Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More on the NBA Scandal by Vegas Art Guy

For those of you who don't follow the NBA, a betting scandal has erupted involving a referee fixing games for the mob. In short Tim Donaghy has been under investigation for betting on games in the NBA including ones that he was working at. Right now Las Vegas Sports Consultants have been hired to help the NBA look at betting patterns over the last two years to see if they can spot a pattern that would help them and the FBI determine if it's just one referee or several that are involved.

CBS has a great article detailing how a referee can alter the outcome of a game, specifically with the over/under for a game. For those who don't gamble the over/under is a bet where you wager on the total points that both teams score in a game. If the over/under for an NBA game is 198 1/2, and you take the over, you are betting that the total points will be 199 or greater. If you take the under you think that the total points will be 198 or lower. A few calls either way can move the over/under enough to put the total where the ref (and the mob) wants. If the ref wants a low scoring game, all he has to do is blow his whistle a bit more and the star player(s) have to sit on the bench so they don't foul out. If the ref wants the total to go over he can either sit on his whistle or spread fouls around until both teams are in the bonus which leads to more points scored.

Not surprisingly this scandal erupted due to illegal gambling and you can't blame legal sports books for this. Las Vegas has too much to lose to risk cheating. Trust is paramount in gambling, the casinos know that if you even think the house is cheating you'll take your money someplace else.

This scandal is going to touch other sports as well, as now every close call will really be under the microscope and whispers will start to be heard.

On sports radio stations I've heard more than once that college football refs need to be looked at as well. They work part time and have a reputation of playing favorites especially for home teams. Nor are they highly paid for what they do. They'd be ripe for bribery, especially considering the amount of money that is bet on football, and how much is riding on every game. One or two losses and you're out of the national title picture in Division I football. Personally there is no reason why the referees in college sports should not be full time employees. It's not like the NCAA isn't literally swimming in money from the fat football and basketball TV contracts they have. But I have a feeling that won't change until a similar scandal erupts in the collegiate ranks.

In addition, Major League Baseball is trying to negotiate with the umpire's union to get better background checks added to the employment process to help stop a similar scandal from tainting their already tainted product. I will have to give Bud Selig credit for being proactive here and the union grief for opposing this. Heck I have to go through a background check for teaching, is it too much to ask that we make sure our officials are on the up and up?

In addition it looks like congress is going to get involved as well. Anything to keep from draining that swamp I guess.