As Legalized Betting Increases, So Does The Magnification Of Officiating

Written By Marc Meltzer on October 30, 2019

In a new survey, 62% of Americans say that legal sports betting influences people’s reactions to officiating during games played by the National Football League (NFL). Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) say the NFL has “good” officiating. The survey about major US sports league officiating was conducted by Seton Hall University last week.

Major League Baseball has the best officiating?

Even though Major League Baseball (MLB) is testing robot umpires, the survey shows that Americans perceive the officiating of MLB better than any other major sport. MLB scored a whopping 64% approval rating for umpiring. Only 3% surveyed say umpires in MLB are terrible.

The participants in this survey probably haven’t looked at Twitter during a baseball game. It seems every missed call is amplified regardless of how accurate the umpire is throughout the entire game.

The survey says that most pro and college sports have worse officiating than MLB. Here’s how “good” the those surveyed think officiating is in the other major sports in the US:

  • NBA: 49% “good”
  • NFL: 48%
  • NHL: 44%
  • College basketball: 48%
  • College football: 53%

Integrity in sports

Sports leagues are making the integrity of the game the number one topic when it comes to sports betting expanding in the US. While they’ve changed the “integrity fee” to a royalty, the leagues keep beating the drum about the need for integrity in the respective sports.

Sports leagues want to be more involved with sports betting. They also want to keep integrity in their games. The first place the leagues might want to look to firm up the integrity of the league is the officiating. Bad officiating might be the biggest issue for leagues looking to improve the integrity of its games.

The officiating isn’t great in any league. The best league has a 64% approval for officiating by people who answered telephone surveys. According to this survey, MLB and college football are the only sports that have more than a 50% approval rating for officials.

If the leagues want to ensure the games have legitimate outcomes they might want to get things order in their respective houses. The partnerships the leagues are forming with sportsbooks are to ensure integrity. It’s difficult to say a league has integrity if 36%-56% of Americans don’t think the officiating is even “good.”

What’s in a survey?

Small sample-sized polls are only a representation of a small portion of an audience. A poll is partially defined by its methods. In this poll, Seton Hall University only surveyed people by phone. Respondents to a telephone poll or survey often differ from in-person interviews and online polls.

This survey Seton Hall conforms Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. There shouldn’t be much doubt about the validity of the information gathered. However, it takes a special person to stop what they’re doing and answer a phone call from a stranger about just about any topic.

The poll results might skew older than a true representation of all sports fans. That said, these results should represent honest opinions from a subset of sports fans. Seton Hall also used this survey to find political leanings of recipients. The full list of how Democrats and Republicans differ can be found here.

Marc Meltzer Avatar
Written by
Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

View all posts by Marc Meltzer