Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Insidiousness of Sports Betting

The most exciting bowl game yesterday and perhaps of the bowl season so far was the one -point victory by Oregon State over Missouri - 39 to 38. The Beavers had scored a touchdown to close the score to Missouri 38 - Oregon State 37 with 22.1 seconds to play. All Beavers coach Mike Riley had to do was kick the extra point and send the game to overtime. Instead he went for the win with a 2-point play and when running back Yvenson Bernard broke the plane of the goal-line - the final score was insured.

Here's where the insidiousness kicks in. The point spread on the game had Oregon State giving three points. There were probably many die-hard Beaver fans rooting up in Oregon or at the game who were jacked and pumped at the thought of overtime because that gave them a chance to win or push. In overtime - the team would have won or lost just as the bettor did. Instead Mike Riley's gutsy call cost them money. Their team won but they still took a hit in their wallets.

Conversely - the die-hard Missouri fans who had bet on the game were similarly conflicted. Overtime gave them a 50-50 shot of winning the game but Yvenson Bernard's 2-point conversion meant that the team they root for lost but they won money on the deal.

Just another example of how it's usually best not to bet on teams you root for. Call me crass but in my opinion the Missouri fans who saw their team lose but who won their bets got the better end of the deal than the Oregon State fans who bet on their team.

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