lose also. Now things would be really interesting. If, all of the sudden, you’re watching a professional sports game, and both sides look like they’re purposefully trying to lose, well then you’ll know what’s going on. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if both teams really tried to lose? Would the losers then be the winners? I think we’d all be the winners.
But, yeah OK, having everything out in the open seems like a little too much freedom. I think that it should be allowed, but those doing the bribing should be permitted a little anonymity, just a little, again, in the interest of keeping the game interesting. Gambling would have to be made legal for this to work. And bets would have to be continuously accepted throughout the course of a game. Say, for example, that I’m watching a game, and one side is just playing terribly. I might have a pretty good idea that the losing team is just botching it on purpose, so I’ll be able to call in a bet. But then the bribers would be able to take a look at the spread in real time, and they could also adjust their bribes accordingly. Now it would be even more interesting, because you could have money on a certain team, but also have money against whoever is making the bribes.
Now that I’m actually thinking about it, like really thinking about it, I don’t think institutionalized bribery would work out. It just seems like we’d be driving everything to the lowest standards possible. Maybe the bribing should be allowed, but just left solely to the officials. And it could all be really hush-hush. If I were a referee or an umpire or a judge or whoever is in charge of calling the shots for whatever sport I might be observing, I would go around and solicit bribes from one team every game. But after a team paid me, I would make sure that this team lost. And afterwards, the players and the coaches would surround me in the parking lot and say, “Hey! We paid you a bribe! And we expected results!” And I would respond to them, “Well, you wanted results, you got it. The result is a life lesson. And the life lesson is: You shouldn’t bribe the ref.” And they would all lower their fists and their bats and sticks and they would look at each other and slowly come to the realization that, it’s true, cheaters never win.
The only problem with this scenario is: what if a team pays me a bribe, and I want to teach them a lesson, so I plan to make them lose, but it turns out that they are so much better than the opposing team that there is nothing I can do to sway the outcome? Simple. I’ll let them win, but then I’ll tell everyone that they were cheating, that they were using rigged equipment. And I’ll produce baseball bats filled with metal and duffel bags filled with steroids. And I’ll have somebody punch me in the face and I’ll point to my black eye and tell everyone, “See? They’ve been threatening me the whole game. I tried to stand up for the integrity of sportsmanship, but they punched me in the face!” Also, I’d tell them about the bribe, but I’d say that it was forced upon me, that I never wanted to accept it in the first place. I’d probably be portrayed in the news as a hero, as a regular guy who stood up for what’s right.