Point shaving

Point shaving, in organized sports, is a type of match fixing where the perpetrators try to prevent a team from covering a published point spread. Unlike other forms of match fixing, sports betting invariably motivates point shaving. A point shaving scheme generally involves a sports gambler and one or more players of the sports team favored to win the game. In exchange for a bribe, the player or players agree to ensure that their team will not "cover the point spread," or win by the required margin. The gambler then wagers against that team.

Basketball is a particularly easy medium for shaving points because of the scoring tempo of the game and the ease by which one player can influence key events. By deliberately missing shots or committing well-timed turnovers or fouls, a corrupt player can covertly ensure that his team fails to cover the point spread, without causing them to lose the game (or to lose so badly that suspicions are aroused). Although the NCAA has adopted a zero tolerance policy with respect to gambling activity by its players, some critics believe it unwittingly encourages point shaving due to its strict rules regarding amateurism, combined with the large amount of money wagered on its games. The NCAA has produced posters warning of this, the most notable being an athlete sitting alone on a bench with his face buried in his hands (although this may also look like the athlete suffered a tremendous defeat) with the caption "DO NOT BET ON IT" with warnings as to what could happen if they are involved in such a plan (as well as an athlete being caught gambling oneself).

Conversely, there have been alleged cases where an underdog not only lost (which might be honest) but lost by some large amount, perhaps to ensure a point spread was covered for the benefit of gamblers although in some cases the motive may be to grant a non-gambling related favor to the victor.

References in popular culture

Season four of the hit CW television series, "One Tree Hill" features incidents of point shaving during several different episodes, focusing on the pressure teens have to win in team sports and the dangerous world of bookie based gambling.

The 2002 movie dramatized the fact-based story of Benny Silman and the 1994 Arizona State point shaving scandal.

The 1974 movie "The Longest Yard" features a main character, Paul Crewe, who is thrown out of the NFL for point shaving.There was also a remake of "The Longest Yard" in 2005 starring Adam Sandler.

The 1994 movie "Blue Chips" features a coach, played by Nick Nolte, who realizes that one of his star players shaved points in a game three years before.

The 1998 movie about City College of New York invovlement in the CCNY Point Shaving Scandal‎ "City Dump: The Story of the 1951 CCNY Basketball Scandal" [http://www.timewarner.com/corp/newsroom/pr/0,20812,666861,00.html]

In a fifth season episode of "The Sopranos", "Rat Pack", the character Bobby Baccala mentions that he heard that fictional New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi invented point shaving during a game between the University of Kentucky and City College of New York. Uncle Junior confirmed the story, saying "Nobody beat the spread. I bought a black Fleetwood."

A 1989 issue of MAD Magazine had a poem / cartoon titled "Ten College Athletes" about how various problems result in the elimination of athletes from college. One such verse was "Six sophomore athletes, on the court with jive. One helped gamblers fix a game... Bet's off, we are down to five." The illustration shows a very tall basketball player with his hand open, and a typical Mafia type gangster handing him a large bankroll of cash.

Episode 6 of the 10th season of The Simpsons features a joke with Kent Brockman talking about point shaving by the Harlem Globetrotters.

External links

* cite paper | author = Gibbs, Jonathan | title = Point Shaving in the NBA: An Economic Analysis of the National Basketball Association's Point Spread Betting Market | publisher = Undergraduate Honors Thesis from the Department of Economics, Stanford University
year = 2007 | url = http://www-econ.stanford.edu/academics/Honors_Theses/Theses_2007/Gibbs2007.pdf
format = PDF | accessdate = 2007-10-27


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • point-shaving — noun Usage: often attributive Date: 1975 an attempt (as by a member of the team favored to win) to influence the final score of a game so that the predicted winner wins by less than the point spread …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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