Friday, November 7, 2014

Why not bet against your own team?

Betting on a neutral game is one thing. If you’ve spent a lifetime watching the game, and if you’ve invested tens of hours in studying the form in forensic detail, and if someone is offering to double your money…. Then you would be mad not to take their cash.

That’s the dispassionate scenario. Where it gets more complicated is when you consider betting on a game where you have an emotional stake. That’s not the same thing at all. When you’re betting on a game in which your team is playing ‘dispassionate’ is just about the last word that we should be using.
 Thinking about the team you support is as much emotional as rational. It might feel as though you are being fair minded, objective and clinical but you’re not. If you can be all of those things and still think about your team’s chances in a game, then you should seriously think about how much of a fan you really are.

The two ideas do not even belong in the same brain. That’s why you should never back your own team. Besides which, if winning is not enough of a buzz for you in and of itself - again - you should go and do some serious thinking. 

And when you’ve done all that thinking you should hand back your merchandise and go and spend the weekends out in the woods on your own somewhere.

Ok. So that’s why not to back your own team. But there is still an elephant in the stadium. What about backing your team to lose?

You’ve spent a lifetime watching, you’ve invested hours in studying the form, and you know - as sure as God made little green $20 bills - that there is no way they’re going to win. What about softening the pain of defeat - taking some recompense for your misery? How else will you feel good about drowning your sorrows unless someone else is going to pay for it?

This is a much more serious question.

Obviously at an ethical level it is wrong. It’s not wrong like finding your best mate’s girlfriend attractive; it’s probably more akin to being attracted to your best mate. Conventionally speaking, it’s just not the way things ordinarily to go. 

And that’s why emotions aren’t to be trusted. 

Look, we’re all grown-ups here. And this isn’t the dark ages. If you want to bet against your own team, then odds are you’ve probably got a very good reason for doing so. If your cold, clinical calculations come up with an answer that is more persuasive than your own died in the wool prejudice, then maybe you should take that as a sign of their merit. 

Betting against your own team is not a crime - not if no-one finds out anyway. But it is an act that will see you cross a line. If you’re prepared to make that journey, then you deserve every penny you win. It’s a brave move. Good luck to you.

Of course, the down side is that you do run the risk of becoming a sad, friendless and penniless loser. As they say, you pay your money and you take your rational, dispassionate and objective choice.

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