Saturday, March 27, 2010

bettors and fans

People frequently ask me if betting enhances the joy of the game for a fan. My best answer is that for a true fan of a particular team, betting actually detracts from the joy of watching a game. Betting creates a different game which sometimes is at odds with the ostensible one.

An example of this occurred this past Thursday night when Kansas State defeated Xavier in double overtime.

Very near the end of regulation Kansas State was winning by three points and poised to advance to what is called the "elite eight." However the spread in the game was Kansas State giving four and a half. This means, of course, that a bettor for Kansas State would lose since their team was only ahead by three. Meanwhile a fan for Xavier would be sad since Xavier was about to lose by three points. However bettors for Xavier would be happy since they were about to win since the casinos were advancing Xavier four plus points.

A strange thing then occurred. While shooting a three point field goal, a player for Xavier was fouled with almost no time to play. This meant that-- losing by three--a Xavier player would be awarded three foul shots. If he made them, the game would be tied and go into overtime.

At this juncture a rabid Kansas State fan who also had bet on Kansas State must have had mixed feelings. If the Xavier player was to miss any one of the shots, the fan's beloved Kansas State would advance. However, the bet would be lost. If, however, the player made all three shots, the game would go into overtime and then Kansas State might have an opportunity to not only win, but win by 5 points covering the 4 1/2 point spread. (This, by the way, is precisely what happened. The final score was 101-96 and Kansas State bettors would win by half a point).

This situation is what I refer to when I write that betting can actually detract from the joy of watching a game and does not "make it interesting." The bettors who only care about the bet are actually watching and cheering for a distorted version of the game which is at odds with the ostensible object of the game.

I proved to be correct that all three Cinderella's would go down. UNI put up more of a fight than I thought, but they and Cornell and St. Mary's lost and did not cover. I went 5-3 on Thursday and Friday, bringing my tournament record so far to 32-23-1. Not bad against the spread, but the kind of encouragement which eventually would only make a pauper out of me if I thought that with this wisdom I could score big at the sports books in Las Vegas. Such illusions of continued success are what built every hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Not sure about today. I think Kentucky will cover the 3 1/2 against West Virginia, and KS will similarly cover the 4 against Baylor. My best suggestion is that you stay away from both of these bets, and enjoy watching the games from purely a fan's perspective.

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