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Why I don’t gamble on sports

July 2011
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This would be another good time to illustrate why sports betting and I should be kept in separate containers. You’ll notice that I used the word “another” in the previous sentence, since the number of examples promoting this point is expanding faster than the universe after the big bang.

The latest example results with the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The US team is presently the world’s top rated, but that often has no real meaning. This is particularly true with the competition being held in Germany this year. Germany automatically gets a bye entry into the competition, meaning that they really don’t have to compete to get there. In this case, the bye is really a non-issue. The German women’s team hadn’t lost an international match in a long time and was the hands-down favourite to walk away as winners again. They won the last two tournaments in 2003 and 2007, and last time, did not give up a game or a goal through the entire tournament. Odds were so much in favour of them that most teams probably showed up simply because the tournament’s in Germany and the beer is good.

Of course, if some incredible disaster happened and, amazingly, Germany was knocked out of the playoffs, there is another sure winner in the wings. Sweden was undefeated through the round robin and looked very good, good enough actually that only Germanywas probably capable of beating them. Needless to say, my incredibly honed sports prediction skills seem to have conducted themselves as usual, with Japan winning both in the quarter and semifinals to advance to play the US in the final on Sunday.

This is where I throw in an interesting piece of trivia. Most international football teams do not have a team name. Some have nicknames, like the Italian men’s team who are known as the Izuri. When Japan thrashed the German team in the quarter finals, I thought they may want a new name. How do you say “giant killers” in Japanese? Today, this went a step further as they completely dominated the Swedes, who incidentally play much the same style of game as the American team that they will face in Sunday’s final.

I could use the prime other example of why I don’t bet on sports. As a long time Leafs fan, we can all pretty well guess my competence in selecting winners. I presume that, after reading this, my three younger, devout Boston-Bruins-fan brothers will probably take a spare minute to gloat profusely. There is a silver lining here though. No, we may not win playoffs, but you also don’t see too many riots over that either. And, given the incredible fan support the Leafs still get (people still have to die before you move up in the line for seasons’ tickets), I’m not the only one who can’t pick a winner…

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