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October 09, 2014


So, you'll have to find another reasonable personage to look at.

Hey, you refuse to engage...not my problem, but when you wade in here and try to pass off "not in my experience" the historically well known and rather easily documented animus of "libertarianism" to organized labor...well, expect to get called out.


So it seems the two arguments for college point shaving illegality are:

(i) they are getting paid to lie and cheat; and (ii) it is for college sports' own protection to keep them from being corrupted by the gambling industry.

In (i), unclear to me who is being cheated and lied to and why that justifies a potential 5 year prison sentence.

In (ii), it seems that there are ample safeguards for colleges and the NCAA to ensure the integrity of their games (e.g., pulling scholarships and expelling students).

And nothing, it seems, justifies the federal statute applying to any sporting event publicly announced in advance (or, at least not these days).

How do you find the history of a federal statute like this? Is there some reference that lets you see when it was introduced, how it was altered or changed, who it applied to?

LJ - RIA or CCH probably has something you can purchase. E.g., my paper copy of the Internal Revenue Code published by RIA has the history of the various provisions going back decades (and their subscription online research service has the same thing for the IRC).

Free online resources I'm not sure about, however.

To go into a little more detail. If you go to the site linked in the post, there is a tab called "notes." There you will see that this section of the Code was "added" by Public Law 88-316 in 1964. If there was a committee or conference report that accompanied that law, there might be a description of why it was added to the Code. Unfortunately, the Library of Congress' Thomas online database only goes back to the 93rd Congress, so someone looking for legislative history may need to actually set foot in a library.

There may also be a predecessor statute one top of that which has its own legislative history.

Some discussion of gambling/sports here and here.

One of those explains what is being protected:

Corruption, in any of the foregoing forms, robs sport of its essential feature of uncertainty of the outcome and accelerates its spin into the forum of entertainment, and thus it no longer is sport. Corruption gnaws away at the fundamental foundations of sport and therefore of sporting integrity. It becomes essential to protect that integrity to ensure that sport is free from any corrupt influence that might cast doubt over the authenticity and unpredictability of the sporting result....A difference between sport and entertainment is the unpredictability of sporting outcomes versus the planned and executed event that provides entertainment. Corruption attempts to alter this equation and make sport more of an entertainment event with a greater certainty of outcome.

I would say that errs in treating sports somehow distinct from entertainment - I would say the latter includes the former. I would also say that point shaving, as opposed to out and out match fixing, doesn't rob sport of its uncertainty (indeed, it actually makes it more uncertain if the shaver is on the team that's favored).

I get the concept that point-shavers ought not be subject to five years at hard labor.

But this I don't get:

"I would also say that point shaving, as opposed to out and out match fixing, doesn't rob sport of its uncertainty (indeed, it actually makes it more uncertain if the shaver is on the team that's favored)."

Other than maybe a Dad deliberately point-shaving the "e" off of the end of "Horse" in a game of basketball Horse with his seven-year old in the driveway so that the kid doesn't lose 500 matches in a row and give up on life altogether, this is just not how competitive sports work, amateur, professional, or even in so-called recreational leagues where there is an element of "just for fun" entertainment involved.

Maybe we should introduce a new end-of-season award into sports (Best Point-Shaver Of The Year Award) to the player who deliberately cheats and thus keeps the contestants and the fans on the edge of their seats.

Believe me, regardless of the score in any sporting event, especially among the contestants, there is more than enough uncertainty involved. ANYTHING can happen, and probably will without some clever boots and his bookie messing with eventualities.

In 1960, after Bill Mazeroski hit the Series-ending (4-3 Pirates over Yankees) home run off of a Yankee Ralph Terry hanging curve ball, the great Yankee veteran Mickey Mantle sat in front of his locker and wept and sobbed like a man over the loss.

(And then closed every bar, tavern, and liquor store in the Pittsburgh area.)

If Bill Mazeroski had approached Mickey a few days later and explained to him "you know, Mick, I have to tell you that on my previous at bat I deliberately struck out because I was earning a few extra bucks on the spread and besides, the closer the game, the more entertaining it was when I hit that dinger to win it, don't you think?" Mickey would have turned Maz into a grease spot.

Just like in insider trading and stock market manipulation, to my mind, don't mess with the f&cking numbers.

It's all we've got.

Else nothing is neither real and on the up and up, nor fun.

The fun of sports is that it's serious business.

As far as sports being entertainment, yes, but no, but yes.

Bill Veeck and his bread and circuses. Start at the 2:35 mark for the Eddie Gaedel gambit:


Yeah, I think it was entertaining that Veeck told the midget Gaedel that a sharpshooter with a high-powered rifle was in the stands and that if Gaedel dared swing at a pitch, Veeck would give the order to shoot him.

Gaedel believed him and walked.

More entertaining would have been if Gaedel HAD swung at a pitch and blooped a single into the outfield, only to be assassinated as he led off first base.

Veeck should run the Food Channel.

Count - I gotcha. I guess all I'm really is that I find the case for criminal sanctions (in any form) for college point shaving wanting - especially for the athlete.

Ugh, as a final note, its clear we disagree. I understand your points, I agree wth all of the counts 3:37, plus a few other things like gamblers are people too. I will also add that point shaving is a bit of a misnomer, the shavers don't really care if the points get shaved so much that a team loses, I haven't ever heard of shaving to lose by more, only to keep the game with the spread. So it can, stuff happens end up changing the outcome. Intentionally and unintentionally.

It's perhaps worth mentioning that here in England, where we have a quite different attitude to betting on sports, point shaving would still be illegal under the Gambling Act.

Perhaps the closest analogy here would be "spot fixing" at cricket. And three Pakistani cricketers were gaoled a while back for conspiring to bowl deliberate no-balls (a "no-ball" at cricket is roughly equivalent to a "ball" at baseball, but much less common). There was no evidence of the trial of anyone actually being adversely affected by the conspiracy, but the likely victims would have been (probably illegal) bookmakers in India. (Legal background here)

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