Though fantasy sports cover many different sports, from baseball to basketball to football to golf and more, American football is the one that most people think of when it comes to fantasy and in particular daily fantasy sports (DFS). Football is the most popular sport for sports betting and for a long time now has also been the most popular for fantasy sports. With the barrage of commercials for DFS sites leading up to the football season and even more during its first month, the NFL has become associated with DFS, for better or worse.
Right now, it is for worse. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t too worried about how the DraftKings / FanDuel “insider trading” scandal will reflect upon the league. In his opinion, since DFS isn’t “real” sports betting (it is, just in a different form), even a horrible scandal won’t harm the integrity of the game.
According to the New York Daily News, Goodell commented on the current hullaballoo to reporters after an NFL owner’s meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan Wednesday. “It is hard to see the influence that it could have on an outcome of a game because individual players are picking different players from different teams, mashing them up, if you might call it that,” he said.
“And it’s not based on the outcome of a game, which is what our biggest concern is with sports betting. So our position continues to be that way. But we recognize some states consider it legal, and some don’t. We’ll follow that law.”
I would like to say that Goodell’s lack of overt concern isn’t because he doesn’t care, but he really probably doesn’t, as long as DFS keeps interest in the league high. After all, this is a man who has handled almost every problem under his watch horribly, whether it was when Ray Rice knocked out his wife on camera, the New England Patriots “Deflategate” Scandal, or trying to keep the significance of traumatic head injuries on the down-low. For Goodell, it is all about filling the league’s and the team owners’ coffers, so take the following with a grain of salt:
Consumer protection and making sure companies operate responsibly is important to us. And so, yes, that’s going to be important to us. We’re going to want to make sure that our fans are protected, the consumers in general are protected, and that we expect anyone that’s involved in any way — whether this is an advertiser or a sponsor or any other relationship — we do that in a responsible fashion. And I hope they will do that.
The advertiser and sponsor talk is humorous, because as much as the NFL is totally and completely in bed with fantasy sports (as mentioned earlier), it still tries to make us all believe it isn’t. It is almost admirable, how Goodell and friends say they don’t like sports betting but are just fine with fantasy sports but also keep it at arm’s length. When all but four of the league’s teams have advertisements from either DraftKings or FanDuel in their stadiums and some even have DFS-sponsored fantasy lounges on site, you are most definitely skipping down the sidewalk arm-in-arm with your DFS BFF. That’s why this statement from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy to the USA Today last month about how DFS sites don’t sponsor any teams is so amusing:
A team sponsor is a company that can use the team logo or say, “We are the official (company) of the team.” That is not the case here. These companies are not team sponsors. Officially or unofficially. They do not have any designations. Teams have advertising arrangements from a variety of companies, but that doesn’t make every one of them a team sponsor.
Yes, the NFL will be just fine. After all, this is actually a scandal (or potential scandal depending on one’s point view) that doesn’t involve the league. For once.