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AP: Officials betting scandal may shake their industry


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Officials betting scandal may shake their industry

August 1, 2007 12:35 am



DENVER--Sports officials are worried the NBA betting scandal will ripple through all levels of sports, bringing increased heckling and distrust from fans.

"This is an absolute tragedy, but we brought it upon ourselves," said Barry Mano, president and founder of the National Association of Sports Officials. "We bring impartiality. This calls that into question, and it will be up and down the ladder--in all sports, on all levels."

Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is the target of an FBI investigation for allegedly betting on games, including some he officiated, over the last two seasons. He resigned July 9.

As are all NBA officials, Donaghy was a member of NASO, whose mission is, among other things, to enhance the image of officials.

Irv Brown, a former NCAA basketball official, said the scandal will have the opposite effect.

"You've lost the trust of the American people," said Brown, the keynote speaker at the convention's opening night, one dominated by talk about Donaghy and how officials must police themselves more closely now.

"They're really concerned," Brown said. "They know it's going to give them a black eye. They were talking Saturday night that it's going to be a whole new ballgame. Everything is going to have to be reevaluated, everywhere.

"Instead of people yelling, 'Hey ref, you stink,' they'll say, 'Hey ref, you cheat..'"

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This happened in Italian soccer. You probably heard about it during the world cup in Germany. Four teams conspired with refs to fix games over a two year span. One team lost three trophies, including two league crowns, on top of which they were demoted for a year to Serie B (which is like minor league, but way better) and were barred from European football (Champions League, really big deal). They got through it, and that was really widespread. American sports will get through it. The media is painting it way bigger a scandal than it really is.

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With the amount of money bet on games, I find it hard to believe that any sports' officials are squeaky clean. There are always some exceptions to 'perfection'...and the NFL isn't exempt from the laws of nature.

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