I’m watching a college basketball game at the moment – Virginia Tech at Syracuse. Our passions for sports teams are usually born during our youth and my teams were the New York Giants and the New York Mets – I grew up a couple hours north of New York City. During the past few decades, however, my interest in football and baseball has waned – the games are just too slow. I’ll watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, but do some writing or work on the computer at the same time. After all, 60 minutes playing time takes 3-4 times that to complete. Of course, the advertisements are fun to watch during the Super Bowl.
The sports I watch these days are college basketball, tennis and occasionally what we Americans call soccer (futball for the rest of the world). It wasn’t until I was in college that I developed my love for college basketball and my team was Syracuse. If they weren’t playing, I was usually rooting for the underdog. College basketball is a sport in which a good team can have a bad day and a not-so-great team can have a great day. Upsets happen all the time which makes it fun to watch and the action can go several minutes without a break.
My team isn’t having its best year, but there have been some good games. Syracuse has been penalized because the NCAA determined that head coach Jim Boeheim should have known a fan was providing financial favors to one or more of the Syracuse players a few years back. I actually didn’t pay much attention to the details, but in addition to a nine-game suspension for Boeheim, Syracuse has a reduced number of basketball scholarships they can offer for the next few years. Also, partly because of their reduced prospects, three of their talented younger players left the team to join the NBA.
So what does this have to do with the presidential race? Well, I have very bad luck whenever I decide to gamble which isn’t often. In late December 2014, I watched Syracuse lose in overtime to Villanova which was ranked 7th in the country at the time. It was Syracuse’s fourth loss of the young season, but the team looked pretty good during that game. In particular, the freshman Chris McCullough made some mistakes, but I could see that he was going to grow into a very good player.
While on vacation In Las Vegas a couple weeks later I made a bet. I put $20 down on Syracuse to win the NCAA tournament at 60:1 odds. I knew they were still a long shot, but I thought the odds would come down as the team began to gel and the younger players worked out the kinks. If they did win, I would get back $1,220 with my winning ticket.
Once I bet on them, things went wrong quickly. Nine days later, McCullough sustained a season-ending knee injury, and after several losses a few weeks later, Syracuse self-imposed a ban on post-season tournament play. This unilateral action was intended to force the NCAA to make a decision on the allegations of inappropriate financial assistance by a fan.
So within a week of my betting on the team, the prospects of the bet paying off became very slim with McCullough’s injury. A few weeks after that, it became impossible for me to win the bet because of the self-imposed post-season ban. I’m not saying I caused Syracuse’s problems by placing the bet, but I really do have bad luck when I gamble.
But what if I did cause the problems with the team? What if I have cosmically bad luck when I gamble because I’ve actually been very lucky in my non-gambling life? I very much prefer it this way. What if I try to use this power for good?
And that brings me to the presidential campaign. Apparently, it is legal to bet on political elections in the U.K. I think it may be possible to place a bet online, but that just doesn’t seem to have that cosmic connection needed to ensure my gambler bad luck karma. If I went to London or Edinburgh to place my bets, I’m sure the bad luck karma would be active and whoever I don’t bet on to win would become the next president of the United States.
Now I need to convince a presidential campaign to act on this opportunity. If a campaign sent me to the U.K. for a few days, I would place bets using my own money on all the other candidates, and if an option, bet against their candidate. It’s a sure thing. And the costs of airfare and a hotel are much less than that for a 30-second television ad. I would even be willing to fly coach. Do you think I can find any takers?
Syracuse won the game, by the way – 68-60 in overtime. Good thing I didn’t bet on it.