View Full Version : Oh, I bet...you bet I do

03-15-2012, 12:41
de⋅gen⋅er⋅ate /adj. dɪˈdʒɛnərɪt adjective - having fallen below a normal or desirable level, esp. in physical or moral qualities.

You know...

I'm sitting here watching a bunch of guys run around, bouncing a 9-inch diameter ball, and trying to throw it into a 18-inch hoop, placed 10 feet above their heads. Only a Canadian could come up with this.

March Madness is finally upon us. Nerves are frayed, brackets are broken, ulcers are formed, and credit lines are stretched. If you look at the stats, millions of dollars are wagered, and thousands of hours of labor are lost at work every year because of the NCAA tournament. $3.8 billion or more is in lost in worker productivity as employees slip away to check NCAA Tournament scores, participate in office pools, or watch CBS' free streaming webcasts of the games on their office computers.

Many people are convinced that people who gamble are the degenerates of society. What they don't keep in mind, is that some people actually have the will-power to stop when necessary, or the financial ability to keep up with their losses. I am one of those in the first column. Keep in mind; I'm not dropping a couple grand a day on this stuff. I spend the equivalent of coffee money, or whatever change may be in my pocket, in the hopes of a big payout. I do however, spend a ridiculous amount of my free time researching all my picks, and yet, still have very little results. I consider it a hobby and find it adds another source of entertainment to the game. I do it because I still think that I am smarter than Vegas. I check the sports odds websites daily. I take the time to read the online posts by the regular visitors, who are obviously spending much, much more than me. They trash talk each other relentlessly. I worry about them.

But now nightly, I will find myself yelling at some 19 year old kid. I'll be ready to throw my TV out the window because he missed a free throw at the end of a game, and his team didn't cover the spread. The people that live in my neighborhood will have questions at that point.

I am the furthest thing from a conspiracy theorist (except for the whole electric car thing), but I have to objectively look at the dynamics of today's sports gambling. In today's economic climate, there are way too many opportunities for a college kid to fix a game. There is a 'student-athlete' on any one of these teams, that knows he is not NBA material. He knows that his basketball career at the school went nowhere near as well as he thought it would. The kid may want to help his family out. He probably has bills of his own that need to get paid. The lure exists for him to throw a game, or shave some points for a quick buck. To think it doesn't is just naive, and bordering on stupid.

We live in a technologically advanced society where people can be in contact with each other, with just the punch of a few buttons located in their pocket. It seems everyone has a Smartphone, or is on Facebook, or Twitter. Offshore online sports websites are all over the internet. Due to the mismanagement of sports gambling legislation in Canada and the United States, these are the few 'legal' options that the sports gambler has. Of course, "Johnny Knuckles" has a line ready for you, but making that phone call is always a mistake. We also know that professional athletes have become prone to using their "tech-outlets". Twitter and Facebook have replaced press conferences as the means by which athletes release news about themselves. So unless the coaches have their players locked in an empty basement like a bad Austrian father, they know the point spread of their game. Trust me, they know.

The best example of what can happen is to look at the professional basketball ranks, and corruption with the officiating in the NBA. Already, it has been proven that referees (Tim Donaghy) were fixing games. As recently as last year, one NCAA crew came under severe scrutiny after walking off the court with 1.7 seconds left in the game, after having missed two blatant turnover calls. The score total for that game ended EXACTLY on the number set by Vegas odds-makers. The crew then voluntarily removed itself from the remainder of the tournament. Hmmmmm. One can only imagine the pressure being placed upon the referees of the biggest 68 team tournament in America. The same situation exists as far as being segregated from information. Just the appearance of a situation, where the official may have done something unscrupulous to alter the outcome of the game, is placed under higher scrutiny since the Donaghy issue. These are adults who can't have all day, league appointed babysitters. But, they are human, and may not be able to resist the opportunity for some 'easy money'.

Indeed, wagering on sports has somewhat become a sport upon itself. I understand that buyer beware may be the best option here. Nonetheless, I will still stop buying my coffee for the next few weeks. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to check the lines for today's games....and pray some kid doesn't owe the cable company any money.