I worked in the online gambling industry for almost 20 years, and one of the rules I always followed was, “You always cheer with the house,” and because of that, I let go of most of my serious fandoms. I say most because I could never let go of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.
In theory, the bookmaker for a sports betting company will set the odds to encourage half of the bettors to bet on the favourite, and the other half will bet on the underdog. When the bets are evenly split on both sides of the line, losing bets will pay the winning bets, and the sports betting operator will keep the vig. The vig is a commission for taking the bet; it’s about 10% in most cases. If you’re betting on a point spread, you’ll need to risk $110 to win $100 when your team wins.
I say in theory because most of the time, the majority of the bets on a game will be placed on the favourite leaving the house to cheer for the underdog to win or at least not lose by more than the point spread so that the losing bets outnumber the winners and the sportsbook keeps the difference.
One memory stands out, back in 2005, the New England Patriots were playing the Miami Dolphins. That season, the Patriots weren’t a juggernaut but better than the Dolphins. The game line had the Pats as the 2.5 point favourites, which everyone bettor in the world thought was low and bet it accordingly. The house needed to be big fans of Dolphins that day, I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was likely half a million dollars.
The Dolphins were winning by a point late in the game until Tom Brady worked his Tom Brady magic to give the Patriots a 23-16 lead with about two minutes left. The mood in the room was low; it would be a big red stain on the day’s bottom line.
But hope springs eternal. Gus Frerotte completed a 47-yard pass to future Patriots legend Wes Welker and another couple to Ronnie Brown and Randy McMichael to bring the Dolphins to the Patriots’ 5-yard line with a minute and a full set of downs to score a TD.
So long as the Dolphins scored a TD, it would bring the score to 23-22. It wouldn’t matter if they scored the point after because Miami would lose by less than 2.5 and that half a million dollar loss would switch to a half-million-dollar win.
Incomplete, incomplete, complete for a loss. We were all on our feet, fists clenched, ready to explode. Frerotte throws an incompletion, and as the air is let out of the room, a single voice screams, “YES!”
“Who the F&%*#$ was that?!” one of the sportsbook managers yelled.
I quickly scanned the room and saw a smile disappear from one of our new hires. I grabbed him from his desk and ushered him out of sight of the livid bookmakers to find out what he was thinking.
It turns out he had placed a $5 bet with his play money on the Patriots, and he got caught up in the moment. We stayed in the office until the mood settled on the floor. The only advice I could give was, “Always cheer for the house, always cheer for your paycheque.”
For most of their existence, the Toronto Raptors were an awful team. A few bright spots were a playoff opening-round win over the New York Knicks in 2001, a seven-game loss against the 76ers in the next round, and a division title in 2006. Being an awful team, more often than not, the house was cheering for the Raptors and thus, I could openly cheer for the team.
On July 5, 2012, that changed when the Toronto Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets. Lowry was just 26 years old, with plenty of talent but a penchant for butting heads with coaches, having played himself off the Grizzlies and the Rockets.
I won’t repeat it all here, but long story short, Kyle got a talking to from Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and Chauncey Billups. They asked him if he wanted to be a $2 million a year player or a $10 million-plus player?
Kyle matured, and the oft-maligned Raptors developed with him. Lowry’s bulldog attitude and desire to do the dirty work was what the hockey-mad city wanted. The Raptors started winning and eventually won their first championship in 2019.
Lowry’s time in Toronto came to an end this season as it was time to give the reigns to a young group of players mentored by Lowry the opportunity to lead the next generation of Raptors.
Due to the Pandemic and personal issues, Kyle Lowry took until Sunday to return to Toronto.
Toronto fans have a history of booing and making it rough on former Raptor players coming back to the city for the first time. Vince Carter was mercilessly booed for years before the maturing fanbase finally gave him a proper ovation in 2014. The change of heart came after the team started winning, again, thanks to Kyle Lowry.
Kyle was always going to be cheered as fans finally got a chance to show their love and appreciation.
I love sports. There are the teams I like, but old habits die hard as I find it hard to get excited about any particular team. Except for the Toronto Raptors, who, admittedly, I’m pretty over the top in my fandom and thanks to Kyle Lowry, I got to cheer for a winner eventually.
Word of the Week - Pandiculation (pan-dik-yuh-LAY-shun)
I do this every morning, and many of you do it too. Pandiculation is the involuntary stretching you do when you’re tired. It’s a great feeling; you’re lying in bed, yawning, and your body stretches out.
Coaching Corner - Does this need to be said?
As mentioned last week, I’m doing coaches training, and I want to use a portion of The Weekly to share some tips, techniques and advice you can use or not. Change is up to you 🙂.
Have you ever felt the twinge of being on the receiving end of an untimely comment? Have you felt the fallout from being the one to make the untimely comment? At some point in our lives, we all have, and rarely the results are what we had hoped. I can’t help other people from saying something, but here’s a tip we can use to make sure we’re more considerate with our words.
When you feel the urge to comment, stop and quickly ask yourself these three questions.
1. Does this need to be said?
Is this thought something that needs to be shared in the world?
a) No - don’t say anything b) Yes - Continue to question 2.
2. Does this need to be said by me?
Am I the best person to verbalize this comment?
a) No - don’t say anything b) Yes - Continue to question 3.
3. Does this need to be said by me right now?
Is now the best time for me to share this comment?
a) No - don’t say anything b) Yes - Congratulations, your opinion or comment will add to the conversation, and you won’t be subject to embarrassment or at risk of hurting feelings.
It’s a simple technique that I’ve taught to my teenage son. His teachers appreciate his restraint. At home, well, he’s not always restrained.
Reminder - If you want to try coaching in your personal or professional life, I need practice clients. I need to reach 125 hours of real-world practice before earning my certification. The rules say I can’t do it for free, but they don’t dictate how much or how little I charge, just as long as I charge something. If you’re interested, reach out through the contact link at the top of the page, and we can talk.
The moment of Truth - Announcement of upcoming series
When I first started this website, yes, it was to be an outlet to share my thoughts without editing or spell check. Still, I wanted it to be a home where I could share some articles on disinformation, propaganda, and other techniques nefarious people use to spread misinformation and alternative facts and generally poison the societal discourse. It’s been in the back of my mind for a while. However, with so much Covid misinformation still spreading and elections in the USA and the Philippines coming soon, we must learn the techniques to protect ourselves and critically analyze the information shared online.
The first piece tackles conspiracy theories and should be published this week.
What I’m Reading-Listening-Watching
This one hits a little close to home, but thankfully I have a robust support system, and I’ve spent plenty of time working on my mental health and fortitude, which prepared me for the depression that comes with cancer treatment and diagnosis.
Listening - Canadaland - CanadaLand is a Canadian media company that creates podcasts about Canada, the news and the media’s coverage of the news. I listen to everything they produce but if you’re looking for a podcast that does a deep dive into a topic, look into their Commons series. Their series include policing in Canada, the Mining industry and Real Estate.
Watching - Wrestlemania 38 - When I was a kid, I LOVED wrestling, and I had another brief love affair with wrestling during the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars. I rarely watch the weekly shows, but I still try to catch the biggest wrestling event of the year.
This year’s event was one of the most entertaining in a long time. If you didn’t watch, but you used to love wrestling, it might be worth a couple of hours.