Delusional Thinking Defined

The St. Louis Rams signed WR, Titus Young yesterday after the Detroit Lions had released Young. During the past season, Young had complained that he was not getting the ball as much as he would have wished but the Lions seemed to have ignored his outbursts on that subject. The team, however, could not ignore Young’s latest verbal outburst. Young declared to the Lions’ team and to his high school coach that he, Titus Young, is a better wide receiver than Calvin Johnson. Just let that sink into your consciousness for a moment … Now that you have assimilated that statement and all that it might mean, remember those words the next time anyone asks you for an example of delusional thinking.

A friend who has been reading these rants since before they saw the light of day on the Internet 12 years ago sent me this Q&A:

“Q: Why is Tim Tebow still single?

“A: Because he cannot throw a reception.”

I am proud to note that some folks have internalized the frivolity that is always welcome here even if said frivolity is beneath the surface of these remarks…

According to an AP report on sports.yahoo.com, there is a potentially huge soccer scandal brewing overseas. Europol declared that organized crime entities have fixed or tried to fix the results of hundreds of soccer games around the world. [Europol is not a police organization per se; it exists to bring together the police functions of the myriad EU countries with the objective of increasing efficiency and effectiveness.] Given the number of such games and the extensive popularity of the games, that might not be all that surprising if the predicate to that assertion was that the fixing was happening in the leagues housed by “developing countries” or in the bottom levels of soccer in those parts of the world where it is really big business. Such seems not to be the case…

Europol claims that fixed matches and attempts to fix matches have been in competitions to include World Cup qualifying matches, European Cup qualifying matches and European Champions League games. Put in terms that US sports fans might understand, this is like a basketball point-shaving scandal that allegedly happened in the second and third rounds of the NBA playoffs.

According to Europol, players and officials have been involved in match fixing for at least the last four years. The current announcement says that players and officials received $2.7M in bribes and the fixed matches resulted in gambling profits of $10.9M for the game fixers. [That is not a bad return on investment, by the way.] Europol says that the kingpins of this organization are of “Asian origin” but that there are “European facilitators”.

Match fixing and alleged match fixing in Italian soccer has been the subject of more than a bit of press and public scrutiny there. In fact, the results of Italian soccer matches that have been ‘surprising” have even been the subject of Parliamentary debate in Italy. This brewing scandal seems to be much larger than just an “Italian phenomenon”. The thought that game-fixers might be able to reach players and/or officials who are involved with games as high as World Cup qualifying games has to give the folks at FIFA nightmares.

There are no allegations thus far of any improprieties in American soccer games. Maybe – just maybe – it is a blessing for the folks in MLS that their league remains a niche sport in the US where there are not large wagering pools extant on most of the games. If you are a ne’er-do-well looking to make a score on a fixed soccer game, you need a betting pool to bet into if you are going to cover the cost of bribing a player and/or an official. That just is not the case in the US as of the moment…

The city of Seattle may indeed get an NBA franchise back in town. If it happens that the Sacramento Kings actually make the move to Seattle, it will be due to the efforts of a man who has convinced the city fathers in Seattle to build a new arena for the new franchise. My position on governments using public funds to build/upgrade stadiums/arenas for sports franchises is very simple:

    This is a bad use of public funds. Local and state governments ought not to do this.

Simultaneously, I recognize that building and maintaining a state-of-the-art sports facility is something cities and states have to do because there is always a competitive city or state that will dip into the public treasury to do just that. Given all of that as a backdrop, let me make four observations about the current situation in Seattle:

    1. Seattle would not have lost the Sonics back in 2008 had the city fathers agreed then to build a new arena for a basketball team. The current deal appears to put the city of Seattle on the hook for about $150M as its share of the cost to erect a new arena.

    2. Sacramento would not be in imminent danger of losing its team had the city fathers there decided to upgrade that facility about five years ago.

    3. Back in 2007 and 2008, Seattle had plenty of rich folks in the local area who could have purchased the Sonics ahead of Clay Bennett who clearly planned to move the team out of Seattle to OKC. None of those folks saw the economics of buying the team and keeping it in Seattle in the old arena as a financially positive move.

    4. If the Kings move from Sacramento to Seattle, that will be the fifth home for that NBA franchise. It started as the Rochester Royals, then became the Cincinnati Royals, then the Kansas City Kings, then the Sacramento Kings. Are the Seattle Kings next in line…?

Maybe I am being a Pollyanna here, but if they really do build a new arena in Seattle and get an NBA team there, it might just make a lot of sense for the NHL to take one of its “struggling Sun Belt Teams” and put that team in Seattle where an instant rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks awaits the franchise. On the other hand, if what they bring to Seattle is a mediocre to bad NBA team and have no other regular tenants for the new arena, this might not be the best business model for the new arena. But, hey; local governments are generally not in the business of making profits – or even breaking even – on projects, so why might that be an impediment?

Oh, by the way, the NHL is not so astute when it comes to putting franchises into “hotbeds of hockey” either. Recall that the Winnipeg Jets moved to become the Phoenix Coyotes. Who thought that was a good idea…?

Finally, here is a comment from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald that deals with sociology and economics at the same time:

“Disgraced Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton lost her spokeswoman role with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association after admitting she led a secret life as a prostitute. With endorsement deals like that, I can see why she needed the extra income.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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Comments

  • rugger9  On February 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Soccer being a religion elsewhere, I’m not surprised in the least that the criminal element is involved.

    Betting borders on the ridiculous, sometimes, for example we had lines on the Pro Bowl that nobody cares about, we have lines on preseason baseball where minor leaguers play half of the game. I note this because rationality is not a part of gambling. For the Serie A in Italy, some of the top-level clubs were fined and had standings points taken away (leading to possible relegation and the resulting severe loss of revenue) for match fixing. All this story means is that the problem is bigger than FIFA thought (or admits to, like our NCAA), and one has to wonder if the World Cup itself is really safe from this situation.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On February 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    rugger9:

    I suspect that events at the very top of any sport are relatively immune from fixing/point-shaving. I do not think that the NCAA Final Four games are in jeopardy; I do not think the Super Bowl is “rigged”; I doubt that the English FA Cup Final game or any of the knockout round games of the World Cup are “questionable”. However, lower level contests such as World Cup qualifiers and/or “friendlies” may or may not be gambling targets.

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