I know many people are believers in the idea of putting bad energy out in the atmosphere. Besides not subscribing to any such theories, believe me I (almost) never wish ill upon anyone. That said, I have no skin in the game in any form regarding the Oakland Raiders relocating to Las Vegas for 2019, but somehow I do not see the team’s move ending well.
I am a Giant and Jet fan, the Raiders status has had little effect on either of my teams for several decades. The last Raider playoff win was 14 years ago, with the Miami Dolphins drought of 16 years only surpassing their futility. This past year was the first time the team had even made the playoffs since 2002. Hopes are realistically high for the Raiders for the first time in many years. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the move to Las Vegas from Oakland for the Raider could have disastrous results.
I know the Raiders are the NFL’s outlaw team. Their former owner Al Davis prided himself on a mantra of “just win baby” and the means always seemed to justify the end. Davis sued the NFL on numerous occasions, and the fact that the Raiders have previously moved twice before, first to Los Angeles from 1982-94 and then back to Oakland has established a precedent for their willingness to uproot. Now the team is all but set to move to Las Vegas for 2019 and I cannot believe the team does not see how the potential pitfalls far outweigh the financial benefits.
Sin City and the outlaws of the NFL seem like a match made in heaven, and that is partly why they need to stop before its too late. Where do I begin? Let’s start with the weather. NFL training camps are in July, with preseason games beginning in August. Of course some teams hold training camps outside of their home cities, including the Dallas Cowboys who hold training in California. The Las Vegas raiders will most likely have to do the same with average high temperatures for July at 106 F and 103 average highs for August.
Gambling has always been an impediment to previous talks about bringing a professional franchise. Leagues had always worried about an illegal element of sports gambling somehow infiltrating members of a team. With gambling legal in some form in most states, the regulated aspect of gambling and sports wagers seems to be less of a concern. So while illegal sports gambling may not be the cause of concern it once was, the gambling habits of the athletes itself should be.
Gambling addictions are a worldwide epidemic. Professional athletes are known to partake in wagers as much if not more than the average person. Perhaps it their competitive nature…perhaps it is their large salaries… perhaps its because they may be public figures… but the gambling habits of professional athletes are under larger scrutiny than the average person. Casinos have long solicited NFL players as valued suckers… I meant customers. The idea of having 53 players living there minimally through the course of a 20 plus week NFL season, may be too much temptation for players to resist, particularly during off days and down time, especially with the perks and enticements that Las Vegas casinos are so famous for offering.
Enticements from the casinos are not the only thing that Raider players have to worry about. Sin City received its name for a reason and with a marketing campaign that proclaims “Whatever Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas,” it is easy to understand why so many travel to Vegas specifically with debauchery on their minds. Is it a coincidence that the Miami Dolphins with South Beach as a backdrop, have a longer winless playoff streak than the Raiders? Perhaps, but South Beach is actually 15 minutes from the Dolphins Stadium and 40 minutes or further away from where the average Miami Dolphin actually lives. I am unsure where the average Raider player will live, but it is more likely to be a 15 to 20 minute drive at most from the Vegas strip at night.
Unbeknownst to most, prostitution is actually illegal in Clark County where Las Vegas is located. Unfortunately the illegality does not prevent Vegas as a destination spot for those engaged in the world’s oldest profession. The temptations for professional athletes have been widely documented. Most are able to resist, but hotel lobbies all along the Strip are a fertile mix of temptation and room for confusion, where seemingly innocent banter at the bar can somehow be grounds for negotiations. Athletes are always looked at as potential targets, but like South Beach, Las Vegas is home to hustlers (male and female) looking to exploit the inherent weaknesses and flaws of deep pocketed men.
Every professional city has temptations, but none, beyond perhaps South Beach, in which they are so known, heralded and easily accessible. The Vegas Strip is Vegas and to think that the players who will all likely live very close will be able to avoid its calling regularly is too much of a stretch. Remember the average age in the NFL is approximately 26 years old. To expect some of the younger players, not generally used to money and fame to handle the pressures of living in a city, nicknamed Sin City and its Strip, which is the primary source of tourism, nightlife and attractions, is asking too much of these young men to avoid on a nightly and consistent basis. The though is actually actually laughable.
Statistics show that Las Vegas has some of the most violent crime rates in the nation. Now, a cynic (or optimist depending how the question is framed) will say that the Raiders are coming from Oakland, an area known for violent crimes as well. While I do not want to get into specific statistical neighborhood demographics on crime, let me just say that the crime, specifically where the players will likely congregate regularly on a social basis, is higher than most teams should be comfortable with.
So with all of these seemingly obvious pitfalls in front of them would the Raiders even consider making a move especially in which there in not even a definitive fan base? The move is about the Davis family and other partners making money. Its about new stadiums, corporate clients and luxury boxes. The average home football attendance for University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) is 29,000 per game. It is a legitimate question and concern whether a professional team has the fan base to supply the 70,000 plus people needed to fill the seats.
I understand why NFL teams threaten to leave cities behind antiquated stadium deals. Corporate and luxury box revenue clearly affect a team’s bottom line. Yet, in this case it seems that potential bottom line has blinded a franchise from seeing the real side effects of uprooting to such an enigmatic city. One perfect for a visit, but perhaps not the most suitable for professional athletes on a full time basis.
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