The Fix! Sports Gambling

by on November 30th, 2010
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Watching the football game between the new York Giants and the Green Bay Packers recently sort of reminded me that in today’s high finance sports gambling scene one might argue that the “Fix” was in sort of speaking at Lambeau Field. All one has to do is look into sports history. Even as far back in ancient Greece during the first Olympic games there were those who wagered sums of wealth on the outcome of certain events. During the Chariot races in ancient Rome people and even charioteers waged in some cases large sums of money or wealth on the out come of the race. In the first half of the 20th century one of the first most infamous cases in which a sports team purposely set out to loose for the sake of garnishing money in return happened in 1919. The Black Sox scandal as it became known.

It was during the 1919 World Series. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned for life from baseball for intentionally losing. To understand how this “Fix” happened is to understand the climate of the times and the harsh realities of a team owner [Charles Comiskey] who many White Sox players perceived as very unsympathetic and a virtual tightwad. The conspiracy was the brainchild of White Sox first baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil , who had longstanding ties to petty underworld figures. He persuaded Joseph “Sport” Sullivan , a friend and professional gambler, that the fix could be pulled off. New York gangster Arnold Rothstein supplied the money through his lieutenant Abe Attell , a former featherweight boxing champion.

Gandil enlisted several of his teammates, motivated by a dislike of club owner Comiskey to implement the fix. It was Comiskey who had developed a reputation for underpaying his players for years. Under the MLB reserve clause , back then players either had to take the salary they were offered, or couldn’t play Major League Baseball. This was because they were the property of the original team. All this meant that no other team was allowed to sign them. By all accounts Comiskey’s own lack of empathy for his players gave the motivation for certain white Sox players to go through with the “Fix.” One of the motivational factors was a clause in the stars pitcher’s contract that would have paid Cicotte, the star pitcher, an additional $10,000 bonus for winning 30 games. But by orders of Comiskey he was not allowed or rested in baseball terms for the season’s final two weeks after reaching his 29th win. This was done to purposely deny him of the $10,000 bonus. presumably to deny him the bonus. And, so the Black Sox scandal became synonymous with the “Fix.

There have been other infamous cases where athletes themselves purposely allowed other teams or other athletes to win just so that those individuals recoup more money that they would have earned even if they didn’t rig a contest for an opposing team or athlete. There are other more disturbing instances where the sport itself is overshadowed by the gambling that takes place before an event actually happens. Take Pete Rose for instance. He wagered money and bet on his own team. Whether it was to win or loose is not the issued. But what is most disturbing is the fact that Pete Rose decided to make money by gambling the future of his own team who he was entrusted to manage. When reporters interviewed many of Pete Rose’s associates, including alleged bookies and bet runners found out that he routinely bet on games and even his own team as much as over $2,000 daily.

When you look at either case whether it was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the Black Sox Scandal who was accused of intentionally losing the 1919 World Series or Pete Rose who intentionally gambled on baseball games even his own team both have left a moral black spot on the integrity of all sports. The biggest problem with Pete Rose betting on baseball games particularly when he was a player and then a manger is that he could control the games, make decisions that could enhance the chances of winning or losing the game therefore enhance his chances of winning his bets. All of these jeopardizes the integrity of not only the game of baseball but all of sports.

Even in some of the more highlighted professional boxing venues there have been allegations that the boxers themselves intentionally lost or threw the fight in order to settle gambling debts, to make more money than the purse, or for any other number of reasons. All of which continues to undermine the validity of sports today, When the athletes themselves set out to purposely gamble on their own performance whether it is to intentionally lose is an affront to the very nature of sports. With today’s volatile atmosphere in all sports venues especially horse and dog races betting will always attract the most unscrupulous of individuals who will do anything to sway the out come just so more money will be made. When we take into account that the players themselves like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson or a Pete Rose who set out to make money by betting or purposely putting the “Fix” on a game the value, the integrity, and the whole concept of athletics is lost.

We can only speculate that the players in Green Bay either were so ill prepared, outright overconfident, or just plain lousy in a game that should have showcased a higher caliber of professionalism and athletic powers over their opponents. Lets hope that the “Fix” didn’t play a role in the out come. But, the way the game was played out one has to wonder.

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