If you’re one of the handful of people who still believe that tennis is all about starched white clothing and curtseys at Wimbledon then you must have been as shocked as Captain Renault in “Casablanca” to learn that there’s also betting on the sport. Oh, and a little bit more, like cheating, too.
The revelation that players were pressured to throw matches comes as a great surprise only to those who were in a space capsule when the NBA wagering scandal broke or to those who have conveniently forgotten that sports such as football, college basketball and horse racing also have been tainted by sports betting improprieties.
Of course, these sorted imbroglios–and a bunch of other stuff, too – have inspired journalists, athletes, administrators and just plain ordinary folks to be witty, innovative, humorous and, in some cases, just plain silly.
Judge for yourself…
“We don’t believe there is corruption in our sport.”
–Kris Dent, spokesperson for the ATP, after the UK on-line sports betting company Betfair, in an unprecedented move, voided all bets placed on a second-round match between defending champion and No. 4 ranked Nikolay Davydenko and No. 87 ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello at the Prokom Open in Poland in August.
Betfair said it received $7 million in bets on the match, 10 times the usual amount, and the vast majority of the sports betting money was on Arguello to win, even after Davydenko won the first set, 6-2. Betfair was one of the best sports betting sites at the time.
Arguello won the second set, 6-3 and was leading 2-1 in the decisive third set when Davydenko retired, claiming a foot injury.
“Quite what the long-term effects of this will be I don’t know. I don’t think anybody yet is able to predict that.”
–Adrian Murdock, spokesperson for Betfair, after receiving a document labeled “Suspect Tennis Matches,” that listed professional matches considered suspicious, including some at Grand Slam events, dating back to 2002.
“It’s difficult to prove if someone has tanked a match or not tried because they can try their best until the last couple of games of each set and then make some mistakes, a couple of double faults and that’s it.”
–Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, explaining how easy it would be to throw a match
“Anybody who thinks Tim Donaghy is the only official in any sport who has ever bet on a game and altered its outcome is either living in a dream world or has been drinking more Jack Daniel’s than a NASA astronaut. If it happens in basketball, you’d better believe it has happened in football-the sport America loves to gamble on more than any other.
“There’s an old limerick about dishonest officiating that needs to be updated in this day and age of five-team parlays and six-team teasers.
“There once was a ref whose vision,
Was cause for abuse and derision,
He remarked in surprise,
Why pick on my eyes?
It’s my bookie who dictates my decision.“
–Mike Bianchi, The Orlando Sentinel
More from Bianchi…
“All these years we thought Bill BeliCheat was a genius. Turns out he’s just another fraud. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised considering everybody else in sports is a cheater – or a suspected cheater.
“In football, the NFL’s best coach is a cheater. In baseball, the home run king is a cheater while in the NBA, the refs are cheaters. And in NASCAR, the top crew chiefs of the premier team – Hendrick Motorsports – are cheaters. And in cycling, everybody’s cheating. Sad.
“Denver Broncos running back Travis Henry has fathered nine children by nine different women in at least four different states. New nickname for Henry: ‘The Weapon of Mass Reproduction.’
“In big musical news this week, Van Halen is getting back together. I don’t know which is sadder, a washed-up Evander Holyfield still in the ring trying to fight or a washed-up David Lee Roth still on stage wearing spandex, trying to do karate kicks and warbling out lyrics to ‘Hot for Teacher.’
“Can you believe Woody Austin actually said he’s just as good as Tiger Woods? And in other news: Ashlee Simpson says she’s just as good as Streisand, Mike and the Mechanics say they were just as good as the Beatles and the cast of Joanie Loves Chachi says it was just as good as the cast of Seinfeld.”
“Greg Norman at one time was my best friend, and a year and a half ago I would have taken a bullet for this guy. But I didn’t realize he was the one who was going to pull the trigger.”
–Former US skiing star Andy Mill, after learning that the golfer is dating his ex-wife, tennis champion Chris Evert
“Linebacker Mike Tauiliili, Duke’s leading tackler, is back after serving a two-week suspension for having too many vowels in his name.
–Bud Geracie, the San Jose Mercury News
“Seventeen million to 1.”
–Sports betting odds quoted by Golf Digest on two golfers in the same group each scoring a hole-in-one on the same hole, something Bill Maslowski and Carl Workinger accomplished at the Grandview Golf Course in York County, Pa., Sept. 27